Cabrito Markets

Markets for goat are centered around ethic populations in urban environments. Arabs, Greeks, Hispanics and Asians are significant consumers of goats. Therefore, cities such as Los Angeles, Vancouver, Miami and Houston are prime examples of good goat market centers. However, it is not possible to waltz into the local Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, HEB or Albertsons and buy cabrito off the shelf. It’s just not available. The reasons for this fact are both varied and convoluted. It is very difficult to locate a slaughterhouse that will kill and wrap your market animals. They cite the possibility of “scrapie” (a very bad disease that doesn’t occur in goats and is related to mad cow disease) in goats as the reason they won’t handle the goat offal (non-meat leftovers). This makes no sense, but that doesn’t change the facts. Slaughterhouses that charge per pound of meat processed also refuse to process goats because they are used to the skinny little dairy goats that are sometimes presented for kill. They can’t make money killing those goats and they assume that all goats are created equal. Not so.

The third most cited reason is that they often don’t have enough goats on any given day to assure kill line efficiency. This has been a problem in the past. It’s almost a chicken-and-egg conundrum. If we had enough good, fat goats to process we could do it cheaply and efficiently. But we can’t get enough goats unless we slaughter a few at first and establish our markets.

Weed Control Using Goats

Goats are highly preferential feeders and if the plants on the top of the goats’ list are also available, goats will eat those plants exclusively until those species are gone. The major drawback is that the most preferred goat foods are also species that are valuable and prized by humans… plants such as ornamental shrubs, trees and flowers. Guard these species carefully or else the goats will strip them bare. But if goats can be confined in a pasture that is dominated by some noxious weed, such as thistle or better yet, leafy spurge, the goats will happily munch on these plants to the exclusion of others. Especially with spurge, to which the goats become addicted, palatable species such as Timothy hay, clover and other hayground species will go practically untouched as the goats nip every available spurge flower. There are tracts of land in the northern tier states (North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska) that are virtually 100% spurge. The going rate for leasing spurge eating goats is $4 per head per month. Add it up. Even with providing fencing or supervision, this can be a significant income source.

Growing 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.

Breeding Cashmere Goats

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.