Cashmere is grown on any type of goat.

True: All goats when the weather is cold will grow a down fibre undercoat known as “cashmere”. The fibre grows under or through the harsher body guard hair. But the down growth is only ¼ - ½” long and is too short to be usable. Only Cashmere Goats have the length and crimp of fibre (memory) to be easily used for spinning and weaving. They are the largest of the three fibre goat breeds (Cashmere, Angora, and Pygora).

Cashmere Goats are not a recognized breed of fibre goat.

True: The term “Cashmere” defines the fibre produced but it can be grown on several breeds and types of goats. There are several different breeds of Cashmere goat found worldwide. The term “cashmere” was trademarked by the Paisley Company in England. Therefore, most people refer to the goats with cashmere fibre as “cashmere producing goats” to avoid a trademark conflict.

The British controlled the world fibre market from the 18th - 19th Century. In the early 20th Century, China rose in prominence with large Cashmere goat herds raised and developed in China and Mongolia (6 different regional breeds exist). They restricted export of their breeding stock. Looking for breeding stock to compete in the expanding and lucrative world fibre market, breeders in the USA imported breeding stock as embryo transplants in 1980 from Australia. Cashmere goats in Australia were developed from feral bush goats which were found to have down similar to the Chinese goats. The original Cashmere blood stock was a combination of feral dairy goats from the Outback and previous imports from France, Turkey and India. Large commercial herds developed in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Due to the expense of importing the Australian blood lines, males were crossed with Spanish goat females. Found in Texas, Spanish goats also had short fine “cashmere.” They are believed to be descendents of goats escaped from the Spanish missions that cross bred with native stock.

Some bloodlines in the USA now are crosses of the Spanish lines and some are bred mainly from the Australian import lines. Now after 20+ years of breeding in the USA, they are considered by most breeders to be a separate “breed” of fibre goat. Cashmere Goats raised in the USA are now identified as “American Cashmere Goats”. And most breeders keep records and pedigrees of their ancestry background. Unfortunately because of a lack of breeder cooperation, an official Cashmere breed standard has been approved nationally. A standard was developed and is used by a private Cashmere registry only.

Pashmina is another word for cashmere fibre .

False: Pashmina is a Persian word for “wool” that applies only to the fibre from the Himalayan mountain goat. The body and development of the goat is more like than of an antelope. The fibre is picked up or plucked from bushes after the goat sheds in the Spring. The fibre is usually blended with silk.

The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was lined with cashmere.

False: Good PR but false. In ancient times, the fibre of the “cashmere goat” was specific to the high Kashmir mountains of the Himalayas. The word “Kashmir” was converted by the British to “cashmere” in the 18th Century. The fibre was plucked from bushes the goats used to scrape off their winter coats. The fibre was so rare and prized that it was kept solely for use of kings. It is doubtful that the tribes of Israel were able to trade for it. The fibre for the lining of the Ark of the Covenant was probably from an antelope or sheep.

The color of the Cashmere fibre is the color of the goat.

False: Cashmere goats are double coated goats - with harsher guard hair with a soft down (cashmere) grown in the winter for protection against the cold. The cashmere down is naturally shed in the Spring. The cashmere fibre color is different from the guard hair (body color) except in whites and some greys only. The down is separated from the harsher guard hair for processing. The guard hair must be 3 times harsher than the cashmere fibre to de-hair easily and be cost effective. Cashmere that is machine processed requires 3 lbs. to make a run. Therefore all colored fibre is grouped together in batches and only 3 colors are produced - white, grey and brown.

But there are many natural colors in Cashmere Goats and for those who process their own fibre , they offer individual fleeces in unique colors. Red Cashmere Goats for example, have almond, yellow and apricot colored cashmere fibre .

The finest cashmere grows on the beard and belly of the goat.

False: Another PR attempt by a national clothing company. Most Cashmere goats do not have fibre on their belly and rarely in the beard. Cashmere fibre grows all over the goat down to the knees and chest. Sometimes they have fibre on their cheeks and forehead. Fibre on the face, in the skirts or edges of the body is too short and harsher to use. Prime fibre is harvested only from the shoulders to the hips and down the sides. The rest is used to make felt or discarded.

Cashmere fibre has to be 1 ½ - 2” long to be considered “cashmere”.

False: The cashmere fibre standard defines cashmere as being from 1 ½ - 4” long. The diameter of the fibre is referred to as micron.

    The fibre test standard for cashmere is:
  • Fine is under 16.5 micron.
  • Medium is 16.5 to 17.5 micron
  • Coarse is up to 18.0 micron

Any fibre over 18 micron is according to today’s standard, not considered to be Cashmere. Most commercial garments are made from medium cashmere fibre that is 16 - 17 microns. The cashmere fibre can be used 100% without blending with other fibre s and will hold up to the mechanical stress from spinning and weaving.

Shorter cashmere feels softer.

True: Shorter, finer fibre (13 - 14 micron) is similar to a human hair and in a large amount feels soft. But it is so thin that it can not be easily seen by the human eye and breaks easily. Just because it is soft, does not make it a better grade or a desirable fibre . Cashmere fibre also has to be usable and durable when made into a garment.

Softness or the feel of butter in a fibre is known as “handle”. It is a trait or mutation found only in some bloodlines. The scales composing the surface area of the fibre lie more flat and smooth than normal. Longer cashmere fibre with handle will feel as soft and smooth as short cashmere fibre .

Cashmere fibre is straight and has no crimp.

False: The characteristic that makes cashmere fibre unique is its structure. It has waves (or crimp) the length of the fibre . The finer the micron count, the more crimp it has. Cashmere fibre because of the waves in the fibre , traps a layer of air next to skin. The fibre is lightweight but very warm. For this reason most cashmere yarn is spun very fine and is 2 ply but sock and gloves are made from 3 ply yarn. Crimp is the memory of a garment that allows for the return of the shape of the elbows, shoulders, front panels when worn. Without crimp the garment will grow in size and bag in areas of wear. The locking of crimpier fibre together when shocked in hot water is known as “felting”. The garment shrinks in size and the fibre s become tighter and more dense.

Cashmere goats have to have long hair to protect the cashmere from sun damage.

True: If you live in an area with lots of sunshine, cashmere fibre can become damaged and brittle on the ends from exposure. Some breeders claim the longer guard hair also protects the cashmere fibre from snow and keeps the goats warmer in extreme cold. The downside to longer guard hair is that the cashmere fibre underneath also more easily felts from rubbing and body warmth in warmer weather. The long guard hair is harder and more time consuming to hand comb since you have to lift the guard hair up to comb the cashmere underneath, so most breeders shear their long haired goats. Shearing is usually done in early Spring before the warmer weather begins. The guard hair cannot be longer than 6” in order to machine process the raw fibre by machine. Unlike the short haired type which sheds their shaggy guard hair in the summer and are smooth, the long haired type’s guard hair continues to grow. In wooded and brushy areas, the long guard hair has tangled and caught goats in the bushes and they starved. Unless a breeder regularly shears to retard the guard hair growth in milder climates, the long guard hair can be deadly.

The gene for Cashmere guard hair growth can be both long, short or a combination. Both types can exist in a herd and both are considered Cashmere Goats. By selection, our herd is the short-haired type of Cashmere goat. We prefer the shorter guard hair for ease of combing and we do not shear. We live in Oregon where sun damage is not a problem.

Cashgora is an inferior quality of cashmere fibre.

False: The term is wrongly used by cashmere breeders to identify coarser cashmere fibre that does not meet the cashmere fibre standard. Cashgora is a hybrid produced by crossing an Angora (Mohair) with a Cashmere Goat. The resulting fibre has 3 different fibre types and is both shiny like the mohair and dull like the cashmere and contains some guard hair. The fibre is sheared and used right off the goat. The different fibre types produce a heather looking pattern when dyed. This is due to the how much each fibre absorbs the dye.

Cashmere goats have lanolin.

False: Cashmere Goats have a double coat of fibre and less than .05% lanolin in their fibre. [from Cashmere & Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute] Lanolin is a natural grease produced, mainly by sheep, to make the fibre water proof. Because the lanolin is such a small amount, water will penetrate their guard hair and fibre. Water will cause cashmere fibre to tangle and knot unless brushed out during the wet winter weather.

Cashmere goats are hardy and do not need any human care.

False: Cashmere goats are domestic goats and bred for their fibre. Their fibre growth has been increased, temperament and wild instincts modified for human contact and for ease of harvesting. They need a regular food and water supply, grooming, shots and maintenance like your cat or dog. Hardiness in the wild was developed because the goat ancestors avoided predators and disease long enough to breed and the weak died young. The modern farmer cannot avoid the large losses that “running wild and free” causes and has to be mindful of their neighbours and spreading a disease. They would also be cited by animal control for not caring for their goats.

When having their babies, most of the time the females do not need assistance but there is always the chance of difficulty or still birth. But some first time does do not know what to do and may need help having or nursing the new baby. Most breeders are available if needed because you cannot afford to lose both mother and baby due to inattention.

Cashmere goats should be bred young to ensure they can get pregnant.

False: In the beginning of the Cashmere industry, the import stock cost a great amount of money and in order to get back a return, young Cashmere does were bred at 45 lbs. Now the additional theory added to that is, that breeding early is needed to develop and stretch the pubic bones and ensure successful future pregnancy. Young bucks and does bred early, do not have the time to develop mentally and physically - they are still babies. Goats are sexually mature at 2 years of age and physically mature at 5 years of age. An older doe or buck can hurt or kill a younger goat. Young does bred to too big a buck will have a hard time having their babies due to an undeveloped and narrow pelvis. You risk losing both the mother and baby. Senior does will not mate with a male that is inexperienced or on a lower social hierarchy level than them and have been known to cripple or kill a young male. The practice of breeding young is cruel and stunts the growth of your breeding females. What should have gone into their bone and muscle growth was diverted to usually a single baby. If you wait another year, you have a bigger, mature goat that can handle the rigors of breeding and birth. Does usually will have twins when bred later at 18 months of age.

Cashmere goats will eat anything.

False: Goats are browsers like a deer. They eat a little, then roam to another area. They definitely have a taste preference and will eat plants in their different stages as the seasons change. They prefer shrubs, tree branches, bark, tougher grasses and most weeds. They dislike finer grasses and will not eat clover. They can lock down a portion of their backbone, like an antelope, and eat as high as they can reach. On our farm, the trees all have been sheared at goat height. Most sheep and goats thrive on pasture when the sun is shining and the weather is gentle. But when the sun disappears for the winter, the lack of sunshine drops the food value of the grass they eat. Goats gained a reputation for hardiness since they will eat both pasture and woody growth. They can survive on poorer pastures with less grass growth. But winter cold means that fibre goats will need supplemental feeding to stay warm and grow their fibre – timothy, grass or alfalfa hay. Hay stored up from the summer harvest. Fibre is composed of protein and built up from the food they eat. Starving your goat for a finer micron fibre growth is cruel and unnecessary. The background or genetics of your goat determines how fine a cashmere fibre they will produce.

Cashmere goats do not need their hooves trimmed.

False: Goat hooves have a thin hard shell like a fingernail covering a spongy core. The shell will grow and bend under, trapping mud and moisture inside. In the wild hooves are worn off by climbing over rough terrain and rocks. Wet and soggy ground softens the hoof material and in Oregon they need trimming every 3 months. Both the shell and the core must be trimmed flat or as the middle section grows, the goat will begin walking on its heels and the toes will go up. Goats developed secondary “dew claws” the fleshy bumps on the leg above the hooves in order to slow down progress when going down rocks. They are rubbery and act as a brake. Like hooves they also will need trimming as they age.

| Photos/Videos

Lan shows where Pashmina & cashmere is on the Goat.

Pashmina goats dying of starvation - The story

Cloned Pashmina goats help India's wool industry

Changthang | A high altitude plateau in western and northern Tibet

Remote ChangThang (Nyoma) in winter (Western and Northern Tibet)

The Invisible Disaster in Changthang, Ladakh

| Programs

| Environment Policy

The Government of India enacted Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 with the objective of effectively protecting the wild life of this country and to control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. The Act was amended in January 2003 and punishment and penalty for offences under the Act have been made more stringent. The Ministry has proposed further amendments in the law by introducing more rigid measures to strengthen the Act. The objective is to provide protection to the listed endangered flora and fauna and ecologically important protected areas.

| Community Based Conservation (Nature & Culture are Separate Issues)

Community-based conservation is a conservation movement that we are building through escalating protests and subsequent dialogue with local communities affected by international attempts to protect the biodiversity of the earth. Older conservation movements disregarded the interests of local inhabitants. This stems from the Western idea on which the conservation movement was founded, of nature being separate from culture. The object of community-based conservation is to incorporate improvement to the lives of local people while conserving areas through the creation of national parks or wildlife refuges. While there have been some notable successes, unfortunately community-based conservation has often been ineffective because of inadequate resources, uneven implementation, and over-wishful planning.

| Pashmina Fabric Test

The unique character of Kashmir Pashmina is not only attributed to its raw material but the entire manufacturing process that includes manual cleaning of fibres, hand spinning and weaving on a traditional handloom. The new generation "SECURE AUTHENTICATION FUSION LABELS " will be provided by Pashmina Goat Program that are introduced to provide quality certification as well as a collective brand identity to the Kashmir Pashmina goods. Goods Certified and Labelled as by Pashmina Goat Program, are expected to serve as a guarantee for buyers that their purchase is authentic and genuinely of its traditional origin.

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