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!

Made in America Meets Sustainability

We’re different. Pure American Naturals (PAN) combines the Made in America ethos with environmental sustainability to produce high-quality, humane products.

We know where our yarn comes from. Do you?

What is Pure American Naturals?

PAN is a producer of luxurious mohair and merino wool blend yarns and fashions.   Every facet of the PAN mission is American made and processed, from the goats on our farm to the spinneries that create our yarn. See for yourself: Visit our farm.

Why Pure American Naturals?

  • Humane treatment of animals ensures high-quality fibers.
  • Sustainable practices means helping to protect our planet.
  • American-made products from American-based companies.

The difference is with our animals.

  • Mohair shearing of Angora goats takes place twice a year; merino shearing of sheep takes place once a year.
  • Each fleece is uniquely bagged and identified.
  • Quality control ensures removal of foreign materials and stained and low-quality fibers

The difference is with our people.

  • Carding (using wire brushes to comb the mohair and wool to align fibers in parallel) is carefully done by our people and our machines.
  • Our partner network of spinneries use precision and attention to detail to create yarns that are strong, unique and luxurious

The difference is with you.

  • The initial process ends with you using our yarns to knit or weave fashionable garments.
  • Using our products means helping to promote American-made, sustainable products.
  • We want to hear from people like you.

Sustainable, Renewable, American-Made

Click Here to Request More Information About PAN

Our Farm: Where People, Animals and Nature Come Together

The Glen Cauffman Farm – where People, Animals and Nature come together.

In a beautiful Perry County, Pa. valley, we cultivate People, Animals and Nature, and have built a solid foundation for our business. At the Glen Cauffman Farm, we produce corn, soybeans, alfalfa hay, goats and mohair to support our animals and the regional agricultural economy, as well as provide luxury fiber to the fashion world. Our grazing animals fertilize and vitalize plants and soil, and help maintain healthy stands of vegetation which harvest energy from sunlight and encourage soil microbes to thrive beneath the landscape.

The farm’s ecologically healthy springs and creek also benefit the now improving health of Susquehanna River, and our crops feed and protect wildlife populations. Low-input farming practices are used exclusively, so soil is actually created, not lost and chemical amendments are minimized. We believe an ever-improving landscape ecology leads to healthy soil, animals, ecosystems and farm economy, which in turn directly contributes to the vitality of our local and regional community and the world.

A varied ecosystem

The 190 acres aren’t just home to the Pure American Naturals people, goats and plants. You will find a wide range of wildlife flourishing here. Deer, raccoons,  opossums, rabbits and squirrels share the grounds with wild turkeys, grouse and pheasants. Other animals that can be seen are minks, porcupines, foxes, coyotes, skunks, raptors, song birds and the occasional black bear.

Conservation practices

Enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program are 20 acres of erodible land, where native prairie grasses are maintained for wildlife habitat. Our conservation efforts were recognized recently by the USDA Natural Resources Conversation Service, which accepted our farm into the National Conservation Stewardship Program.

The goats are an extremely important part of our conservation techniques, as their habit has negligible impact to streams, fragile terrain and drainage areas.

The farm has been continuous no-till since 1984, which has protected the soil from erosion, enhanced water infiltration and improved soil health. To carry storm water and prohibit soil erosion, thousands of feet of sod waterways have been installed over the past 30-plus years. We’ve also created a wetland for storm water detention that captures and ameliorates runoff from a neighboring farm.

Cropland is maintained in contour strips of alternating crops in rotation providing soil conservation and ecosystem diversity. Cover crops and residue management provide “soil armor,” which protects the soil during storms. We’ve adopted integrated pest management to lessen the use of pesticides by weekly crop scouting, and have subscribed to pest modeling services to predict the arrival of pests and diseases, allowing for intervention that’s targeted and ecological.

A farm is always a “work in progress”

And when we’re not tending livestock, seeding, harvesting or haying, we can probably be found working any number of improvement and maintenance jobs necessary for running a 190-acre, family farm. We construct buildings; do wiring and plumbing; build feeders; dig in water lines; install energy-free waterers; create soil and water conservation improvements; repair tractors and equipment; build fences; restore historic structures; preserve farm and family history; and educate others.

Have questions about our farm? Let us know in the comments, on our Facebook page or on Twitter (@mowear). 

Environmental Stewardship: How We Manage

Our angora goats grazing.

The Glen Cauffman Farm, home to Pure American Naturals, is more than a place where mohair is produced; it’s a fully operational farm, home to a variety of ecological systems. We believe that it’s not just about the animals, but it’s also about the environment. We carefully manage our livestock, croplands, water, and operations in ways that enhance the environment. We work closely with eco-friendly processors, educators and government agencies to continuously increase our commitment to environmental stewardship. We want you to be collaborators in the process by enjoying the fibers and educational opportunities offered by Pure American Naturals. Together, we’ll create a sustainable future.

Being sustainable means acting in economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound ways. It requires integration and thoughtful management of all three of these aspects.

  • Economic viability means remaining profitable and recycling profits back into our home economy by using local and regional vendors and providing jobs.
  • Social responsibility entails strengthening community by supporting local and regional people, businesses, education, public service and philanthropy.
  • Environmental soundness requires providing for animal well-being, protecting soil, maintaining and enhancing clean water and air, and protecting wildlife and renewable resources for the future.

Together these three requirements of sustainability are critical for supporting life in any given ecosystem, including businesses and the planet in general.

Good Stewardship means seeking knowledge and guidance

More than 50 years ago, Glen Cauffman began working with the Soil Conservation Service – now the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) – to develop a Conservation Plan for the family farm. It was the original map for agricultural and environmental management. Since then, other agencies have provided valuable technical and engineering help in developing, implementing and monitoring our land and business management plans. The Glen Cauffman Farm’s partner agencies include:

Glen Cauffman and the farm have received numerous awards for excellence in stewardship and land management over the years.

Have questions about agriculture? Ask in the comments, or let us know on our Facebook page or Twitter (@mowear).