The American Cashmere is a distinct breed of fiber goat which produces cashmere wool that refers to its two-coated fleece or downy and smooth guard hair which is one of today's lucrative raw materials processed to meet the surging demands for commercial quality and quantity.
The Cashmere breed found in the United States are said to come from the feral goat breed which originated from Australia. The research on cashmere down production started in the early 1970s wherein the American purebred goats are producing down but is not abundant enough for commercial purposes. It was in the 1980's that Cashmere goats were imported from New Zealand and Australia. Proper and standardized selection and breeding was done with the purebreds and the Cashmere breed. The Cashmere industry then was formally established in the United States. The Cashmere industry in the United States is still at its developing stage but has enormous potential to becoming a major global producer.
American Cashmere goats are relatively large sized and has a mild nature which makes this breed compatible alongside cattle and sheep. This is also very easy to handle as they are relatively smaller than dairy goats. Cashmere goats are typical bred and raised for purposes of meat production, land cultivation, and fiber production. The mature male usually weighs around 150 lbs, while the mature female weighs 100 lbs.
The American Cashmere usually produce offspring from February to March which is also the most conducive period for selecting and purchasing goats. These are usually weaned around three months of age. Breeders get to see the Cashmere goat's full fleece usually in December just before shearing.
Cashmere is a term coined from the smooth down undercoat or fleece produced from Cashmere goats. This is considered as one of the luxurious and rarest fibers in the world. The fleece from Cashmere goats are composed of two major fibers:
* Fine Undercoat: This is basically the source of Cashmere fiber manufactured into clothing.
* Course Outer Hair: This is referred to as guard hair.
American Cashmere fiber is very lightweight, warm, soft, and durable which makes this one of the most esteemed and highly prized fibers used for coats and sweaters.
The genetic background of the Cashmere goat is considered vital in Cashmere production. The Cashmere fiber is basically the goats winter undercoat and its consistency and volume depends on some important factors such as selective breeding and seasonal changes. The volume of down produced is dependent primarily on the fiber length, diameter, and general fleece coverage. The growth of the cashmere fiber is highly responsive to light as it usually starts to grow in the summer months and ends during winter season. The Cashmere goat then natural sheds its winter undercoat from December to March which is also the most convenient time for shearing. Cashmere harvesting is done in two ways in combing or shearing. Larger Cashmere goats are sheared while the smaller herds are typically combed to collect the fleece.
Aside from producing elegant cashmere suiting, Cashmere goats are highly intelligent, agile, and are great pets when tamed properly.