COMBING – The hormonal change associated with parturition seems to be the signal for the does to start shedding their cashmere. Unfortunately, it is the finest fibers that are shed first; so close watch must be kept to begin the harvesting process before shedding becomes noticeably advanced. This is also a good time to collect data that describes the fleece quality. If the goat has guard hair that is more than three times the length of the cashmere, the guard hair should be trimmed off before combing begins. There is no commercial use for guard hair so all the trimmings should be removed and not included within the bag of harvested cashmere. Not all the cashmere will be released from the skin follicles at the same time so it is preferable to comb each goat multiple times during March, April and May. Goats in good condition will not shed as many guard hairs during combing, thereby increasing yield. If a doe is an elite doe, fleece from each individual should be bagged separately and the bags from each combing session combined in order to assess the total cashmere production.
Traditional cashmere combs have long, sharpened tines with a bale that moves back as the comb becomes full of cashmere. This is an effective method of harvesting cashmere, and it is much better for the goats to have some cashmere and guard hair left on them after the combing season as protection against spring weather.