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Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Effect of a cashmere breeding program on fibre length traits

H. Redden A C , D. Robson B and S. M. Rhind A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, UK.

B Heriot-Watt University, School of Textiles, Scottish Borders Campus, Galashiels, TD1 3HF, UK.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 56(8) 781-787
Submitted: 22 June 2004  Accepted: 7 June 2005   Published: 25 August 2005


Two cashmere goat breed lines were selected, over a 5-year period, for increased mean cashmere weight (Value line; V) or reduced mean cashmere diameter (Fine line; F) and were compared with a group bred randomly (Control; C). The mean staple length of V animals increased from 42.2 to 52.0 mm (P < 0.001) between Years 1 and 5 and by Year 5 it was longer than that of F (43.9; P < 0.001) and C animals (45.2; P < 0.05). Between Years 1 and 5, the mean maximum drawn length of the V and F cashmere increased, from 50.9 to 63.1 mm (P < 0.001) and from 45.0 to 52.8 mm (P < 0.001), respectively. The mean minimum length for the V line increased from 32.5 to 49.6 mm (P < 0.001). This was attributable to an increase in cashmere length in both males (P < 0.001) and females (P < 0.001). The mean minimum length for the F line increased (P < 0.001) primarily because of an increase in the mean minimum cashmere length of the females (P < 0.05). It is concluded that although the selection program resulted in an increase in cashmere production in the V line and no reduction in the F line animals, the associated increase in length and/or the changes in the relative length of the cashmere and guard hairs were likely to result in a reduction in fleece quality and value, particularly in the V animals.

Additional keywords: cashmere, fibres, breeding, quality, goats, length.


This work was funded by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department.

We thank Dr Margaret Merchant for discussions and access to unpublished data, Gavin Rogerson for managing the goats, Audrey Stephen, Brenda Copland, and David Riach for assistance with sample processing, and the staff at Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland for advice on data analysis. We also thank Mr A. Anderson, Mr J. Boyd, Mr D. Mallin, Mr G. Pogson, Mr R. Lamb, Mr P. Johnston, Ms J. Smith and Mr J. Sugden for their professional advice on cashmere quality attributes and the buying preferences of the commercial cashmere textile industry.


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