Goats for Fiber
Revised November 2021
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 2018 USDA statistics, one pound of mohair in the commercial market can sell for up to $7.88. 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 (USDA, 2020).
USDA FSA, 2020
- 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.
- Livestock Reports, Sheep & Goats, Texas Field Office, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.
- Mohair Council of America
- Sheep and Goats, NASS, USDA.
- Wild Fibers magazine - This commercial publication is for those interested in the production and use of fibers.
- Sheep and Goats: Frequently Asked Questions - ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture