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.
- 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
- National Goat Handbook, University of Maryland, 1997.
- 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.
- United States Standards for Grades of Grease Mohair, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, 1973.
- 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.
Links checked February 2013.