For those who work with angora goats, the impact of the lack of skilled people is beginning to bite, writes Federated Farmers Goats and Mohair New Zealand (Inc) chairperson Lynne Milne.
A labour shortage of skilled shearers for goats is being felt.
While those who farm sheep are faced with similar labour issues, for those who work with angora goats the impact of the lack of skilled people is beginning to bite.
While most shearers are aware of the skills required to shear crossbred wool, there are significantly different requirements to shear mohair successfully.
Mohair has no grease, it requires slowed down machinery in order not to "burn " the mohair, and usually it is advisable to use specialised shearing combs.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
Mohair is currently fetching up to $40 a kilo, but 10 per cent of that can be lost if there are second cuts created in the fleece during the shearing process.
With mohair creating the bulk of income for angora farmers margins become thin if a 10 per cent loss is created during shearing.
A loss of that magnitude is hard to absorb for any farmer.
Anecdotally what has led to the labour shortage is the accessibility of pathways into goat shearing, skilled shearers moving off shore for greater pay and the losses versus gains of being a goat shearer.
More money can be made by shearing sheep in a day than angora goats and that comes down to the number of angoras people run.
There is no way a shearer will travel the hours needed to shear small numbers of angora goats.
There are two potential solutions for the future of our country's mohair industry.
The first is angora owners work in with the shearers and teach them about how best to take the fleece off the animals to avoid the incredibly expensive mistakes caused by lack of skill in shearing angoras.
We need shearers who are aware of the value of the product they're dealing with.
The second is to work with fellow angora owners and make it financially viable for a shearer to travel to an area.
A shared calendar system could be created so each angora mob is booked in at a similar time.
Everyone gets paid and everyone gets serviced.
Whether or not these potential solutions pan out into something tangible is yet to be tested, but something needs to happen.