Cashmere is the goat’s soft, downy undercoat, grown to its maximum length by mid-winter and shed in early Spring. The quality of the cashmere fleece is determined by three factors: its length, its diameter, and the degree of crimping. Cashmere fiber is crimped (rather than wavy), soft, and lacking luster. By industry standards it must be at least 1-1/4′ long with an average diameter less than 19 microns. The crimpiness of the fiber gives it “loft” and enables garments made of cashmere to provide warmth without weight.
The American cashmere industry promotes high standards in regards to raising good healthy animals bearing exceptionally good cashmere fiber.
The Pygora Breeders Association (PBA) was formed in 1987, maintains the registry herd book, and only goats registered with the PBA may bear the name ‘Pygora®’. In addition, all Pygora goats must conform to the Pygora Breed Standard, which includes conformation, color/patterns and fleece characteristics. Pygoras typically produce twins, with kids weighing about 5 lb. at birth. Adult does (female Pygoras) average 80-120 lb. and must be at least 18 inches tall. Adult bucks (male Pygoras) and wethers (neutered males) average 75-140 lb. and must be at least 23 inches tall. An engaging personality, manageable size, hardiness and fleece in a range of colors, make Pygoras a perfect fiber goat.
Pygoras® are bred to produce fine fiber for hand spinning, and have a lofty, soft, fiber that does not coarsen as the goat ages. A Pygora is generally sheared twice/year, and depending on fleece type, raw fleece yields are between 0.5-3 lbs/shearing. Pygora fiber is very versatile. It can be spun, felted or woven, blends beautifully with fine wools or with silk, and is easily dyed using natural, acid or food dyes. Pygoras will have one of three fleece types:
- Type A—this fleece averages 6 inches in length, is long, lustrous, has ringlets and should have very few guard hairs. The fiber is very fine and feels silky, smooth and cool to the touch. Type-A goats usually are shorn twice a year.
- Type B—this fleece is a strong, lustrous fiber that is curly and very soft. A type-B fleece averages 3-6 inches long, and may have two types of guard hairs: an obvious, stiff guard hair and a silky guard hair. It is the uniquely Pygora fleece - very versatile, warm to the touch and soft. Type-B goats usually are shorn twice a year.
- Type C—this fleece is a matte fiber with crimp and a very short staple length (usually 1-3 inches). It has a very obvious coarse guard hair and is warm to the touch. Type C has the finest diameter of the three fleece types and can be as soft as fine cashmere. A type-C coat can be harvested by brushing, plucking or shearing. The yield is quite small, but the effort is worth it. Type-C fleece is unbelievably soft.