A cashmere goat is a goat that produces wool. The cashmere from this type of goat is an extremely soft, fine, downy winter undercoat that is prized highly for making unbelievably light soft, and warm garments. The commercial quality and quantity are also very good.
Cashmere goats are bred in Central Asia, where they have also been used for over one hundred years. These goats grow the undercoat when the day length shortens and also have an outer coat with coarse hair that presents throughout the year. Beneath this coarse outer coat of hair, the soft, fluffy underfur usually present in all goats is specifically luxuriant and forms the product which makes people value the breed.
The Cashmere goats vary in build and color. However, the most highly valued has slender limbs, large ears, horns that are curved and spreading and not spirally twisted, and a long, straight, very silky white coat.
Europeans first made a discovery of the fiber in the Ring Shawl. Ring shawls were very fine, soft, and warm shawls that could be pulled through a wedding ring— hence the name. In addition, some research shows that the western world’s demand for the Cashmere fiber began when Napoleon brought back a ring shawl for Josephine, his lovely wife.
Regardless of when the trend began, cashmere still remains the definitive luxury fiber. In addition, a few years ago, China approximated the population of their Cashmere goats to be 123 million. China stands out as the largest producer of this highly-priced cashmere.
- Local breeds were found to be dominant. Hence, breeding programs were started to develop more productive breeds.
- Cashmere goats are fiber goats, along with the Nigora goat, Pygora goat, and the Angora goat.
- These goats take their names from their origin in the Himalayan region of Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir.