It’s the time goats look forward to the most. The time that comes only once a year in spring. And no - it’s not what you think…
It’s the annual hand-combing ritual of goats.
Contrary to popular belief, Mongolian herders lavish love and care on their goats when it comes to collecting cashmere. Therefore, the words “Mongolian Cashmere” is used almost synonymous with our brand name, serving as a loud and proud statement for the level of care we give to our best friend the GOAT.
Treating Goats with Love and Care
Here at Gobi Cashmere, we work with modern-day nomadic herders from Mongolia.
Not to be confused with Inner Mongolia (which is actually part of China), Mongolia is an independent country.
"To visit Mongolia is to have the rare chance of seeing a nomadic society in action. The traveler to Mongolia must re-adjust her or his expectations to see what is distinctive about the culture and geography and not to expect what isn’t there. Unlike other countries where you travel to see museums or landmarks, Mongolia is a country where you go to see the scenery and the people and experience the beautiful unspoiled countryside." (HuffPost)
In that “unspoiled countryside,” modern-day nomadic herders tend to herds of sheep, goats, camels, yaks and horses just as their ancestors have for more than a millennia.
Mongolian herders show love and care for their animals in a number of ways.
Traditional Hand Combing
This method<, unique to Mongolia, allows hair to be removed without using shears. In addition to being safe and gentle, this technique leaves the goat with a layer of hair, meaning they will retain protection from the elements. Though the traditional long-toothed combs might look scary to the untrained eye, they are perfectly designed to remove only the ready-to-shed undercoat fibers without digging deeply into the skin.
The true beauty of this system is that it was designed to imitate what goats would do naturally.
For centuries, Mongolians observed goats rubbing against trees, allowing the rough bark to remove the cashmere fibers they wanted to shed. Especially moving into the spring and summer months, goats need to shed excess hair so that they don’t overheat (not to mention the extra hair providing a breeding ground for pests). Without an appropriate amount of seasonal shedding, goats will even have a difficult time reaching down to eat grass.
In addition to helping goats keep themselves free of excess hair, the intimate connection of hand-combing also allows herders to better monitor the health and condition of each goat.
For these reasons, goats actually benefit from hand-combing.
Best of all, they don’t feel any pain. On the contrary: hand-combing feels like getting a nice massage!
As a nomadic people, Mongolian herders move at least twenty times a year.
Chasing seasonal changes, they shift location according to weather patterns.
In summer, they seek out green summer pastures, feeding their flock well before the arrival of winter.
During winters in Mongolia, temperatures can actually fall to -40oC! During these scary drops, herders don’t leave their flock outside to suffer. Certainly not! In the cruelest stretches of the season, they relocate their flock to the safest place of all: indoors.
Yes, during winter, Mongolian herders actually bring in the baby goats into their own homes to keep them from freezing. In that respect, they treat them like family.
They even bottle-feed baby goats whose mothers aren’t producing enough milk!
It’s no accident that we offer a completely cruelty-free cashmere collection.
It’s the core of who we are, and we’re happy to participate in this proud and ancient tradition.
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