Cashmere Goat is a type, not a breed
The core of our herd is Cashmere [also know as Spanish] goats, with a few cross breeds that have been brought in over the years. There is no such thing as a “purebred” cashmere goat.
Our goats are indigenous to the Himalayas where the altitude is high and the climate is dry. High dry and cold is their natural environment which is why they do well in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains.
Temperatures above 30° and 30° below zero are no problem to the goats as long as it’s dry. Other cashmere goats—Swedish blood for example—cannot tolerate high heat.
However, high heat or freezing drizzle is potential death to even our goats because there is no oil or lanolin in their hair, so the heat goes right through them and in the freezing rain they could get hypothermia.
My goats are disease free because we live like Gypsies, move freely from city to city to clean grounds every night. Disease is more prevalent when herds stay in one place for extended periods.
Cashmere down growth begins around the longest day of the year and stops around the shortest day. We comb and collect their [cashmere] hair when they naturally shed—which is mid April, if weather cooperates and it’s not endlessly raining.
The key to a successful goat eating weeds business is the rapport that you build with the goats. I give them what they need.
The herd also understands that we all make a living together, and that’s why we do not tolerate bad behavior, and they know that.
My goats do amazing things for me that they won’t do for anyone else. One day on business required that I leave the heard unattended for almost nine hours penned in on the open range.
I returned to find a big winds had swept the area, downing a pole, freeing the goats to roam, but they didn’t. They were just standing there waiting for me to return.
It’s an understanding we have with each other. The core of it is they trust me—they trust that I am not going to sell them for slaughter.
Most people send all neutered males to slaughter when they are a year old. Much like the cow industry, unless it’s a breeding bull, the neutered ones are dead by 18 months. Goats—like cows—too are bred for slaughter.
Not so in my business. My herd is 75% neutered males and the rest females. Billy goats are my main workers. We have goats of all ages in the herd.
The goats, working in a temporarily fenced-in area, can mow down about one acre per day. Goats can reach areas that machines cannot. And they serve other purposes as they graze—tilling the soil, re-seeding and fertilizing.
Generally, we manage breeding and kidding first of June or first of September, which is when weeds are plentiful and feeding is the best. This way we can manage without food supplements.
We only breed about 200 nannies at a time because we’re gypsies and on the move all the time. First time mothers have a single birth. After that they have twins or triplets.
Because we’re gypsies we’re potentially on contract 265 days a year. Babies are born on the job and are raised with the herd. They learn to work with the dogs, the fences, and the people. Work is all they know. They are born in a work environment and that’s all they ever know.
When babies are about three days old they start eating weeds. Exposure to the local flora as adolescents results in goats that thrive on the wide variety of forage species, which they will be expected to consume in their adult lives.
Retired goats are called gummers when get old. Gummer is a goat or sheep that so old that it has lost all of its teeth. Gummers get real thin because they cannot eat.
Having worked in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah, goats are retire to Twin Creek Ranch, where they live a peaceful life until they die. My goats work for about 12 years.