Origin and diffusion
Breed of fiber goats initially selected in the Kashmir region (north-western region of India) and in neighboring areas for many centuries according to historical records.
Today the cashmere goat it is bred in many other states (India, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, North America, Australia and New Zealand, Europe) for the production of the highest quality fiber.
Cashmere is a very thin fiber and therefore adaptable to numerous processes also combined with other textile fibers. The range thickness is variable being generally between 11-18 micron (according to the most accredited international standards) against an average of 22 micron of the finest wool used by textile companies.
The first world producer of raw cashmere is China (from 60% to even 90%) where however animal husbandry practices have often caused some problems for the management of the flocks which are scarcely interested in protecting the territory.
Obviously there are also other countries in the area such as Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, which have high annual productions often facing different quality standards. Since the last century the cashmere goat has also been bred in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and France. However, Italy remains a leader in the transformation of the product thanks to the most ancient techniques alongside the most recent technological methodologies with productions that place products in the luxury sector.
The processing is similar to that of wool, with the difference that the cashmere, often collected when lost from cashmere goats or combed and not shorn, it must be degreased or separated from the upper fleece which in very small percentage is lost by the animal (jug) with warmer temperatures, then recovered and used for padding, for the procedure felting or to produce rugs.
In Italy the reality of the farms is different and there is no real recognition of the cashmere goat, which implies the registration in the registers as a hircus goat which however the most careful breeders to improve each season their fiber have made up with the help of laboratories of the analysis of the certified fibers (such as the CNR itself) to have fiber test with which to select the best bloodlines. Every fiber test has scientific validity since associated with a single animal and not to the whole flock from the relationship with the identification number of the animal itself and only if released by an accredited laboratory. With these intents it was born Cashmere Goat Breeders Union which brings together breeders who, deciding to work for a continuous improvement of the cashmere goat in Italy, obtained the first registrations thanks to the scientific material developed with the support of accredited scholars.
By selecting the best strains, season after season and by importing the best breeders from the breeding areas from abroad, some companies have managed to significantly improve the quality of the fiber produced on average in a flock.
Cashmere or the duvet or underfleece of the cashmere goat is collected by combing in the spring. Once cleaned, it becomes a luxury handicraft product that is well suited to working on wooden textile looms such as cashmere scarves worked as canvas.
Compared to sheep's wool, cashmere has an advantage: it does not require fabric softener, and indeed with washing it becomes softer. This is because while the sheep produces lanolin, a fatty substance that impregnates and protects the wool by waterproofing it, and which is largely eliminated by washing after shearing and then by washing in the washing machine, in cashmere this process is reduced.
There fiber quality however, it is very different depending on of the selected animal and a series of factors that are still being studied by numerous scholars (some of whom are in collaboration with Giasone Cashmere).
The color of the upper fleece of the animals is variable in the different strains but the collected cashmere will be divided into shades ranging from white-cream to gray and from brown to black. Often for industrial production the industry prefers light colors to be able to dye them more easily.
Cashmere Goat Scottish Strain (www.giasonecashmere.com)
Morphological and productive characteristics
Cut it: medium-small.
Horns: present in both sexes; of variable length and characteristic shape of the selected strain.
Pile: The upper one can be long or short, with colors ranging from cream to black (typical of the Siberian strain) meeting all intermediate shades.
- Males a. Kg. 50-100
- Females a. 30-40
Production fiber: variable depending on the sex, the age of the animal and other exogenous factors. In a correctly balanced flock, every hairdo 250-350 g per year of raw fiber usable per head. The best males (for example the competition specimens can reach 800 g of fiber.
Cashmere goat micro flocks for the cleaning of previously uncultivated soil (www.giasonecashmere.com)
Cashmere goat has been selected with wild or semi-wild breeding methods, above all to survive in extreme environmental and climatic variability, also protected in extremely cold conditions by the thermal insulation of the combination of jars and cashmere. Due to these characteristics, fixed housing is not recommended for cashmere goats, whose breeding is instead very simple and cheap.
The necessary structures to breed the cashmere goat I am minimum and extensive grazing allows the reuse of disused or difficult to maintain land.
Milking in some cases precisely because of the mammary conformation of the species (udder collected and covered with top fur for protection in free grazing in the undergrowth) is almost never the primary activity of this breeding.
The species is well suited to a part-time breeding in terms of work required per head reared or as a related activity on farms or agritourisms that have certain expenses of maintaining the most difficult farm land.
The protection of the flock is well suited to the use of guard dogs so as to make the breeding immune to attacks by wolves and wild dogs, while respecting coexistence in areas where they are present.
The equipment required for combing, if done, is very simple, that is carding combs which, moreover, in this phase facilitate the human-animal relationship.
The development of the short chain creates not only a more sustainable product but additional added values: collateral activities such as trekking, pet therapy, land cleaning on behalf of third parties, re-evaluations of the corporate image given the green impact on the territory.
The Cashmere Goat is an income animal with few pretensions and an advantageous agricultural production since it is diversified, very interesting for the new generation of breeders as long as it starts from selected leaders of excellent genealogy.
Cashmere goat herd (www.giasonecashmere.com)
Browne, Goats in Pinus Radiata Agroforesty, in Cashmere Goat Notes pp. 250-254
Lanari, M.R .; Pérez Centeno, M .; Arrigo, J .; Debenedetti, S .; Abad, M. (2009): "Razas locales y fibras caprinas, bases para un desarollo tutal del norte de la Patagonia Argentina".
Card edited by Nadia Giasone - www.giasonecashmere.com