Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Colored Angora Goat Breed History

The acceptance of the Colored Angora Goat as a recognized breed by the fine fiber and livestock community began in the early 1980's. Colored Angora Goats are essentially an outgrowth of the traditional white Angora Goat. The White Angora Goats have been agriculturally maintained for thousands of years.

Occasionally an Angora goat bearing color would by born of two white Angora parents. It was not some thing that shepherds of Angora goats were unfamiliar with despite its rare occurrence; it was just a product that was routinely culled from the herd.

Isa Jennings, a current breeder of CAGs (Colored Angora Goats) in Oregon U.S.A., is credited with making the first observations of this phenomena as an asset and not a detriment. She came across a faded red buck from a herd of registered white Angora goats; she also obtained a brown doe. Her idea and intent was to breed them together and see if the color could be sustained. She collaborated at this early stage with a good friend in Idaho, Linda Mercer, and they formed a partnership.

It was clear that they needed to find more examples of this phenomena in order to do breeding long term, so they traveled through the Navajo Nation in the South West, United States in 1985. This region of the country has plentiful Angora herds as well as a variety of other goats. The fruit of this trip was a small group of goats that were mostly black or reverse badger patterned goats. At this point, they published their experience and observations in an article in the Black Sheep Newsletter.

The Black Sheep Newsletter was a publication started and edited by Sachiye Jones, as a way to develop a relatively local market for wool producers. The newsletter has historically been in conjunction to the, now well known, Black Sheep Gathering. Black Sheep Gathering is a big show and sale that began as a small pot-luck event in Rickreall, Oregon U.S.A. in 1974.

The article was successful in galvanizing some interest and continuing the project; people emerged that were fascinated by the concept of the Colored Angora Goat. In 1990 Linda Mercer began the process of record keeping for the future breed. This led to work done in '91 by four people: Isa Jennings, Linda Mercer, Sharon Chestnutt and Roly Thompson. Ultimately, it was Sharon Chestnutt that created the functioning and lasting registry. She simplified the paperwork and developed the database; by the end of 1992 the Colored Angora Goat Record (CAGR) was up and running.

In time there were several means for inclusion in CAGR (eventually CAGBA): first, registry by virtue of direct offspring descending from the original recognized goats. Second, a continuation of the principal observation that color occurs naturally (although rarely) in traditional white herds, therefore, AAGBA, American Angora Goat Breeders Association registered white goats would be accepted as genetic donors. Third, (which took time to develop) should a breeder be successful in out crossing white and other colored Angora goats with a secondary goat breed used for lending color, that goat could be inspected, evaluated and accepted. Rigorous standards for passing were developed. It has been a necessary tool in order to have a large enough genetic pool to draw from to establish a viable and sustainable breed whose development continues today.

It is easy to see why interest in Colored Angora Goats has grown so much. They have all the attributes of the traditional whites with the new and exciting assets of a wide variety of natural colors. These colors include: many tonal values of black, silver, and gray; a wide range of tints and shades of red, tans, and browns. And, the fiber retains its excellent luster, reflective qualities, and shine through the color.

The number of breeders increased and the number of goats continued to increase. This eventually led to the desire for a larger organization whose primary mission was the protection and development of the record into an official registry. This is where this story becomes the story of the history of CAGBA, the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association. CAGBA officially organized in 1999, and opened its corresponding Registry in the summer of 1999. Sharon Chestnutt continued on seamlessly in the role of keeper and operator of the data base.

Today, CAGBA has a Constitution and By Laws, Non-Profit Tax Status, a Board of Directors, Elected Officers and Regional Directors through out the U.S. and Canada. It has developed a strict breed standard, method of training inspectors, and numerous inspectors in the U.S. CAGBA also sponsors a National Show, and there are many regional shows in association with the organization and/or this breed.

Research and Bibliography:
CAG Breeders Consulted -
Greta Dise, Persimmon Tree Farm, PA

Web Sites -
Black Sheep Gathering, Inc.

Both on the web and in the Inspectors Training Manual

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