Introduction

Dogs, goats, and sheep were the first animals to be domesticated by man. Domestication of the goat is considered to have occurred at least 10,000 years ago in the Near East and Africa. The animals were used for production of meat, milk, skins, and fiber. Fiber-producing goats have occupied the area between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Ocean for at least 2000 years. The white, lustrous-fleeced goat called the Angora (Capra hircus aegagrus) was developed on the Turkish plains close to Ankara, from which the name of the goat was derived. The original Turkish Angora goats were described as small, refined, and delicate and annually produced 1 2 kg of mohair in ringlets 20 25 cm in length. The primary and secondary follicles of Angora goats produce fibers of similar diameter and length, giving rise to a nonshedding single-coated fleece that is quite distinct from cashmere and the fleece of other goats that produce double coats. The first recorded shipment of Angora goats out of Turkey occurred in 1554. Shipments to South Africa (1838), the United States (1849), Australia (1850s), and the United Kingdom (1881) followed. Mohair production flourished in South Africa and the United States. By 1909, 1.34 million Angora goats were shorn in Texas. The population increased to 4.61 million by 1965 but subsequently declined to the present-day 220,000. In recent years, the South African Angora goat population peaked in 1989 with 3.0 million animals. By 2003, this number had declined to 1.1 million. Meanwhile, the population in Turkey had declined to about 100,000 Angora goats.

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