Deakin University

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Nutrition, management and other environmental influences on the quality and production of mohair and cashmere with particular reference to mediterranean and annual temperate climatic zones : a review

journal contribution
posted on 1998-01-01, 00:00 authored by Bruce McGregor
Goat fibre production is affected by genetic and environmental influences. Environmental influences which are the subject of this review include bio–geophysical factors (photoperiod, climate–herbage system and soil–plant trace nutrient composition), nutrition factors and management factors. Nutrition and management influences discussed include rate of stocking, supplementary feeding of energy and protein, liveweight change, parturition and management during shearing. While experimental data suggest affects of seasonal photoperiod on the growth of mohair and cashmere are large, these results may have confounded changes in temperature with photoperiod. The nutritional variation within and among years is the most important climatic factor influencing mohair and cashmere production and quality. Mohair quality and growth is affected significantly by rate of stocking and during periods of liveweight loss by supplementary feeding of either energy or protein. Strategic use of supplements, methods for rapid introduction of cereal grains, influence of dietary roughage on intake and the economics of supplementary feeding are discussed. Cashmere production of young, low producing goats does not appear to be affected by energy supplementation, but large responses to energy supplementation have been measured in more productive cashmere goat strains. The designs of these cashmere nutrition experiments are reviewed. Evidence for the hypothesis that energy-deprived cashmere goats divert nutrients preferentially to cashmere growth is reviewed. The influence and potential use of liveweight manipulation in affecting mohair and cashmere production and quality are described. Estimates of the energy requirements for the maintenance of fibre goats and the effect of pregnancy and lactation on mohair and cashmere growth are summarised. The effects and importance of management and hygiene during fibre harvesting (shearing) in producing quality fibre is emphasised. The review concludes that it is important to assess the results of scientific experiments for the total environmental content within which they were conducted. The review supports the view that scientific experiments should use control treatments appropriate to the environment under study as well as having controls relevant for other environments. In mediterranean and annual temperate environments, appropriate controls are liveweight loss and liveweight maintenance treatments. Mohair producers must graze goats at moderate rates of stocking to maximise animal welfare, but in so doing, they will produce heavier goats and coarser mohair. In mediterranean and annual temperate environments, seasonal changes in liveweight are large and influence both quality and production of mohair and cashmere. Mohair and cashmere producers can manipulate liveweight by supplementary feeding energy during dry seasons to minimise liveweight loss, but the economics of such feeding needs to be carefully examined. Strategic benefits can be obtained by enhancing the growth of young does prior to mating and for higher producing cashmere goats.



Small ruminant research






199 - 215




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal