|Indigenous technology knowledge for watershed management in upper north-west Himalayas of India (1998)|
|Chapter 4 - Livestock and fodder management|
Pashmina goat rearing is specific to Ladakh and the north-west upper Himalayas. These animals are large usually and hardy with white fleece though grey and brown animals are not uncommon. They are generally used as pack animals (Fig. 4.1). The body of these goats is covered with silky hair about 10-12 cm long, beneath which is a fur like under-coat of great fineness (fibre diameter is about 14 microns) and warmth, called Pashmina, which is used to make famous Kashmir Shawls. The average yield of pashmina is around 200-400 g per animal per year.
In the temperate Himalayan Zone, flocks of pashmina goats (100-500) are taken up to the alpine pastures with sheep. Goats and sheep are generally grazed together and they move to alpine pastures in April and start their descent in September and are camped in valleys from November till their return to alpine pastures. Good pasture runs in deep gorges and severely cold nallahas in the higher reaches are specifically used for grazing pashmina goats. This comparative advantage embodies significant economic potential. The goats need cellulose which they obtain form grass, hay, silage, straw or leaves and cereal mixtures provide the mineral and vitamin supplement. The per unit requirement of protein and carbohydrates for metabolism in goats is higher than in cows. The goats commonly consume 6-10 per cent of the body weight in dry matter compared with 2.5-3.0 per cent for cattle and sheep. Most pastures in the higher reaches are of temperate alpine type. The selection of deep gorges and nallahs near glacial points by goats is specifically due to the availability of more nutritious material for grazing and browsing thereby ensuring pashmina production of good quality and quantity.
Although it supports a major cottage industry in the Kashmir valley, little is known about this goat. Information with regard to available genetic variability in this species is limited.