Need Advice and Support for Cashmere Goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Mountain Mom, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Mountain Mom

    Mountain Mom Active Member

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    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern VT
    Through our good fortune (I think!) we have acquired 3 Cashmere goats - Mom 3yo, baby7wk old and Dad 2yo - . I have always wanted fiber goats - we have a few dairy goats so we are somewhat familiar with goats. This is my first experience with handling fiber from the source (I've knitted for 2+ yrs, hence my interest in sourcing my own fiber.) My questions are:

    * Any advice on handling new adult goats would be greatly appreciated. My dairy goats were bottle fed - we received them about 4-7 days old, so they are no problem handling. Neither of these Cashmere adults are mean or aggressive, they are just shy and it's obvious that they've had minimal human physical contact. The buck has eaten out of my hand and they both talk to me whenever I'm around. But I would love the hear from anyone with experience in this area.

    * These new goats have obviously not had their fiber cared for recently, it appears very clumpy and straggely. Should they be shorn or should I rake them? I doubt that the fiber on the female is worth working with - very dirty, and clumped with various "stuff". The buck looks good, although a tad messy. I guess raking could be a good 'bonding' experience?

    * I've searched the internet but have not been able to find out how to handle the fiber once removed from the goat - any ideas for books or web sites would be SOOOOO helpful. Plenty of info on wool....is it the same? I didn't think so.

    * These adults are a bit boney - I don't think they were in the best of care, although they are healthy in terms of teeth, feet, eyes, etc. Any ideas for increasing health? They didn't appear to have any pasture available to them, but the will now and lots of it!! They also weren't given any grain on a regular basis or vitamin/mineral supplement. I'm on the right track? Just give them time? Poor guys..they're beautiful and I see lots of potential, I just want to do them right.

    Anymore more advice or recommendations for Cashmere/Fiber Goats and the handling of their fiber would be greatly appreciated.

    TIA
     
  2. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Washington
    Some people do shear their cashmeres. But then you have to deal with all of the guard hairs. I personally comb (or rake) my goats. I comb them on a regular basis through the winter so they're used to it and really like it - and I don't have nearly the amount of hair to deal with. :) I still do get ratty clumps on my goats that I just leave alone because I don't want to deal with it, the clumps are usually right around their belly area.

    I have found only fleeting references to dealing with cashmere, so I'll just tell you what I do and what my experience has been. Once it's off the goat, I put the cashmere in lingerie bags (those really light mesh ones) to scour it. I just use a squirt of dish soap and lots of hot water - same as scouring wool. Once it's cleaned and dried, I get out the hand cards and pick out the guard hairs by hand while I'm picking out bits of hay and other stuff. I use medium cards, because that's what I have - fine cards would actually work better. As far as spinning, cashmere is very fine and doesn't hold together as well as wool does - so it takes a lot of twist and likes to make a very fine yarn. I don't trust my cashmere to be strong enough for a warp yarn, but it's just divine as weft. In a final garment, cashmere fulls a bit more consistently than alpaca (which does nothing, nothing, nothing, and then suddenly felts) but not as well as wool does.

    I have not dyed any of the cashmere. Frankly I'm not interested enough in dyeing to get good at it. So I can't help you at all with that.

    My critters get all the green grass and brush they can stuff down during the day. At night when I put them up in the barn they each get 2 cups of alfalfa pellets and some sunflower seeds (I don't measure out the seeds). They have loose minerals in the barn. They're definitely not starving... So yes, I think you're on the right track. Lots of good pasture, a handful or so of grain and your fiber goats should come right around. I don't feed grain because I have a couple of wethers and don't want to deal with calculi problems - I've also found they do fine without it, your experience may be different. They do need plenty of protein to grow that wonderful soft thick undercoat.

    The adult goats will probably not get as tame and cuddly as your bottle babies, but they should get used to you and let you handle them a bit. Combing them regularly will probably help with that - once they realize that the itchy spot in between their shoulders will be scritched on a regular basis, they tend to come around. I know one lady who uses an old dairy stand to hold her goats so she can comb them - I've never had to do that.

    Watch their feet. Cashmere's have a tendency toward soft feet that can be a real problem when it's soggy out. I check feet once a month, and I have one goat that still gets wall separation problems (him I check once a week). Otherwise, I've found them to be really easy keepers.

    You might see if you can find "The Angora Goat" (It's History, Management, and Diseases) by Stephanie and Allison Mitcham. It does have a chapter on cashmere goats.

    Enjoy your cashmere's! They are sooooo soft once that new coat really starts coming in, just like hugging a cloud. What color is the undercoat? I have one white, one gray, and a couple who turned out to have oatmeal undercoats. I'm actually looking to breed more of the gray ones because they are so easy to blend with other colored fibers (although I fell in love with another oatmeal doeling...).
     

  3. Mountain Mom

    Mountain Mom Active Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Northern VT
    Thanks for the encouragement! I did think that raking would help "us" to get to know each other better and sounded less stressful for the newcomers.

    You asked about color? The mom and dad have a light chocolate undercoat. His is much curlier and hers is more frizzy. I assume that the quality of their cashmere(and other hair) right now is due to lack of proper nutrition, exercise and cleanliness. They didn't have much more than a 12 x 15 chain link area to play in - which was shared with 5 other pgymies and a milker with babe. No pasture that I could see.

    The baby, oh, he is the cutest black curly 'lamblike' baby. I assume that he will progress into colors like the parents? He's very shy right now, but this morning I was able to give him a quick scratch or two behind the ear before he got too nervous and ran to mom.

    I am excited about their adoption into our family! It will be so good to see them progress into healthy, happy companions. I just love watching my other goats out in the pasture - frolicking and playing about. Thanks again!
     
  4. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    My experience has been that the color they're born with is basically the color you'll get. They come in all sorts of color combinations, so it's very likely to get a carmel colored doe with black feet from two white parents. That's part of the fun for me. And they're all so pretty and soft!