Goats for Fiber
By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
Revised July 2015
Although sheep are often associated with wool production, some of the most extravagant fibers are produced by goats. These fibers include mohair from Angora goats and cashmere from many breeds of goats. Cashmere is a fiber in demand for its soft, warm and long-wearing characteristics. It is from the undercoat and is combed off the goat. White, brown or gray solid colored goats are preferred over mixed colored goats. The average yield is between 4 to 6 ounces of underdown per goat per year. The coarse and down hairs are separated by a mechanical process called dehairing. The long fibers are used in knitted garments. Shorter cashmere fibers go into woven fabrics. The fiber diameter must be less than 19 microns to be classified as cashmere. The typical range is 16 to 19 microns.
Figure 1 shows the different markets that goat fiber is sold in. Data is courtesy of the USD Veterinarian Service. Local markets account for 57.3% of total goat fiber sales.
Many goat operations do not have a primary focus of fiber production. It is most common that meat goat or diary goat operations produce fiber along with their primary products. The two most common fibers produced are mohair and cashmere. Angora goats produce mohair. Cashmere is a type of fiber, not a breed. Cashmere fiber can be clipped from almost any goat other than Angora.
According to recent statistics, one pound of mohair in the commercial market can sell for $3.00. Adding value to that product creates a higher return. Washing and preparing the fiber for spinners can generate up to $40.00 for one pound of fiber. Producing yarn with the fiber can create up to $150.00 in return.
Angora Goats are a Good Choice for Hobby Farmers
USDA Veterinarian Service
- Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute - This international trade association represents the interests of producers and manufacturers of cashmere fiber, yarn, fabric and camel hair and promotes the use of genuine cashmere and camel hair products.
- Cotton & Wool Yearbook, Economic Research Service, USDA.
- Emerging Textiles - Textile and clothing trade information. This site links textile news, including cashmere, imports and prices.
- Global Ag Trade System, Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA.
- Goat Industry Outlook, eXtension.
- Goats: Sustainable Production Overview, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2004 - This resource provides an overview of raising goats.
- Livestock Reports, Sheep & Goats, Texas Field Office, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.
- Mohair Council of America
- Producing and Marketing Quality Mohair, The New Rural Industries: a handbook for farmers and investors, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia - An overview of the Australian mohair industry
- Sheep and Goats, NASS, USDA.
- Tips for Marketing Sheep and Goat Products: Fiber, ATTRA, NCAT, 2013 (free download) - This two-page tip sheet explains the advantages and considerations of marketing sheep and goat fiber, and offers useful tips and additional resources.
- Web-based Training and Certification Program for Meat Goat Producers, Langston University, Oklahoma - This is a comprehensive on-line overview of the U.S. goat industry and includes management, marketing and business planning information.
- Wild Fibers magazine - This commercial publication is for those interested in the production and use of fibers.
- Wool and Mohair, Farm Commodity Programs, CRC Report for Congress, 2005 - This report provides an overview of the mohair industry.
- Wool and Mohair Marketing Assistance Loan and Loan Deficiency Payment Program, Farm Service Agency, USDA - Two forms of federal assistance are available to eligible producers for the 2008-2012 crop years.