Last update: April 4, 2012 11:49:45 AM E-mail Print

 

Hints on mohair classing and marking

CC Kritzinger

 

SEVEN years after the mohair classing regulations were last gazetted; they are due to be amended. The new regulations are to be promulgated by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Marketing, but the basic chart has already been prepared by the Mohair Board and distributed through the Brokers. The idea was to get producers gradually accustomed to the new marks, starting with the 1970 winter clip. Many producers have already used the marks. Problems have been encountered, and this brief article seeks to guide producers in the classing of the 1971 summer clip.

The length description has been changed to the metric system of millimetres, but basically the old concepts of length of the symbols A, Band C have remained: the respective millimetre gaps have been chosen to correspond very closely to the old 6", 5" and 4".

The old length symbol D has undergone a change in meaning. It used to apply to all hair of less than 4 inches in length. Now it will be applied specifically to hair of 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm), since a new length symbol of E has been brought in (EK, EYG and EH) to cover hair shorter than 3 inches (75 mm). Producers should not have any difficulty with the length symbols, but a word of caution is perhaps not out of place. Many producers "stretch the inch" too much when the length symbol is placed on a bale. They should bear in mind that the 150, 125, 100, and 75 mm., respectively 6", 5", 4" and 3", represent the shortest end, and not the longest, allowed under the respective marks of A, B, C and D. Furthermore, the length variation allowable for B, C and D is only 25 mm (one inch), which means that uniformity of length in a bale is very important. The past winter gave buyers a lot of trouble in this respect – widely varying lengths in lots - but this was due mostly to the severe drought, which resulted in excessive length variation in virtually every fleece. This point will bear careful watching.

The fineness symbols FK, K, YO, FH, H and R have remained, but it is very important to note that K and YG have now been rigidly defined as a minimum of 33 and 36 microns respectively, with the corresponding Bradford counts of 6 and 5. Any hair coarser than 33 microns in the kid lines must now go into the YG lines, and any hair coarser than 36 microns in young goat lines must now go into the FH or even H lines.

This is particularly to be borne in mind when dealing with MK and MYG. Stronger necks and britches, which do not belong to the fleece lines, are usually put into the M lines. If now the kid necks and britches are fairly strong, stronger than a true kid type, the correct mark will be MYG and not MK. In the same way many supposedly MYG lots should more correctly be marked MH. In the case of MH there is no upper limit of coarseness.

Many producers make serious mistakes with the fineness symbols. They stick fairly rigidly to the custom of marking mohair from a kid with FK or K, no matter how strong the hair may be as a result of good grazing or of breeding. The same is done with the young goat clip, using the YG mark.

The fineness symbols are not necessarily a reflection of the animal's age. Generally this will be the case, but producers must watch the grazing conditions and the type of animal, which they breed. Robust summer kids on good grazing will not easily yield long FK hair, and more correctly deserve a K mark. In the same way some winter kids can become YG and some young goats can become FR. At the same time, in reverse, if the clip is fine enough to qualify for a higher fineness symbol than the age of the animal would indicate, there is nothing wrong in giving it such a higher mark.

As a general guide one can accept that the bulk of the Summer kid clip will receive the FK mark, and only a small portion will have to be given the K mark, In Winter kids the reverse will be true: the bulk of the hair will be K quality and only exceptionally fine fleeces will warrant the FK mark under normal grazing conditions. Young goats, shorn at an age of between 15 and 21 months, will generally qualify for the YG mark, but some of the hair will have to go into the FH lines. First adult goats, shorn at an age of around 24 months, usually yield FH hair, but some may already be H quality and only a very small portion may be fine enough for YG marks.

In fineness, as in length, the greatest sin is not the bad spelling of marks but rather the extent to which producers mix finenesses in a bale. The most important feature of good classing is the uniformity of a lot in fineness, length and general appearance (style and character, colour, etc.).

With these general points as background, let us now look a little more closely at the fourteen new types, BFK, CFK, DSFK, DFK, EK, KLOX, DSYG, EYG, YGSTN, BFH, CFH, DFH, EH and XSDY.

There should be no problem in deciding upon the use of the marks XSDY, KWX and YGSTN, since they indicate exactly what they are. Only, remember that in YGSTN the fineness is laid down as maximum 36 microns, which means that only true young goat qualities and the finest belly lines of young adults will qualify.

The short lines (EK, EYG and EH) are also easy to understand and apply correctly. Here producers must guard against using EYG too freely on short adults: short hair generally feels smooth and soft as a result of yolk, but is not necessarily fine.

The new class DSYG covers that portion of the correct length (3 to 4 inches) of the old DYG class, which has good style and character. The hair must be sound, solid in appearance, virtually free from kemp and seed before it can qualify for this mark; otherwise it must be marked DYG.

The new class DSFK caters for stylish short kids, and will generally find use in the first kid clip. Some kids are born much later and yet are shorn with the older, longer fleeced, ones. The DSFK mark may also apply to some winter kids, who are shorn early, but generally the DSK mark will apply in winter. In the old system the DSK mark covered both summer and winter hair, and in a sense it has now been split into two types.

We are now still left with the six interesting and very important classes BFK, OFK, DFK, BFH, OFH, and DFH. Let us take BFH to explain what has been done here.

In the old system we had the classes BSFH, BSH and BH for long adults. By definition, BSFH and BSH represented stylish mohair, with a fineness symbol F to differentiate between them. The type BH covered hair of open and average appearance, and the fineness could vary quite a lot. Over the years producers and brokers, aware of the fact that some of the open BH types were much finer and received prices more in line with BSH and even lower priced BSFH, started using the BSH mark for such hair. The introduction of the BFH mark seeks to solve the problem.

In future the BSFH mark should only be used for fine adult hair of really good style and character. Generally this type of hair will be shorn in winter and some in summer (from animals at an age of around 30 months). The BSH mark will apply to stylish hair, which is stronger. The BFH mark will cover hair which is open and average in appearance, but it will have to be really fine, the type of hunger fineness found during droughty seasons. Mere openness of fleece is not enough: the fineness must be present. If it is not fine, then the BH mark must be used.

Elsewhere in this issue we publish the mohair sale prices of part of the past winter season, showing the new types. It will be seen that the type BFH is high in price, not far below the BSFH, with BSH much further down and not much above BH. This shows that BFH will only represent a small portion of the clip, and the mark should not be used lavishly.

The same approach applies to the marks CFH and DFH, and once again the sale reports clearly show their respective value and volume positions.

In the case of kids the identical problems existed, and the use of the marks BFK, CFK and DFK should help considerably. Here it will be found that most of the open summer kids will qualify for the F symbol, but in winter only a very small proportion will be fine enough, depending more particularly upon feeding conditions.

The Mohair Board's staff applies the classing regulations very strictly, and the prices published by the Board for the different classes are a very good guide. If a producer finds that his own price for a type is far away from the Board's figures for that sale, he would be well advised to look more closely into his classing and marking. Some mistakes are made by buyers and inspectors, but these mistakes only prove the general rule. Buyers very seldom "buy a mark", as it is known in mohair circles; they normally buy according to bale content, and only extraneous factors (too numerous to explain here) might result in prices, which are out of line.

 

Published

Angora goat and mohair journal 13 (1)