Trish Notes

Cashmeres in a Mixed Farming Enterprise



Weed Control

Cashmeres have been successfully used to control and assist in the elimination of a wide variety of noxious weeds across Australia; including serrated & poa tussock, scotch broom,gorse, blackberry, briar, saffron, variegated and scotch thistles and a variety of burrs, including Bathurst Burr.

How goats control weeds

Goats help control weeds by:

  • Preventing the weed from flowering and dispersing seed.
  • Preferentially grazing the weed and so placing it at a disadvantage.
  • Ring barking or structurally weakening some shrub species.

Pasture Management

Contrary to popular belief Cashmeres DON'T eat everything; they are quite selective in what they eat. They DO tend to prefer coarser grasses and woody plants. Many of the plants preferred by cashmeres are regarded by farmers as weeds. The green clover, for which cattle and sheep have a grazing preference, is not preferred by cashmeres. As cashmeres would prefer not to eat green clover, they place it at a competitive advantage over other plants in areas where they graze. Thus the selective grazing preferences of Cashmeres can be used in the establishment and management of improved pastures.

No Chemical Residues

Cashmeres are a more environmentally friendly solution to the problem of weed control than the use of chemicals. The use of chemicals in weed control is not only costly, but may also restrict time of turning off livestock to market due to the risk of chemical residue from the use of those costly chemicals

Controlling Mulga Regrowth

In areas where Mulga regrowth is a problem, Cashmeres are an efficient and cost effective solution. Not only will they happily control the regrowth, but they will also thrive while doing so.

Low Cost Production

Unlike many other fleece bearing animals, cashmeres are not prone to fly strike problems. Fly strike preventative measures (jetting, crutching mulesing etc) can be costly both in time and monetary terms. This was demonstrated in a recent benchmarking study undertaken in NSW, by Wesfarmers Landmark Yass, in conjunction with the accounting firm Boyce and Co. The study found that 60% of the costs involved in producing wool, were costs associated with fly strike prevention. Hence cashmeres are way ahead of most sheep breeds when it comes to low maintenance costs, for there is no need to crutch, mules or jet them, nor is there the need for constant surveillance for fly strike victims. Other husbandry practices are similar to those of sheep, with the exception of the vaccination program for clostridial diseases. Where sheep only require a booster every 12 months after the initial vaccinations, goats require a booster every 6 months to maintain an immunity to these diseases.


The Australian Cashmere is a dual-purpose animal, bred to optimize returns from both fibre and meat. It has evolved from the Australian Bush Goat after many generations of selective breeding for these attributes, whilst retaining the hardiness and fertility of its origins.


Cashmere is the finest and softest of the natural fibres available commercially, hence it is widely sought after and attracts high prices (The Schneider Group market indicators - for fine wool and cashmere. ). A number factors are at play presently which favour a very bright future for Australian Cashmere.

  • The first of course is the crisis in the oil industry. With ever increasing shortages and escalating costs of petroleum products in the not too distant future it is no longer going to be possible to produce synthetic fibres economically. Natural fibres will once again be relied upon to supply the textile industry with raw materials.
  • At present most of the world's cashmere is produced in China and Mongolia. As the Chinese become more affluent, more and more of the cashmere produced is consumed within China itself. This is beginning to result in a shortage of cashmere for European markets.
  • Special Attributes of Australian Cashmere

    Processors of cashmere like the Australian fibre as it is free from contamination, unlike cashmere from the traditional cashmere producing regions of the world. Australian cashmere also has a higher tensile strength, which means that it is less likely to break during processing. Elite Australian Cashmere goats grow long cashmere fibre which is suitable for worsted processing and the production of high quality cloths suitable for use by the makers of expensive suits,jackets and coats. Only a very small percentage of the world's total cashmere clip is suitable for worsted processing. Most of the world's cashmere is relatively short fibre and only suitable for woolen processing to be made into jumpers and scarves etc.

    Results of recent research undertaken by Dr Bruce McGregor of the Victorian DPI, demonstrate that Australian cashmere possesses special attributes which could be useful in developing an attractive niche market for its products. Australian cashmere possesses a lustrous appearance, quite unlike the dull and flat appearance of the cashmere from traditional sources. It also feels softer than cashmere of the same micron from the traditional cashmere regions of the world. Australian Cashmere can in fact feel softer than cashmere up to 2 micron finer than itself. As the softness of cashmere is a crucial selling point, the special softness attribute of Australian cashmere is indeed a marketing tool worth exploiting.


Cashmere Connections, the Australian processor of cashmere, buys raw cashmere fleece from producers. Payment is made according to the yield, micron and colour of the cashmere, with bonuses being given for well classed and high yielding clips.

Due to China's dominance in the mass production of textile goods worldwide, many of the large textile manufacturers here in Australia have either folded, or moved their businesses offshore. This has created a market opportunity for Australian Cashmere, for in their place a number of small boutique processors have sprung up and are looking at processing exotic fibres. Several are very interested in processing Australian cashmere and at present trialling cashmere tops, processed by Cashmere Connections, in an effort to produce worsted spun cashmere yarn. Cashmere Connections has also been dehairing quantities of Australian Alpaca fibre for use by Australian processors. Through these contacts, some cashmere top is also going into blends with fine Alpaca. These are just some of the new markets which are presently being developed for Australian cashmere. Unfortunately due to the fact that the Australian cashmere clip is relatively small, care must be taken not to develop markets that can't be satisfied. For all those interested in using Australian Cashmere to be satisfied cashmere production needs to be increased

Meat Markets For Australian Cashmeres

Cashmeres produce a lean meat, which is the type of goat meat preferred by many people who are the traditional consumers of goat meat worldwide. Well finished cashmeres produce excellent carcases. This has been demonstrated by their success in taking off major awards, in the highly competitive hoof and hook competitions at the Royal Sydney and Royal Perth shows in recent years.

Cashmere breeders have a number of choices as to when they sell their male animals into the meat market. Cashmere kids meet the specifications for the domestic Capretto market at 8-12 weeks of age. Those producers not wanting, or not able to run stock on have the option of quitting animals at an early age and receive reasonable returns. Those producers who are able to run stock on can shear animals once or twice before selling them into the domestic or export meat markets. At present, the best returns in a good cashmere herd, are from the sale of 15 month old animals which have been shorn twice before being sold for slaughter.


Cashmere goats are generally very fertile and quite prolific. A mature cashmere buck in good condition prior to joining can serve 100 does .Under top management conditions 200% kidding rates can be achieved. If in good condition at joining, does will produce multiple births, usually twins and sometimes triplets. The does are good and attentive mothers. If nutrition is adequate and predators are kept at bay, the majority of kids will be reared through to weaning. Because cashmeres are so fertile it is important that male kids are either castrated or removed from the flock at about 12 weeks of age. If this is not done, they will start working and there will be unplanned pregnancies amongst the doe portion of the flock.