I’ve just sent 4 cashmere fleeces off to the Eastern Cashmere Association Cashmere Goat Show. The show is in Richmond, VA the end of September. It is an interesting event. The fleeces are submitted in 2 gallon ziploc bags. When they are judged, they are taken out of the bag and the judge examines the fleece for the characteristics listed below.
As you read this consider that in order to be considered cashmere, the goat’s down has to be less than 18.5 microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter. It is really small so the judge has to have an exceptionally well-trained eye to judge cashmere. That is also why cashmere is so soft. Wool is itchy because the fibers are thicker, and consequently stiffer, so they jag the skin. Cashmere is so fine that it bends rather than jag.
Cashmere fleeces are judged on:
Fiber diameter is defined as Mean Fiber Diameter (MFD). Fiber must be fine, with a histogram MFD of 18.5 microns or less.
Style is defined as the crimp or curvature of the individual fibers, and is represented on the histogram as deg/mm (degrees of circular arc per mm). Individual fibers should exhibit three dimensional, irregular crimp along their entire length. Mean style measurements on the histogram should be no less than 45 deg/mm.
Fiber length is measured in its relaxed (crimpy) state, and must be no less than 1.25 inches (32 mm).
Fiber diameter should exhibit minimal variation in a given sample or “swatch,” and transitional fibers should not be present. Uniformity is represented on the histogram as Coefficient of Variation (CV) and must be no greater than 24%.
Guard hair should be coarse enough to be easily differentiated from down fibers.
Total Down Weight (TDW)
The total amount of cashmere down that is obtained from the fleece of a single goat. Represented as Total Down Weight (TDW), it is measured after cleaning and processing, and should be no less than 2 ounces (60 grams).
For the complete North American Cashmere Goat Breed Standard, visit