Increasing Cashmere Production with Improved Nutrition
Cashmere goats which produced 155g of cashmere at 12 months of age were subjected to a range of nutritional treatments between December and June (15 to 22 months of age).
The treatments were
Some goats fed M were also provided with extra protein. These rations were also tested with sheep. Body condition scores were measured on all goats.
Goats fed to 0.8M lost 26g/d from December until April and then when well fed grew 93g/d. This indicated that goats can grow quickly in late autumn and winter and indicates that limited food intake or quality are the cause of poor liveweight gain of some goats in the field. Goats fed to gain liveweight grew up to 42 kg liveweight by June.
Goats fed >M grew 51% more cashmere than goats fed 0.8M (See Table 1). These goats also grew more hair than goats fed 0.8M. (One treatment in >M grew 67% more cashmere than goats fed 0.8M). While cashmere yields of whole fleece samples were generally similar (mean 45%) goats fed to grow the fastest had significantly lower cashmere yields (34%) and grew significantly more hair (323g) than the other treatments.
Goats fed >M had cashmere which was 1.02 um coarser than goats fed 0.8M and 0.76 um coarser than goats fed M.
The Influence of energy intake on cashmere and hair growth and cashmere fibre diameter of wether goats.
Within observations treatments with different superscripts are significantly different at P<0.05. In many cases treatment differences had greater significance.
Additional protein did not increase cashmere production but when these diets were fed to sheep they increased wool production by 40%.
During the experiment midside fleece samples were taken every 4 weeks and separated by hand to determine cashmere yield (Fig.1).
Effect of energy Intake on midside patch cashmere yield of wether goats sampled every 28 days and fed to lose liveweight until April and then grow (O.8M, *), maintain liveweight (all M treatments,) or fed to gain liveweight (1 .25M, ;1 .5M, ;ADLIB,).
The influence of energy intake on total cashmere and hair growth and on midside patch growth suggests that energy supply affects the partitioning of nutrients between cashmere and hair growth. Energy deprived goats grow less cashmere but in doing so divert nutrients preferentially to cashmere growth while goats fed to gain liveweight grew more cashmere but had reduced midside cashmere yields. Feeding very well during mid summer significantly affected the partition of nutrients away from cashmere growth towards hair growth. Obviously once a cashmere goat reaches its maximum potential for cashmere growth nutrients for fibre growth can only be utilized for additional hair growth.
Perhaps feeding to provide rapid liveweight gain during summer provided physiological and hormonal conditions normally only occurring during rapid liveweight gain in spring, the season when cashmere growth rate is low or zero and when goats normally grow only hair. Goats fed to grow moderately had aspects of their fleece growth which responded in a manner similar to that of goats fed at M rather than that of goats fed to grow quickly. Moderate liveweight growth rates in summer appear to provide benefits in cashmere growth without the decline in cashmere yield associated with rapid liveweight gains.
CONCLUSION FROM EXPERIMENT
The results indicate that to maximise cashmere growth goats should have small liveweight gains (1 to 2 kg) and maintain body condition over summer.
Energy nutrition does influence cashmere fibre growth and fibre diameter. In many regions of Australia supplementary energy will be required during summer to prevent cashmere goats from losing liveweight on dry summer pastures. However the experiment also indicates that if goats are fed to grow too quickly over summer cashmere yields may be depressed. Cashmere fibre diameter is also likely to increase and this may make feeding uneconomic.
WHEN SHOULD CASHMERE GOATS BE SUPPLEMENTARY FED?
There are five important issues which will affect your decision about supplementary feeding cashmere goats.
From a large cashmere flock all the goats which produced cashmere with fibre diameter over 16.5 um were run in one mob. They were of mixed colours and produced 130g cashmere at 16.7 um. Feeding of cereal grain (200g/goat/day) was required from December 1 to April 1 (120 days). The grain cost $1 50/tonne delivered. These goats produced 190g of cashmere at 17.7 um after feeding.
If production went from 150g to 230g and only 113 days of feeding was required gross returns would be $425 per goat (30%). However if 300g of cereal was required per day returns would only be I 7%.
If production went from 80 to 120g but 120 days of feeding was required, gross returns would be 23 cents/goat.
Research referred to in this paper was funded by the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and Kinross Cashmere Company.
McGregor, B.A. (1988) Effects of different nutritional regimens on the productivity of Australian Cashmere goats and the partitioning of nutrients between cashmere and hair growth. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 28:459
McGregor, B.A. (1989) Nutrition management to maximise cashmere production. Proceedings 3rd International Cashmere Conference, Adelaide, Australian Cashmere Growers Association.
© 1989 A.C.G.A.