Annual Management Programme For Cashmeres
Cashmere goats are usually joined in the autumn to kid in the spring. Bucks should be used at 2%. The kidding month needs to be chosen to suit local conditions.
Before joining, the doe's condition is boosted by herd rotation to fresh paddocks to boost fertility, or a grain supplement is given. This boost in nutrition can improve the kidding percentage by increasing doe ovulation rates.
Do not shear until your cashmere is 35mm or over, but it is very important to have your pregnant does shorn (and vaccinated) before they kid. Stress can have an effect on the time of shedding, and kidding invariably causes this. Shearing can be done by the conventional sheep method, or with the animal standing with its head restrained in a bail, refer to "Shearing Goats. The Go-down Technique".
It is important that white goats are separated from the coloured goats, and are shorn first to prevent contamination of the white fibre.
Does should again be brought onto a rising plane of nutrition six weeks prior to kidding and continued until six weeks after kidding. This flushing of does is crucial to the final birthweight and condition of the kids, as well as contributing to maximum secondary follicle development in the kids.
Well planned doe nutrition ensures birthweights of doe kids at about 2.7 kg and about 3 kg for bucks which are necessary for kid survival, especially from cold stress.
The kidding process is covered in detail in other goat notes. It is important to set aside in advance, paddocks for kidding. These should be well sheltered in an area least likely to be troubled by predators. Sufficient paddock feed should be available that hand feeding can be avoided over the kidding period as this often causes substantial disruption and mismothering.
Spelling the paddock well before use, will also help greatly with worm control in the does and kids. Under most conditions a pre-kidding drench is advisable combined with a booster vaccination against clostridial diseases.
Most cashmere breeding programmes will require individual animal identification. This enables cross referencing a kid with its mother. This is best done quietly in the paddock within a few hours of birth. As many does plant their kids, the optimum time of day to identify dam with offspring is just after sunrise, before the does move off to graze for the day.
Various ear tag designs are available, the most useful are those that can be seen from a distance.
An alternative to paddock tagging is to bring animals into the yards in small groups and mother-up each kid. This requires considerable patience and is time-consuming. In addition, it is not as reliable as tagging at birth.
Kids should be marked before three months of age, but the earlier it is done, the better the kids will grow out. Males can be castrated using a knife or rings. Lamb Marking cradles are useful, but not essential. Good hygiene should be observed especially if normal handling facilities are used. Preliminary selection of potential sires may be done at this time.
The kids are weaned at about four months old, and at this stage they should have had their first vaccination (at six weeks), and their second vaccination and first drench (at three months). The kids should be weaned onto good feed, out of earshot from their dams. Maiden does can be joined at seven months, but most are left until they are eighteen months old. Bucks reach sexual maturity from four to six months of age. Selection of bucks for breeding is best left until their first and second annual fleece tests are available.
Testing is covered in detail in Goat Notes "Sampling the Fleece for Testing" and "Measurement of Yield and Fibre Diameter". It is very important to test at least the top does and all bucks. It is also very important to record the age at which the animal was tested as most cashmere fleeces broaden with age (on average 1.25 micron in the first year and 0.5 micron per year thereafter).
Classing and Culling
Classing decisions may be made prior to shearing while does are in full fleece, by separating the visually coloured goats from the white. Cull does may be sold off-shears or at a later date, such as after weaning.
Goats appear to be at least as susceptible to foot abscess, scald and footrot as sheep. They do not like constantly wet conditions and appreciate at least a dry camp in their paddocks. In these conditions, it is good management practice to release goats through a formalin footbath each time they are handled.
Footrot is a notifiable disease. If footrot is suspected, all feet should be pared and infected claws should be sprayed with a Gentian Violet based product after the animal has been thoroughly foot bathed in formalin or zinc sulphate. The infected animals should be isolated and the clean animals should only be run in clean paddocks.
The use of footrot vaccine at the same dose rates as for sheep has proved effective, but little research work on the use of the vaccine with goats has been done.
© 2000 ACGA