Cashmere, the fine, soft wool that originally came from the Kashmir goat, is a type of wool that is desired around the world. While fainting goats are typically bred for their meat, fainting goat cashmere is another possible byproduct of your herd. Demand for cashmere, long sought for it’s soft, fine texture, has always exceeded the available supply. In addition to being soft, cashmere is also warm and often outlasts wool.
Cashmere Goats, Not a Breed
Cashmere goats are a type of goat, not a breed of goat. There is no such thing as a purebred cashmere goat, which means it may be possible to get fainting goat cashmere out of some of the goats on your farm!
With cashmere, the fleece is a combination of very fine, crimpy down and the longer, outside, coarse, straight hairs. The cashmere fibers must be separated, either by combing out the down or using a commercial dehairer. Long, fine fiber is used in knitted garments. The shorter down fibers are used in woven fabrics. The guard hairs are used in rugs or tailored garments.
In the United States, under the U.S. Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, states that a wool or textile product may be labelled as containing cashmere only if:
- Such wool product is the fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat (Capra hircus laniger);
- the average diameter of the fiber of such wool product does not exceed 19 microns; and
- such wool product does not contain more than 3 percent (by weight) of cashmere fibers with average diameters that exceed 30 microns.
- The average fiber diameter may be subject to a coefficient of variation around the mean that shall not exceed 24 percent.
Fainting Goat Cashmere Production — Selecting your Goat
Fainting goat cashmere comes in during the winter months, and the level of cashmere produced varies with each goat. At the end of winter, the goat sheds the cashmere and returns to its normal coat.
Cashmere goats can be chosen from either dairy or meat goats. The best time to pick your cashmere goats is toward the end of the growth-stopping period.
To assess your fainting goat cashmere, part the guard hair to determine whether or not there is down underneath. If your goat contains the gene for down you can develop it into saleable amounts over time. Very tightly crimped down–the character or style of the fiber–is the most desireable. Buyers of cashmere pay based on the down weight of the dehaired fiber. Cashmere down is typically white, brown, or gray in solid-colored goats. Down from mixed-color goats, which is less desirable, is classified as white with color or mixed color.
Over time, you may be able to breed your fainting goats for higher rates of production, which can be translated into a new revenue stream for your operation.
Learn more about fainting goats starting on our Goats 101 Page
Do you have experience with fainting goat cashmere production? Have you ever considered checking your fainting goats for cashmere characteristics?