The Cashmere goat is well-known for its soft hair. If you’ve ever owned a Cashmere sweater, you need to thank these goats. Their fur is soft and warm, but their rarity and slow growth rate is one reason why Cashmere is so expensive.
These goats are relatively new to the United States and aren’t particularly popular. However, their wool has been used for centuries. They are native to the Middle East and Asia, where they are quite famous, and their fiber is a significant export.
Recently, Australia and New Zealand have started their Cashmere goat lines, choosing the best genetics to import. This program has had great success and resulted in better goats.
Often, in the United States, Cashmere goats have other goats somewhere in their lineage. This is because finding other Cashmere goats to breed yours to can be difficult. Breeding programs aren’t uncommon, but a “purebred” Cashmere is rare.
Quick Facts About the Cashmere Goat
|Species Name:||Cashmere Goat|
|Temperament:||Wary but calm|
|Size:||41 to 47 mm|
|Diet:||Plants, hay, grain|
|Compatibility:||Not very friendly|
Cashmere Goat Overview
Before we begin, it is vital to point out that the Cashmere goat is a type of goat, not a single breed. Many goats fall into this category. Typically, they are the result of specified breeding programs that end up producing unique goats. Usually, each breed has been bred in a different climate for a different thing, hence all their differences.
Cashmere is a soft undercoat that all goats have, except for particular breeds. Usually, a Cashmere goat is simply one that grows a lot of this undercoat, allowing humans to harvest the fiber and use it to make clothes.
What counts as a Cashmere goat may depend on who you ask.
Most Cashmere goats are grown mostly for their undercoat. However, in North America, goats are also used for meat. The dual-purpose was important during the settlement of the country and continues to be important today.
There are a few organizations that register this goat and keep track of its standard. For instance, the North West Cashmere Association, Canadian Cashmere Producers Association, and Cashmere Goat Association have created a breed standard.
How Much Do Cashmere Goats Cost?
It depends on the exact breed you’re aiming to purchase, as well as where you are located. Some breeds are specific to certain areas, so you may not be able to purchase them. For example, the Australian Cashmere goat is mostly located in Australia. Those in the United States will have a hard time getting their hands ahold of one.
Prices do not always affect quality. Sometimes, breeders may charge a lot simply because they have a monopoly on the goat in their area. However, prices are still usually a sign of quality. A $500 goat and a $75 goat probably have a lot of differences. Cheap goats will usually give you more problems. There is a reason they’re cheap!
The quality of the breeding program also matters. For instance, someone who has spent years on his breeding program will likely charge more for his goats. Someone who doesn’t spend very much time on the program likely won’t charge very much.
We recommend purchasing the best Cashmere goat you can afford. It is better to buy a few excellent goats and breed them instead of a bunch of lower quality goats.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
There is no “average” Cashmere behavior, as there are many different breeds. Each breed has its specific behaviors and will differ from other Cashmere breeds.
Still, there are some common traits this breed usually possess. For instance, most Cashmere goats are a closer relative of the feral goats, which means they aren’t as friendly as most. They tend to be a bit wary of people, especially when it comes to handling. They are not as tame as some others.
However, they are also relatively calm and manageable. They aren’t as jumpy and active as others. They usually won’t jump fences or climb to great heights, which can sometimes be a problem with other goats. Generally speaking, any fence that can hold a sheep can also hold a Cashmere goat.
The Cashmere mother will bond closely with her children and is usually very good at taking care of them. They need little human intervention in most cases. This links back to their feral background.
Appearance & Varieties
There are lots of different kinds of Cashmere goats. We’ll take a quick look at some of them here.
How to Take Care of a Cashmere Goat
While these goats are relatively healthy, they require a draft-free shelter where they can escape extreme weather. Predators are a problem in some areas, though your solution to this problem can vary. For instance, many people use dogs to protect their flocks, while others rely on heavy-duty fencing.
Either way, a solid goat fence is necessary. It doesn’t have to be too tall, as these goats aren’t the type to jump fences. Cattle panels are a good option if you’re looking to protect your goats from predators using fencing.
This goat’s fur begins growing on the longest day of the year and stops growing around the shortest. However, it will shed when the warmer weather arrives in the spring if it is uncombed or uncut. Combing and sheering are both methods for harvesting the down fur. If you choose to shear the coat, you’ll need to use a commercial dehairer to separate the topcoat from the bottom coat.
You will need to sheer or comb your goat between December and March, depending on your area’s weather. This will allow you to harvest the fibers after it has stopped growing, but before the goat sheds it.
Alongside this yearly combing and trimming, these goats will need their hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks.
You will have to train your Cashmere goats to be handled. Many of them are quite aloof with humans and prefer to be left alone, which can be a problem when it comes time to sheer or comb them. You will need to start with lots of handling when they are kids to use it when they are larger.
We also recommend training your Cashmere goat on a lead, as you never know when you’ll need to use one. Start when they are young and with very short distances. You can build up the distance over time.
Do Cashmere Goats Get Along with Other Pets?
Cashmere goats are usually pretty indifferent towards other pets. They are OK with other goats, as they are herd animals. Most are naturally fearful of predatory animals, like dogs. However, dog breeds that are designed to interact with goats will typically gain their trust.
They don’t care much about cats or other small pets. They are usually OK with other livestock, like cows. As herd animals, they tend to accept other herd animals into the family readily. They are not territorial or anything of that sort.
What to Feed Your Cashmere Goat
Most Cashmere goats do just fine with fresh plants. They will graze to meet their nutritional needs and to stay busy. They are natural browsers, so they do best on an intensive or rotational grazing system. They’re pretty low maintenance in this regard.
In addition to fresh plants, they will also need quality hay, freshwater, and minerals. They are not overly picky about their hay, so the type you choose doesn’t matter all that much.
When they are pregnant, the does will need grain to maintain body condition. Grains should not be provided to all goats, though, as most grains are a bit higher in fat than the average goat needs. Does will also need extra food before breeding and while nursing. They will need more protein during these times as well.
Does that are lower weight may be more likely to abort. Stress, disease, moving long distances, and cold weather can also lead to spontaneous abortions.
You may have to supplement more heavily with hay seasonally, as fresh plants become harder to come by. This depends on your climate and land, though. In some places, there are enough fresh plants to sustain the herd throughout the year.
Goats do not have a natural layer of body fat. Therefore, they need to be well-fed before and after shearing to ensure they can stay warm. Goats may use their shelter more during these times, as they are not very good at keeping themselves warm.
Keeping Your Cashmere Goat Healthy
The main worry with goats is parasites and pneumonia, which is most common after sheering. Lice will need to be actively controlled by spraying after sheering, which should reduce the infestation the next year.
Coccidiosis is a serious threat to kids. If one of your goats is not growing correctly, they are likely infected with this parasite. Usually, they can be given a special de-wormer that will cure the infection, though it can be deadly if not treated.
Be sure to trim your goat’s hooves. They will need to be trimmed less when on rocky ground, which produces quite a bit of wear.
Vaccinate your goat from diseases that are common in your area. We recommend establishing a good relationship with a vet that specializes in livestock. You will likely be fighting diseases in your herd at least once or twice.
Clip your goat’s horns if they are sharp and pointy. You can use bolt cutters or a similar device. This is for your safety and the goats. Sharp horns can cause all sorts of injuries to both you, the goat, and other goats.
Cashmere does can be bred when they are around 80 pounds. Bucks reach maturity at about four months of age, though it is recommended to wait until 6-9 months of age to assure that they will be reliable.
Most goat breeds are seasonal breeders. This means that they mate at a specific time of the year. Usually, this is from August to December, though it can vary based on the exact breed of Cashmere goat you have. A doe will go through an 18–21-day cycle during this time until she is bred.
Some meat breeds will cycle all year. Some Cashmere does will do this if they have these genetics in their line, but this is somewhat rare.
Cashmere goats have a gestation period of 150 days, which is about five months. Cashmere goats are usually excellent mothers and need little human intervention. They usually give birth to one kid, but twins and triplets can happen. The kids will need protection from severe weather and may require a heat lamp.
Are Cashmere Goats Suitable for You?
Cashmere goats are the only producers of Cashmere, hence their names. They’re best for those that are looking to harvest this fiber. Some are also dual-purpose and can be used as meat goats as well.
These goats aren’t the friendliest, as they are relatively similar to feral goats. They need lots of handling to accept grooming. This should start at a young age so that they are accepting when they are older.
Like goats, they require very little maintenance. They need protection from predators and must be given a sheltered area to protect themselves from the weather, significantly after they have been sheared.
Featured Image Credit: Tsewang Gurmet, Shutterstock