Cashmere goats are really the reason for Canvas Ranch. It was on a trip to Italy in the winter of 2000 that I first encountered a cashmere goat at Chianti Cashmere. I was in love! They are the most elegant, entertaining, energetic animals you have ever met. Take a look at Monet on the right, looking every bit the superstar he is of our flock.
Cashmere is not an actual breed of goat but a description of a goat that has been carefully bred to produce cashmere fiber. All goats except for Angora goats produce two coats of fiber: coarse outer guard hair and a second or down coat which grows and is shed seasonally. When that down coat is less than 19 microns in diameter, is low in luster, and has a nice crimp, it is considered cashmere.
Cashmere goats are easy to raise. They are healthy animals and take only minimal care. They are not jumpers like many other goat breeds and standard woven wire sheep fencing will contain them. Minimal shelter is all that is required to house them due to the insulating properties of their dual coat, which is shed for the summer.
HISTORY OF CASHMERE
From Tibet, rooftop of the world, to the high plateaus of the Gobi desert, the downy fleece of the Kashmir goat bestowed delight on maharajahs, the Roman Empire and the courts of Europe. For hundreds of years only royalty could afford to indulge in the pleasures of cashmere. It ranked with gems as among the most precious gifts of nature.
Napoleon started a fad for cashmere shawls when he gave his second wife, Empress Eugenie, seventeen of them. Queen Victoria shared the passion. And, Beau Brummell stirred envy when he sported his white cashmere waistcoat early in the 19th century.
Today, cashmere is still unrivaled as the world’s most luxurious fiber.
WHAT IS CASHMERE?
Cashmere is the down shed annually by goats living in the high, dry plateaus that stretch from northern China into Mongolia, surrounding the Gobi Desert. In order for these goats to survive they have coarse outer hair that repels the weather. Beneath that external coat lies a much finer fiber, cashmere, which insulates these animals from the bitter cold.
It takes each of these rare goats four years to produce enough cashmere for one sweater. In order to collect the cashmere, each goat is combed by hand every spring. The fleece is then collected and sorted by hand. In addition, the sweaters are usually knit on hand-operated machines. Converting cashmere into luxurious garments is achieved only with extraordinary time and skill.