What do handspinners want when they buy raw cashmere? First, they want good style. Style is the degree of crimp that each cashmere fiber. It is style that allows the fibers to hang together during the spinning process. Second, they want clear differentiation. Differentiation refers to the difference in diameter between guard hairs and down. The guard hairs should be straight; not wavy in any way. Thirdly, they want handle. Cashmere should have that indefinable feel of the softness of fine cashmere. Lastly, the length of down is important. While the longer fibers are easier to spin, the shorter, and frequently finer, cashmere fibers can be wonderfully carded and blended together with another compatible fiber. Merino and cashmere blends are lovely as are others. Click here to read more about spinning cashmere.
Growing quality cashmere is not easy. But with a little training and knowledge of what type of fiber is required by the processors, it is possible to maximize returns to the point where maintaining a herd of cashmere bearing goats is a profitable enterprise. Knowing what the processors want is the first step. Step two is learning how to recognize fleece that falls within those parameters. Then and only then can we begin to undertake a selective breeding program that will result in the upgrading of the current gene pool into one that consistently produces goats that grow cashmere under known conditions. Knowledge is the key. To read more about Basic Cashmere Classing, click here.
Capricorn is proud to publish a new page named “Training the Herd Dog”. Here you will find a comprehensive review of the steps required to train that border collie or Kelpie or whatever to help you control your animals. To view this page, click here, click on “Navigate” and/or scroll down to “Goat Management” on the sidebar.
Are you interested in breeding goats, but don’t know where to start? Are you an established breeder but can’t seem to make any genetic progress? Capricorn Cashmere! can help guide you through the maze and give you sound advice. You too can own a viable livestock enterprise that can be expected to return your investment dollar.
World markets for the downy undercoat produced by goats have long recognized cashmere as the finest fiber known to Man. Victorian England prized the famous “ring shawls” woven in the Indian State of Kashmir… shawls made from fiber shed as goats moved to high mountain summer pastures. The lowly goat was man’s first domesticated ruminant. Ancient burial sites in China reveal that the goat was a revered and integral part of the culture of early man. Goats even helped man discover coffee by passing undigested coffee beans that were later used as fuel for fires. What a surprise that must have been! Goat produce meat, milk, hides for shelter and fine fiber to weave into warm clothing. Today, there are approximately 25,000 goats in the United States that can provide cashmere to entrepreneurs willing to exploit this resource. Because the fiber is so fine, one goat only produces 1/4 to 1/2 of a pound of fiber per year. And this fiber is hidden within a protective layer of guard hair, which must be separated out before processing can begin. This is why cashmere sweaters are so expensive. But because cashmere is the lightest weight, warmest and completely non-irritating fiber known to man, it’s worth it!
World markets for natural fibers have been rising due to demand created by fashion designers. Here in America, a few large producers in Maine & Washington are working to allow producers of the raw product not only an outlet to sell fiber at above world prices, but also an opportunity to value-add their product. Raw cashmere is worth $35 to $50 per pound. Prices quoted are for the “down” (dehaired batt) that is expected to be produced from a fleece. These prices are not for total weight of the raw fleece. You cannot multiply total fleece weight times estimated yield, or even measured yield and come up with the total fleece value. It is important to understand this concept before trying to market your fiber.
The goat also produces meat that sells for up to $3 per pound on the hoof and $10 per pound dressed. Milk from cashmere producing goats is usually not present in sufficient quantities to warrant harvesting. Think of trying to milk an Angus cow as opposed to a Jersey cow. Cashmere goats are basically meat animals that produce this wonderful by-product. Additionally, goats can maximize production on marginal rangeland. What this means is that the goat, while not willing to eat anything (tin cans come to mind), they do love to eat weeds and they will do so on the top of the most inaccessible hill available.
So if you have a weedy pasture, or a rocky hilltop that the cows won’t touch, or if you just love goats like I do, read on.