BEFORE READING THIS I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO READ MY OTHER POST “WHEN IS A CASHMERE GOAT NOT A CASHMERE GOAT?”
One of the advantages of WordPress is the breakdown it gives you of what people are searching for when they land on your Blog. This heading, or something very similar is cropping up at least 6 times each day recently. I have blogged about this before (see this post to save me repeating myself too much) but thought I would put another resume here to help those looking into this.
Firstly, whatever scale you want to keep them on QUALITY is KEY! As I explain in my earlier post, buying cashmere goats without some guarantee of fibre quality is as silly as buying a house without ever having a survey done. You just would not do it. Cashmere is a complex fibre to understand.There are only a handful of people keeping Cashmere goats in the UK and most are NOT keeping them for fibre but for meat. The trus quality tested Macaulay Institute Cashmere goat I keep can easily lose fibre quality if it is not kept carefully with full breeding records and a rigorous testing programme in place.
Abroad, where Cashmere keeping is more common, many keepers when they finally begin a testing programme, find that they actually have “Cashgora” animals ie goats with fibre which is half way between cashmere and the tough outer guard hair. Worthless on a commercial scale and a total nightmare to eliminate from a flock once established. Buying quality tested stock is essential to avoid this.
In order to really understand quality issues you need to know about cashmere fibre in great detail also and how it is processed. For this you need some expert help or tuition. I of course can provide this but regularly get long involved emails asking for full information, costings, how I run my business, what mistakes to avoid etc – all for nothing! I am happy to help but do not expect to get detailed help for free -its totally unreasonable!
I should also say, if you are looking to keep just a handful and make money then forget it. If you have only a few acres and lots of other animals then a few cashmere goats are simply NOT sensible. They produce very small amounts relatively and it is a thankless task to dehair cashmere by hand which is the only option available to you on a very small scale. It is totally uneconomic to keep them in this way. Obviously you might want to start small and build up – that’s different, but expecting 6 goats to keep you in cashmere jumpers is unrealistic!!
I have 200 females here and currently 24 adult bucks with another batch coming along plus loads more genetics in the freezer. I spend over £800 per annum on fibre quality testing. My returns cover costs – no more. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I run a very special flock here. These are the last and best of the MLURI breeding flock with some of the best goats in the world. I have full breeding records etc right back to the earliest days of the Research programme in Scotland and maintain the flock as a labour of love. Making piles of money is not a priority. Maintaining the quality and increasing the flock size definitely are. We produce SUPERB cashmere which is in demand by The North Circular and many other designers and I need to increase numbers gradually. Careful breeding every year is the key to maintaining that superb quality. The wrong mating will produce an average goat, the right mating will produce an excellent fibre animal. It’s a complicated, technical business.
Then there are the challenges of keeping these goats on a day to day basis. They are not dairy animals so if you have ever kept goats before then forget virtually everything you know. They are proud, independent flock based animals which are happiest kept in large numbers where the conditions are just right for their needs. They do not appreciate being kept inside for most of their lives nor being kept in just tiny groups. A few will make the transition to being pets but very few. They still retain an air of aloofness and are always wary of strangers.
So, if this hasn’t put you off, get in touch and I’ll attempt to inform you a little more. But do not expect me to tell you how to do what I do! I have not the time and certainly cant afford to do anything like it for free! Cashmere goats are NOT for the faint-hearted and you need to have your eyes wide open before walking into keeping them but you must not expect me to hold your hand for nothing!