Cashmere is such a luxurious fiber that the Arc of the Covenant of the Old Testament was lined and curtained with it. China produces sixty percent of the world's supply of cashmere. Other countries that produce cashmere are Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kashmere, Australia and New Zealand. The first Cashmere goats in the United States were imported from Australia and New Zealand in the late 1980s.
Cashmere goats are a type, not a breed. Most goat breeds, except Angora, can produce this down in varied quantities and may be called Cashmere goats. There is no such thing as a "purebred" Cashmere goat.
The fleece consists of two kinds of fiber -- cashmere and guard hair. The cashmere fiber is very fine, crimpy down, and the guard hairs on the outside are usually straight, longer and coarse. A goat that does not display both types of fiber should be avoided. They are sheared once a year and a full grown adult buck will yield as much as 2.5 pounds of fleece. Average cashmere percentages are in the 20 percent range of the total fleece. The fleece can be sold to wholesale buyers, or it can be dehaired and sold to hand spinners.
Cashmere fibers must be separated, either by combing out the down or by using a commercial dehairer on sheared fibers. The longest, finest down is used in knitted garments and the shorter down in woven fabrics. The separated guard hairs go into rugs or hair canvas used in tailored garments.
Doe pictures are from Goat Knoll Farm, Dallas,Oregon.
Picture of buck is from Green Water Farm, Port Townsend, Washington.
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