Fiber Goats

The Fiber Goat industry has been in existence in the United States for over a hundred years. Natural fiber was the first available material for clothing and the cashmere and mohair were luxury fibers used for the finest of clothing and other items. The fiber industry has struggled in recent years and numbers have been lost as many producers switched to other breeds of goats in order to survive. Today, these fibers are still in demand, but at reduced levels and efforts are being made to grow the industry.
Visit the CASHMERE GOAT ASSOCIATION for more information about Cashmere goats and their breed standards.

Angora Goats

Angora goats originated in the district of Angora in Asia Minor. The Angora dates back prior to early biblical history. The Angora is a very picturesque animal in which both sexes are horned. The ears are heavy and drooping. The Angora goat is a small animal as compared to sheep, common goats or milk goats. The most valuable characteristic of the Angora goat as compared to other goats is the value of the mohair that is clipped. The average goat in the U.S. shears approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing and is usually sheared twice a year. The Angora goat is a browsing animal, which has made it very adaptable to certain agriculture sections. They have often been able to provide economic returns to land that is unsuitable for usual agriculture pursuits.
[picture from the AGF archives]


Cashmere Goats

Feral goats from Australia and Spanish meat goats from the American Southwest, selected for fiber traits, form the basis of the American cashmere goat industry. Any goat can grow cashmere, but those we call “cashmere goats” have been selectively bred to produce it in significant amounts. The goats’ down and the guard hair which surrounds it may be any color, but the combable or shearable parts of the body (excluding face, stockings and belly) should be of a single color. The guard hair may be long or short depending on individual situations and preferences, but the guard hair should be coarse enough that a mechanical dehairer can easily distinguish it from cashmere. Traditionally, cashmere goats are not de-horned. Both male and female goats have horns.

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.

[pictures provided by the Cashmere Goat Association. ]


Pygora Goats

Pygoras® are fleece-producing goats, derived from Angora and Pygmy heritage [American Angora Goat Breeders Association (AAGBA)/National Pygmy Goat Association (NPGA)]. First cross progeny are listed in the herd book as first generation (F1), with second generation animals that meet all other breed standard characteristics listed as registered Pygoras. A registered Pygora may not to exceed 75% of either hertiage breed (Pygmy or Angora).

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.

[Pictures are provided by the Pygora Breeders Association (PBA)]