When I think of cashmere, I imagine soft luxurious sweaters, high-priced outer apparel and soft, exceptionally warm blankets and pashmina shawls. If you’re a fiber enthusiast, you’re thinking goats…ALL goats downy undercoat… or ‘underwear??’ ~~~ is what we call cashmere!
Seasonally, as autumn approaches, all goats ‘grow’ a soft downy undercoat that help to insulate and keep the goat warm through winter. The guard hair is the visible outer coat. The ultra-soft cushy ‘cashmere’ is normally shed out in Spring. The owner of the goat usually combs the goat out during several combings (goats rarely shed out all at once) to ‘harvest’ the cashmere for processing. The average goat yields 4 to 6 ounces of cleaned, de-haired cashmere per year.
Cashmere goats are not a breed per se; they are a type of goat that’s selected due to their supreme cashmere production. My Pygmy goat, Oreo, produces a very fine ‘cashmere-like’ undercoat compared to my dairy goats! Cashmere goats come in all colors and usually produce white, cream-colored, light-browns and gray cashmere/undercoat.
Today, China is the largest producer of commercial cashmere. Thanks to the development of the North American Cashmere goat breed standard, you can find some homegrown cashmere finery right here in the U.S.
Is there a cashmere goat in your future?