The most Luxurious fiber in the world, cashmere fibers, comes from a typical breed of goat named Cashmere goats. Found in semidesert regions and high mountains, these pack animals are famous for the white coats that are often regarded as the ‘Fiber of Kings’. This blog includes distinctive features, diets, and habitats of these animals for cashmere, the status of beautiful cashmere, and some frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents

Taxonomy classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderArtiodactlya
FamilyBovidae
GenusCapra
SpeciesHircus
SubspeciesCapra Hircus Lanigerus

Appearance and Physical description

Cashmere goats are medium-sized animals with a muscular and compact body. They have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other goat breeds.

This breed of goat is known for its soft and dense cashmere wool, which grows in a thick cashmere undercoat during winter. The outer coat is coarser (also known as coarse hair) and helps protect the animal from harsh weather conditions. The wool is typically white, but some Cashmere goats may have a brown or gray tint.

The head of a Cashmere goat is broad and flat, with a short, thick neck. The ears are medium-sized and pointed, and they carry a tuft of hair at the tips. The eyes are large and expressive, and the nose is short and wide.

The body of a Cashmere goat is muscular and compact, with a deep chest and well-rounded hindquarters. The legs are strong and sturdy, with thick, curved hooves that provide excellent traction on rocky terrain. The tail is short and thick, and it helps the goat regulate its body temperature.

Both male and female Cashmere goats have horns, which are curved and spiral in shape. The horns are typically shorter in females than in males, and they are used for defense and competition during mating season.

Habitat of Cashmere Goats

Cashmere goats are native to the mountainous regions of Central Asia, specifically the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau. They are well-adapted to their harsh and rugged environment, which is characterized by cold temperatures, high altitudes, and rocky terrain.

Cashmere goats prefer to live in areas with abundant vegetation, such as meadows, grasslands, and shrublands. They are also found in areas with snow and ice, where they can graze on the vegetation that grows beneath the snow.

In their natural habitat, these medium-sized goats typically live in small herds, led by a dominant male. They are social animals and communicate with each other through vocalizations and body language.

Cashmere goats are also known for their ability to survive in harsh conditions. They are able to withstand extreme cold and snow, and they can go for long periods without water. They are also resilient to diseases and parasites, which makes them a valuable resource for local communities.

Commercial use

Cashmere goats are primarily raised sustainably for their high-quality cashmere wool, which is in high demand in the textile industry. The wool is known for its softness, warmth, and durability, making it a popular choice for luxury clothing and accessories. Even the separated guard hairs are used for making rugs. 

Like other farm animals, these dual-purpose goats are also raised for their meat, which is lean and flavorful. The meat is typically consumed locally, as it is not as widely traded as other types of meat.

In addition to wool and meat, these goats are also used for their milk, which is rich in protein and fat. The milk is used to make a variety of dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and butter.

Rearing goats for Cashmere has led to the development of a thriving cashmere industry, which is worth millions of dollars annually. The industry employs thousands of people, from farmers and shepherds to textile workers and traders.

Diets

Cashmere goats are herbivores, which means they primarily consume plant material. In their natural habitat, they graze on a variety of vegetation, including grasses, shrubs, and herbs.

The diet of these domesticated goats varies depending on the season and the availability of food. During the summer months, when vegetation is abundant, they may consume a variety of grasses and herbs. In the winter, when snow covers the ground, they may graze on the vegetation that grows beneath the snow.

Cashmere goats are selective feeders, which means they prefer certain types of vegetation over others. They are particularly fond of legumes, such as clovers and alfalfa, which are rich in protein and other nutrients.

In addition to grazing, Pashmina Goats may also consume shrubs and bushes, as well as bark and twigs from trees. This is particularly true during times of drought or when other vegetation is scarce.

Cashmere goats are able to extract nutrients from a wide variety of vegetation, which allows them to survive in their harsh and rugged environment. However, they are also susceptible to nutritional deficiencies, particularly during times of drought or when vegetation is scarce. In these cases, they may require supplemental feeding in order to maintain their health and well-being.

Threats

Cashmere goats face several threats that can impact their survival and well-being. Cashmere goats are found in arid and mountainous regions, which are increasingly being used for agriculture, grazing, and other human activities. This has led to the fragmentation and degradation of their habitat, which can result in a loss of vegetation and water sources, as well as increased competition for resources.

Cashmere goats are susceptible to a variety of diseases and parasites, which can have a significant impact on their health and productivity. Some of the most common diseases and parasites include pneumonia, foot rot, and internal parasites. This threat is more prominent during the gestation period so special care is needed for mother cashmere.

Cashmere goats are adapted to their harsh and rugged environment, but they are also sensitive to changes in climate. Increased temperatures, droughts, and extreme weather events can have a significant impact on the availability of vegetation and water sources, which can negatively impact the health and productivity of the goats.

Cashmere goats are sometimes targeted by poachers and hunters, who may kill them for their meat, wool, or hides. Cashmere goats are also at risk of predation by a variety of predators, including wolves, foxes, and eagles.

Status

The majority of the world’s supply of cashmere comes from countries such as China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Australia. China is the largest producer of cashmere, accounting for 60% of the world’s supply. The Inner Mongolia cashmere goat is a local breed known for its high-quality cashmere production.

In recent years, the production of cashmere has been increasing in Australia and New Zealand, with Australian breed goats becoming the standard for cashmere wool. The United States has also seen the development of a cashmere industry, with approximately 500 cashmere goat farms in the country. Cashmere products from the high mountains of Nepal have also been trendy accessories in the market.

Selective Breeding programs have been initiated to develop more productive cashmere goat breeds, and the demand for cashmere has consistently exceeded supply due to the unique feel and quality of the fiber. Cashmere goats are relatively easy to raise, healthy, and require minimal care, making them an attractive option for farmers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Cashmere goats live in the US?

Yes, Cashmere goats can live in the US. First imported in the 1980s from Australia and New Zealand, these goats are easy to raise in the United States.

Are Cashmere goats expensive?

Cashmere goats are one of the most expensive herbivores in the world due to their social nature and soft downy undercoats.

Are cashmere goats hard to raise?

Cashmere goats are very easy to raise as they are easy to care for, breed, and feed.

Do cashmere goats need to be sheared?

The long hair makes these goats prone to parasites, overheating and threats (due to slow movement and poor vision blocked by hairs) so their undercoats need to be shredded and separated from guard hairs at least once a year.

Why is Cashmere so expensive?

200-300 grams of cashmere wool per goat each year, this is the amount herders get from a single goat every year. There are finite or limited regions that produce pure luxurious fiber of cashmere in the world. These two are the main reasons for expensiveness of Cashmere. The price of cashmere products depends on the size of microns in diameter which reflects the quality of cashmere.

(Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Sadrish Dawadi is a Mountain Ecologist, an expert on the impact of climate change on humans, animals, and plant species. As an activist for animal welfare, he believes an animal's eyes can speak a great language of the planet's state and environmental condition.