Using the 5-Point Health Check in Angora Goats

As stewards of the land and the animals who call the farm home, we must strive to ensure the health and vitality of our caprine partners. One way we do this is by routinely checking the herd for signs of parasitism, both internal and external. The 5-point check is a method developed in South Africa by the Boer Farmers to ensure that their stock remained healthy and hardy in a harsh environment.  The check includes specific areas of the goat: eyes, jaw, coat, back, and butt. Let’s get into the importance of each and what we’re looking for.

The eyes play a major role in the 5-point check and we’re looking for two things specifically. Externally you want to be looking for bright, clear eyes free of discharge. If there’s a discharge, is it cloudy, sticky, or clear? Just as humans suffer occasionally from seasonal irritants, so too can our goats. Along with a quick check of the eyes themselves, an understanding of FAMACHA is helpful. In reviewing the state of the mucous membranes of the eyes, a herdsman can decide whether there is a need to treat barber pole, or Haemonchus contortus, a particularly nasty internal parasite which can cause severe anemia in it’s host.

 While in the vicinity of the eyes, take a look at your goat’s jawline. Here we are specifically looking for any edema or “bottle jaw.” This is interstitial fluid, an indicator of anemia, and is generally caused by internal parasites including liver flukes.

In checking the coat of an Angora or any other goat we are looking for a healthy luster to the fiber, as well as parting the fibers and checking for hidden hitchhikers. Dull, flaky hair may indicate internal parasitism which can draw down the goat’s nutritional plane. Hitchhikers like lice and mites can lead to bloodborne illnesses and general ill-health.

Moving on to the back, or more specifically, the loin area of our goats, we want to consider the overall body condition score. This is an area of interest on the goat for a number of reasons, but for our purposes, it may be helpful in deciding whether we are going to deworm or not based on other things we’ve seen in our progressive review of the goat. A goat that scores a “3” via FAMACHA may not need to be treated if she is in good flesh, but if she seems to be losing condition, we may opt to treat.

The last step in the 5 Point check is to take a look at the goat’s rear. Here we are looking for dags, or fecal material around the bum, which may indicate a current or recent bought of diarrhea in the individual. This is of greater concern in young kids as they can become severely dehydrated very quickly if left untreated. Reasons for diarrhea could be a simple as a recent change in diet, or as troubling as an outbreak of coccidia.

After reviewing and carefully recording the observations an educated decision can be made in regards to treatment going forward. A bright-eyed, vibrant goat, with a FAMACHA score of 1, a healthy degree of condition, and no dags can be sent on their merry way, while the dull-eyed, skinny goat with a dirty rear can be properly treated.

Love Is In The Air, But Not For Long!

A handsome young buck and his lady love slip away from the herd for a little romance.

Fall has given way to winter here in central Pennsylvania, and with that the breeding season has come and gone.  Here at Pure American Naturals we employ a short, 4-6 week breeding period to ensure that our lovely matriarchs are kidding, or giving birth, during the verdant month of April. With its gentler weather, green grass and sunshine, April breathes new life into all members of the farm. The main goal of Pure American Naturals is to maintain a sustainable symbiosis between the herd and the land on which it grazes.  By maintaining a short window of breeding opportunity, we are creating natural selection for high reproductive efficiency and ease of management.  And we are able to reduce the strain placed on the handlers during kidding time by reducing the number of nights they have to monitor the moms, so that mothers can give birth safely and the kids can be assisted, if necessary, in getting their first meals of colostrum and in staying  warm in the nursery.

A mature buck surveying his harem.

In the two weeks prior to being introduced to their intended suitors, each doe, or female goat, is given a pre-breeding diet of increased grains, in addition to the nutrient rich Alfalfa hay and mixed pasture forage she enjoys. This improved nutritional plane tends to improve overall productivity and has even increased the rate of twinning in some herds.  Each step in the process is taken with a keen eye towards sustainability; we want our herd to remain happy and healthy as they bring new life to the farm, in turn they can put their energy towards growing the luscious locks of fiber that our partners have come to know and appreciate. Furthermore, by maintaining a high level of breeding efficiency, we are reducing the amount of stress placed on the does by the exuberant advances of the breeding bucks, which also benefit by not being allowed to wear themselves out chasing the ladies!

PAN Nominated for 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Award

Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge We here at Pure American Naturals are happy to announce we have been nominated for a 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Award! We feel quite honored to be a nominee for this prestigious accolade, so we wanted to share our good news with everyone.

We pride ourselves not just on our sustainable products, farm, pastures and processes, but also on our high quality mohair fibers and yarns. Our animals are treated humanely and happily live in our beautiful pastures among the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania. Happy goats mean top quality fiber for our mohair, which means top quality apparel and our featured Reward mohair socks. This urban-farm connection feeds into Americans’ increasing need to buy products that aren’t just made here in America but are also environmentally friendly.

The Martha Stewart American Made Awards spotlight “the next generation of great American makers: entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners who are creating beautiful, inspiring, useful products; pioneering new industries; improving local communities; and changing the way we eat, shop, work, and live.” The fact that Pure American Naturals is included in this elite group of nominees tells us we must be doing something right! It means that our apparel, mohair and the way we do business is being recognized as a forerunner of the shift in the way Americans are looking at the environment and what we can all be doing to help Mother Nature.

Our highest priority is sustainability. We believe in “eco-fashion” – the idea that a company can be socially responsible, “green” and Earth friendly and still create an excellent product. The end result is satisfaction in knowing what we produce will have a minimal impact on the environment and will help with other sustainability efforts.

Get more information about the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards. And for more information on Pure American Naturals, call 717-580-1416 or Contact Us.

The Sheer Joy of Sharing about Shearing

Friday was one of the most anticipated days of the year at the Glen Cauffman Farm: Shearing Day! Twice each year, our pampered goats donate their lustrous fleeces in this celebrated event, once before the winter and once again in the early spring.  Last week’s shearing marks the beginning of a new season when the herd repopulates and rejuvenates, bringing new life and an air of spring excitement to the farm.

Shearing day is significant in the time honored process of producing the beautiful, natural, and sustainable fibers of high-quality mohair wool. Our well-cared for goats seemed pleased to share their coats as a way of reciprocating the affection and attention given to them throughout the year. Each goat cooperatively participated in the occasion, almost as if to say, “Thank you for all the tender loving care. Here’s what I am giving back to you. Please do something beautiful with it.”

And beautiful their coats are, year after year! This shearing day was no exception, as many of our goats have been proven, through scientific evaluation of their hair, to produce mohair of superior quality! By day’s end, the entire herd stood ready to begin growing a new summer fleece for the next shearing in October.Shearing day gives us “cause to pause” and reflect upon how healthy and renewable mohair is, and how these little goats provide such great benefits to both industry and our environment. The delicate ringlets of fine hair from our four-legged family members contribute to making the most durable, comfortable, and fashionable material in the clothing market.

As this spring’s fleeces begin the journey from the farm to the fashion runway, we’re looking ahead to our next big event: kidding is just around the corner! We are so excited to say that we’re expecting many twins, maybe even triplets this year. Dozens of kids will be born soon, and the Cauffman Farm will again experience the bustle and fervor of new life in spring. Celebrate with us by checking in on the latest developments. We’ll have “baby pictures” for you soon!