white doe and twin kids

Goat Knoll - Cashmere goats and cashmere fiber from an Oregon farm

Home | Cashmere Goats | Farm Products | Farm Store | What's Up? | Contact


Cashmere goats - Basic Information

GK Annie - cashmere doe

 

GK Annie - a cashmere doe. This photo was taken in the summer before cashmere growth began.

 

GK Quinn - silver buck

 

GK Quinn - silver buck.
A handsome fellow (at least the does think so).

 

Bucks Mickey and Silas

 

GK Mickey, son of JRW Black Bart.
That's Silas peeking from around the tree.

What is cashmere?
Cashmere has long been one of the most exotic and rare fibers to be found. The soft undercoat of hardy cashmere-producing goats has traditionally come from nomadic herders in the remote mountains and deserts of the Orient. The fleece of the cashmere goat is made up of two distinct types of fiber - one is a fine undercoat (under 19 microns) which is the source of the luxurious cashmere fiber. The other fiber is a coarse guard hair. All goats (except angora goats) produce some cashmere, but it usually isn't long enough to be marketable. Cashmere goats have been bred specifically to improve the quality and quantity of cashmere they produce.
How did cashmere goats come to the U.S.?
In the early 1970's researchers began investigation of the down produced by American goats. They found that many goats did produce cashmere but not enough to make it economically viable. Because of the potential for cashmere in the U.S., animals and embryos were imported from Australia and New Zealand to establish herds here.
Why would I want to raise cashmere goats?
Cashmere goats are a wonderful small animal that can be raised on a few acres. They can also be raised to compliment an existing sheep, cattle or other animal farm. Goats help improve pastures through weed and brush control. They produce a luxurious fiber that can be harvested, processed and sold to others or used by the owner to create beautiful garments. Cashmere goats are presently used for for breeding stock, fiber production, weed control, meat and pelts. They are wonderful for small homestead enterprises and 4-H projects.
How much cashmere does one goat produce?
The amount of cashmere a goat produces depends on a number of factors including genetics, age, health, pregnancy and size of goat. A good cashmere doe will generally produce about 4 oz. of cashmere fiber per year. The quality and quantity of cashmere produced depends on the fiber's diameter, length, style (crimp of fiber) and coverage on the animal. It takes the cashmere from about 3 goats to produce a sweater which is why good cashmere is generally quite expensive.
When and how do I harvest cashmere?
The cashmere fiber is actually the goat's winter undercoat. It begins growing in late June and stops growing in late December. The best time to shear here in Oregon is late January or early February. Shearing must be done before the animals starts to shed its winter coat. Shearing in colder climates is usually later in the year. Breeders with small herds have successfully harvested cashmere by combing out the cashmere when it begins to shed. Combing is more labor intensive but the raw fleece can generally be successfully hand dehaired if necessary and requires little in special equipment or skills. Hand combed cashmere may also be commercially dehaired. Cashmere harvested by shearing requires commercial processing to remove the guard hair. There are several dehairing mills in the U.S. and Canada capable of washing, dehairing and processing cashmere into rovings or yarn. There are now several options for turning your raw fleece into a marketable retail product. This has not always been so.
How do you care for cashmere goats?
Cashmere goats are cared for much like any other goats. Goats are browsers and thrive on brushy pastures. They also do well on hay or improved pastures. Some does may require grain during late pregnancy and lactation, depending on browse available and hay quality. The less land you have to provide feed for your animals, the more supplemental food (hay) will be required. Trace mineral salts need to be available. In some areas additional selenium and other vitamins may need to be supplemented. Parasite control and foot trimming are a necessity for the general good health of the goat. Cashmere goats very hardy animals, easy kidders and good mothers. Goats require shelter from the wind and rain. Buildings can be simple 3-sided sheds.
What about fencing?
Goats require good fences. They do not do well tied out to a stake as they cannot defend themselves against predators. We prefer 4 foot woven field fence with one strand of electric wire about a foot off the ground, but others have success with electric fence systems. Keeping your goats contained is important, for keeping peace with your neighbors and for protecting them from predators.
How can I start with cashmere?
Do as much research as you can. Talk to other goat owners. Visit other goat farms/ranches. Get in touch with one of the cashmere associations:-

Northwestern Cashmere Association
Eastern Cashmere Association
Texas Cashmere Association
Canadian Cashmere Producers

Be sure you know what you want from your goats and are ready for them before you bring them home. It will make for a more enjoyable experience for you and your new goats.

For more information about cashmere goats, check out Resources

This page last updated April 23, 2012

Top of Page | Home | Cashmere Goats | Farm Products | Farm Store | What's Up? | Contact