Waipu goats are naturally self-shedding and do not require shearing. However, their fleece is fine and soft with an exquisite lustre. As Waipu goats have not been selectively bred for their fibre, they have a few guard hairs along their spine which can make the end product a bit prickly if these are not shorn off first – and discarded.
Canterbury breeders Jill and Michael Nawrocki shear their Waipu goats by first removing these guard hairs and the resulting fleeces are beautiful to work with.
If shorn at the right time, a Waipu fleece does not come in one piece like some sheep fleeces as the fibres have no scales that keep the fleece together. Waipu fibre is similar to suri alpaca fibre when it comes to spinning – it ‘flows’ through the spinners hands and can be spun un-carded.
The end product is smooth as silk and probably one of the most unique natural fibres around. Combine this with the fact that Waipu Goats are rarer than the iconic Kakapo and you have something hardly anyone else has.
Waipu fleeces take dyes well and Ashford dyes seem to intensify the fibre’s luxurious lustre. Most people will be able to wear a garment made from selectively shorn Waipu goats touching the skin as there are no irritants.
• Waipu breed page •Thanks to Marina Steinke for supplying the information and photographs for this page.