Cashmere Goats – The Best Breeds for Fiber Production?
Have you ever thought about getting goats for cashmere production? Getting into fiber production can sometimes seem like a challenge, but the first step in this process is simple: getting the right breed of goats for cashmere. Indeed, not all goats are necessarily a good breed for fiber production, and keeping this in mind may help you choose the ideal goat breeds for cashmere production. Of the different breeds, the cashmere goat is one of the breeds most synonymous with production.
But what are cashmere goats, and could they be the right choice of goat breeds for your needs? We’ve outlined everything you need to know to help you learn a little more about the best goat breeds for fiber production and how you can begin your cashmere journey!
What are Cashmere Goat Breeds?
Cashmere goat breeds are breeds that produce high quantities of cashmere. Some of the most common cashmere goat breeds include the Australian Cashmere Goat, the Angora goat and the Nigora or Pygora goat (crosses between Angoras and either a Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy Goat, respectively). Many cashmere goats may also be of mixed heritage and genetics os may not necessarily be of a particular breed.
What is a Cashmere Goat?
Many people assume that cashmere is a goat breed in its own right, but this is not always true. Indeed, in many cases, a cashmere goat is actually a category of goat that produces large amounts of cashmere – the soft undercoat on a goat’s coat. While all goats produce a little bit of cashmere, cashmere goat breeds have been selected over the generations for much higher cashmere production, allowing the cashmere to be harvested and used to create luxurious cashmere products.
However, while a cashmere goat is actually a type of goat, many countries have cashmere goats that do not conform to common goat breeds. As such, it’s not uncommon for a high-producing goat to be classed as a cashmere goat, even if it isn’t necessarily that.
However, when talking about cashmere goats as a breed, we tend to think of goats such as the Australian Cashmere goat, and other similar animals. These goats typically have small, white faces with floppy ears, much like a Boer goat; however, a cashmere goat’s ears are usually a lot shorter, usually stopping before the chin.
Most cashmere goats are white, which is the easiest color cashmere to work with, but some cashmere goats may come in all sorts of colors owing to their mixed heritage.
How do Cashmere Goats Produce Fiber?
Cashmere goats produce fiber naturally. In fact, pretty much all goats produce cashmere, and it’s not uncommon to see this during the winter, even in breeds such as the Boer goat which is produced for meat production.
However, while almost all goats produce cashmere fiber naturally, cashmere goats have the unique ability to produce higher quantities of fiber thanks to selective breeding, focused on selecting genetics for goats that produce higher than normal amounts.
As such, if you have a cashmere goat and want it to produce high-quality cashmere fiber, you won’t necessarily need to do anything special. They should start producing cashmere all on their own, especially when the weather gets colder.
How to Harvest Fiber from Cashmere Goats
Cashmere is produced naturally by goats as a means to keep warm during the winter months, which also means that it’s usually naturally shed. However, trapping around a field picking up all the loose, straggly strands of cashmere doesn’t sound like an overly appealing activity, does it? Luckily, you can actually harvest cashmere from cashmere goats very easily with one of two options.
The simplest and quickest option is to shear your cashmere goat. Shearing or clipping the cashmere goat will remove its entire fleece, giving a very large amount of cashmere and guard hair. However, the guard hair isn’t overly valuable in this regard, so if you choose to shear your goats, you’ll need to sort through the harvested fiber to ensure it doesn’t get too contaminated with guard hair.
Alternatively, for a higher-quality product, you can comb the fleece. Since your goat should already be set to shed the fleece, combining their fleece just before they do so can help you harvest their cashmere easily and controllably without the fleece getting contaminated with guard hair. Of course, this is much more time-consuming, as you’ll need to comb every goat by hand. However, it gives substantially higher-quality cashmere as a result.
When is the Cashmere Ready to Comb?
If you’re planning to comb your cashmere goat, you’ll want to wait until the cashmere is ready to shed naturally. This occurs when you can gently remove the cashmere from the goat’s fleece with your fingers with no resistance or tugging whatsoever. You should never attempt to remove the goat’s cashmere before it is ready to shed, as this could be incredibly painful – imagine someone trying to pull your hair out! Ouch!
Luckily, once the cashmere is loose, it is comfortable for the goat, and many even seem to enjoy having that itchy old winter coat pulled out!
Getting into cashmere production can sometimes seem like a difficult goal, but it really shouldn’t have to be this way. Indeed, in many cases, starting out with the right breed is all it takes to get into cashmere production; from there, you can begin creating all manner of amazing products, from sweaters and scarves to winterwear and more.
However, it’s important to recognize that, while cashmere goats are not necessarily a breed in their own right, they are generally recognized as a “type” that is highly praised for producing ample quantities of premium-quality cashmere overall. As such, if you’ve been looking to make cashmere products, it’s important to choose a breed that’ll give you plenty of cashmere to work with.