Cashmere fibre gains touted

David (pictured) and Robyn Shaw, of Clinton, have spent 35 years breeding goats for super-soft, low-micron cashmere fibre. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
David (pictured) and Robyn Shaw, of Clinton, have spent 35 years breeding goats for super-soft, low-micron cashmere fibre. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Clinton farmers David and Robyn Shaw, of New Zealand Cashmere Ltd, are confident cashmere fibre could provide a lucrative, low input-cost source of extra income for farmers.

They are keen to encourage farmers to consider including in their operations goats bred to yield low-micron cashmere fleece.

They are spending this week talking to farmers in the North Island to raise awareness of the opportunities and educate them on how they can gain better returns from cashmere than from sheep fleece.

Mr Shaw said he also wanted to see the establishment of a new super-premium fibre option for farmers.

''There is a segment of the market looking for luxury, high-quality, long-life, sustainable and value-for-money fibre.''

The couple have a 400ha property near Clinton with about 5000 stock units.

They finish sheep and cattle but about 10% of their stock units are goats, grown for their low-micron cashmere.

Mr Shaw said said his goats produced about 200g to 400g of fleece per shear annually and each fleece was between 12 to 20 microns.

''Hoggets produced about 14 microns, while does do about 16 microns.''

The fleece sold for $100-$150 a kilogram depending on the grade.

He and his wife launched their company a year ago after 35 years of breeding to develop the quality cashmere fibre they now saw in their fleeces.

''I have had an interest in goats since the 1980s,'' Mr Shaw said.

''In that time we have had amazing genetic gains.

''The fibre that some of them have is amazing.''

The couple have built business relationships with yarn manufacturer Woolyarn, and garment manufacturer

Untouched World, of Christchurch, both of which are keen to buy as much cashmere as they can get to fill orders in luxury markets.

He estimated another 25,000 ''cashmere-improved'' goats were needed around the country to enable the companies to meet their orders.

''The demand is there - we just need more goats,'' he said.

''We were at Milan in 2017 at a conference and we walked down one of the boulevards.

''We saw cashmere garments selling for several thousand euros and we started to appreciate the market we needed to target.''

If goats were managed properly, there were few problems.

They kidded at about 150%, ate what other animals did not want, got rid of thistles and other weeds from pasture and could be contained with electric fencing.

While they did have parasite issues, they did not require dagging or crutching or have bearings or fly strike.

''They are very intelligent and learn both good and bad habits quickly and also require training to stay confined.''

The farm will also screen on Country Calendar next month.

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