Mani/Pedi Day at the Farm

 

Just as with other hooved creatures, goat hooves grow continuously throughout their lifetime.  Due to a multitude of factors, including but not limited to nutrition, genetics, and environment, some goats naturally retain better hoof health than others.  Just as humans with poor posture experience aches and pains, goats that do not have proper hoof angles and maintenance can experience a decrease in their overall wellbeing.  When their hooves are misshapen they can lose condition, experience decreased appetite, and even risk becoming unhealthy.  We know from experience that the socks made from our goats’ lovely mohair help our feet feel amazing, we want to return the favor in ensuring our goats’ foot comfort, continued health and vitality.  For these reasons, we as stewards of the farm must strive to maintain optimum health of our cloven hooved friends.

About a month ago, in early December, a group of dedicated handlers came together at the Glen Cauffman Farm to provide manicures and pedicures for the Angora goats that make up the Pure American Naturals herd.  Among the group were farm owner Glen Cauffman, our favorite Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Judith Shoemaker, Herdsman Wyett Johnson, his lovely assistant Emily D, and yours truly.  I have found over the course of nearly two decades of experience with these capricious creatures, there are almost as many ways to trim the hooves on a goat as there are goat enthusiasts in the world.  From the tools used, to the method of restraint, the old adage about there being more than one way to accomplish a task certainly holds true to trimming goat hooves.  As owner and herdsman to a small dairy herd, I train my does to jump up onto their milking stand twice a day for milking.  This method enables me to comfortably examine them for body condition, coat condition, and overall health.  Because they know they’ll get a little grain for cooperating, hoof trimming is generally a relaxed, pleasant experience with my small, mixed herd.  On a larger scale operation, such as the Pure American Naturals herd of over 150 Angora goats; visually inspecting and manually trimming hooves requires a slightly different tactic.  Here, we use a mechanical device which safely and securely lifts and flips each goat into a cradle so that they may have their hooves trimmed in a calm, relaxed manner.  This device, which was specifically designed for the safety and wellbeing of sheep and goats, also ensures that the handlers involved with hoof trimming aren’t sporting aching backs at the end of the day.

Once in position, each hoof is visually inspected to determine how much overgrowth may need to be removed.  The goats here typically only require quarterly hoof trimmings, though some do receive more frequent maintenance.  Hoof trimming for the entire herd is usually broken up over a series of days, allowing the handlers to work at a comfortable pace and avoiding over exertion.  A full grown Angora buck (male) can weigh in the neighborhood of 200 pounds, does (females) tend to range between 80 to 150 pounds, depending on stage of life.  Using the hi-roller apparatus for all but the largest bucks allows the handlers to easily restrain each goat, without fear of back strains or danger to the animal.

The actual trimming process is completed with specialized hoof trimming shears, which are carefully maintained to ensure a sharp edge. This in turn ensures each trim is done quickly and with minimal trauma to the goat or handler.  Dull blades can lead to improper hoof angle due to irregular cuts, strained hand and wrist from struggling to trim the hard hoof material, and overall undue stress to the handler and goat as dull blades slow the process.  With the sharp shears in hand, the handlers carefully remove any debris from the hoof and trim excess growth to maintain proper hoof and leg angle (see images below).  With practice and patience, we routinely trim roughly 50 goats in a single day, with little to no stress to our beloved Angoras or ourselves.

At the time of trimming, each goat is also checked for body condition, FAMACHA score, and weight.  These factors all play a part in the maintenance and selection process of the herd; goats with chronic hoof issues, as well as those individuals with chronic immune defficiency, are considered for removal from the breeding herd as these concerns correlate to subpar mohair production and decreased reproductive vigor.  The timing of hoof trimming and overall herd health checks is also carefully planned; the next trimming will be due prior to the time the does are due to start kidding.  At that time, they will have been shorn of their winter locks and will be ready to be mothers and venture out into the spring pastures with their kids and begin growing their luxurious summer attire while teaching the newest members of the herd which forages are the most delicious.

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

Spin Expo Recap & Exciting Developments

Our friends, the Yoders, who came along with us to Spin Expo 2013.

Excitement. That’s what the Pure American Naturals (PAN) leadership team felt July 16-18 as we walked through New York City’s Metropolitan Pavilion.

We had arrived. Our personal Mecca. Spin Expo 2013.

Spin Expo is a conglomeration of textiles and fibers designers, producers and entities vying to network with others. For PAN, our mission was simple: let others know about whom we are, what we do and what makes us different. To help in the endeavor, we took along with us a group of special friends who were a hit. It was a success.

The PAN team had a great time connecting and reconnecting with others in the fashion and textiles industries. We received great interest, and we’re excited about PAN’s future prospects as a result of this trip. Our team knows sustainable, Made in American products are becoming more and more sought after, and the trip to Spin Expo just reaffirmed this fact.

There’s nothing better than having the opportunity to fraternize with buyers and other distributors. Especially in a place like New York City, a hub for the fashion elite.

During our time at Spin Expo, we talked to Arthur Friedman, a reporter for Women’s Wear Daily, one of the leading trade publications for the fashion, beauty and retail worlds. Mr. Friedman was working on a piece about global sourcing and textile and apparel manufacturing, and he decided to talk to PAN about our Made-in-American-meets-sustainable model. PAN creative director and designer Laurie Perrone was quoted in the piece, stating:

“We want to work with companies that have a strong consumer connection, that understand what it means to be a sustainable company and that believe in the Made in America movement.”

Laurie’s quote was used again in WWD’s weekly “They Are Saying” series.

For three days, the PAN leadership team managed to coalesce with other textile and fiber manufacturers, designers and others in the fashion industry. Suffice to say, our journey to New York City was a success. However, there’s still a great deal of work to be done. Here’s to the future.

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!

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).