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Goats for Fiber

By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.

Revised August 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.

A goat enterprise offers producers the choice of selling fiber as well as meat. The two most common fibers produced are mohair and cashmere. Angora goats produce mohair. Cashmere is a type of goat, not a breed. Cashmere fiber can be clipped from almost any goat other than Angora.

As of January 2013, the United States had 136,000 head of Angora goats, down from 146,000 head in 2012. Mohair production in the United States during 2012 was 770,000 pounds, down from 840,000 pounds the previous year, and was valued at nearly $3.0 million, down from $3.5 million in 2012. The average price paid for mohair was $3.9 per pound compared to $4.2 per pound in 2011. A total of 136,000 goats and kids were clipped. Most of the U.S. mohair originates from Texas, followed by Arizona and New Mexico.

The Mohair Council of America notes that Angora goats will provide approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing in the United States. This is typically done two times a year. The fiber length averages 12 to 15 centimeters long. Mohair features a fiber that is elastic and takes dye well. It is used for suits, sweaters, coats and home furnishings.

The United States is one of the primary world sources of mohair, along with South Africa and Turkey. In 2012, the United States exported 316.9 metric tons of mohair valued at $2.2 million. Both value and volume decreased from the previous year. The top export destination was South Africa.

Cashmere is a fiber in demand for its soft, warm and long-wearing characteristics. Cashmere 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. China leads the world in cashmere production. U.S. production statistics were not available.

Some fiber producers do their own processing and sell the fiber as yarn or other woven products. Other producers may hire a commercial facility to process the fiber for a fee. Others may sell the fiber as a raw products through a cooperative.

Other Links 

Links checked February 2013.

Related Links

Angora Goats - Inventory, Number Sold, and Mohair Production: 2007 and 2002, 2007 Census of Agriculture - State Data, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, 2009.


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