Goatlightenment: Can You Shave Goats for Their Hair?

Faithful reader and goat lover, the lovely 8-year-old LuccaBella in Italy has written to me to ask:

Can you shave goats hair? Because lambs you can shave hair & you can make clothes & cotton. Can you do that with goats?

This is an *excellent* question, and something I bet many people don’t know about . . . because cashmere (that oh-so-soft, wonderfully warm sweater and sock material) actually comes for goats. The cashmere goat, in fact.

Yes, cashmere wool comes from the soft, fluffy, fine-haired undercoat of these gorgeous goats:

Cashmere Goats by Paul Esson on Flickr

Cashmere Goats by Paul Esson on Flickr

As many of you probably know, cashmere wool products will keep you super warm and cozy throughout the winter, which is exactly why these goats have their coats. Cashmere goats tend to live in cold, often mountainous climates and begin moulting (losing their hair) in the spring as they’ll no longer need that undercoat to keep warm throughout the summer.

And that’s where cashmere producers come in.

The cashmere from goats may be gathered by combing through or shearing the hair. In order to collect what will become cashmere for clothes and other fabrics, the fine hair of the undercoat must be separated from the coarser hair of the outer coating (called guard hair). The guard hair may be used for brushes and other non-clothing items.

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In fact, LuccaBella, you and your Mamma might be interested to learn more about Chianti Cashmere run by American expat Nora Kravis (who has given me great advice on finding goat minerals) — not too far from where you live. Nora offers handwoven products, and her farm prides itself in leaving “no carbon hoofprint” with its Sustainable Cashmere® movement.

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Now, if you’re wondering whether Pasqualina and Pinta produce wool for clothes, the answer is no. They just aren’t that type of goat, and in fact, they both have quite fine hair. Here in Calabria, our dairy goats (like Pasqualina) don’t tend to have very thick hair because they don’t need it as temperatures don’t drop below freezing very often in the winter. That said, some of the other breeds of goats around here do have thicker hair (you may remember Carmelina for instance), but even they are not shaved for wool — they just aren’t that kind of goat either.

Two goats sharing a moment

Carmelina (in front) and Pasqualina sharing a moment in July 2009

Thanks so much for the question — I hope my answer helped clear it up!

By the way, for answers to many goat questions, check out The Maaaaa of Pricilla’s excellent “goatucation” series.

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6 Responses to “Goatlightenment: Can You Shave Goats for Their Hair?”
  1. 11.12.2010

    Michelle, this is AWESOME! You KNOW I will show this to LuccaBella after scherma today & then NEXT will be, “Mamma, that’s the kind I want”! Leave it to YOU to have ALL the answers! Your Kids are VERY lucky 😉 That photo of Carmelina & Pasqualina is TOO cute!

    Thanks Maria! This was a fun post to write — and great to dig up a photo of my sweet Carmelina :)

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  2. 11.12.2010

    Your girl’s are just so darn cute! They do share the same face as the Cashmere..which are beautiful too! All so REGAL! Great post Michelle! Hugs!

    Yes, Pasqualina especially has that face…I really wonder where she came from 😉 xx

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  3. 11.12.2010

    Dear Michelle, I love goat and lambs because they are both soft and cuddly :)

    I agree with you LuccaBella — especially when they’re little :) And thanks again for your question!

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  4. 11.13.2010

    Ciao! Aww so precious. Very interesting, I learned something new today. I had no idea that is where cashmere came from. Thanks for sharing.

    Glad you enjoyed Alessandra!

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  5. 11.13.2010

    I so need a cashmere goat now. But that would require a bigger backyard. Guess I’ll have to stick with my cute dairy goats :) Thanks for the question Lucca (one of my favorite names, btw)!

    They are pretty darn cute, aren’t they?!

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  6. 11.16.2010

    So very interesting. I’m going to see if the human will get me a cashmere coat. I’d look very good in that long fluffy fur.

    Not a baaaaad idea, Millie 😉

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