Cashmere Goat Association

Cashmere Goat Research Study

The GWAS (genome-wide association study) being undertaken by Dr. Megan Rolf of Kansas State University and Roger Merkel and Terry Gipson from Langston University presents an exciting opportunity for anyone with cashmere goats. The details of the study are intimidatingly technical, but the bottom line is that we can support the scientists as they work to discover the genes behind quality cashmere. And in the process, we can get fleece samples tested by Texas A & M’s laboratory for free! 

The research team will be using genetic analysis done by Neogen Genomics in Lincoln, NE and fiber testing results from Texas A & M’s fiber testing lab. They hope to discover correlations between desirable scores on phenotypical characteristics (like fiber diameter) and genomic combinations. Once the research establishes the genetic markers that are associated with fine fiber diameter, long staple length, curvature (style), and other fiber characteristics, cashmere goat owners will be able to do genetic testing and breed for genes that are likely to produce the finest quality cashmere. 

To glean the short-term and long-term benefits, all cashmere goat owners in the U.S. need to take advantage of this opportunity, starting with this year’s combing and shearing season. The researchers are making it easy for us by collecting both the fiber samples and the DNA samples from us and delivering them to the labs in Nebraska and Texas for us.  If you have already sent your 2022 fiber away, you can still make some progress by sending in just the DNA samples.   Just make sure you mail the hairs soon after plucking them so that they do not degrade.   Then make plans to collect cashmere samples in 2023!

Here’s what we need to do

 1. Clip a 2” x 2” fiber sample from the mid-side of each goat. You may use animal clippers or ones sold for human hair trimming. Use a 30 blade or similar so that you do not lose length in the clip. 

 2. Package the sample in a sandwich bag, preserving its structure, and including a label with the goat ID. 

 3. Pluck a ~20 guard hairs from the goat, making sure to get the follicle at the base of the hair, for a DNA sample. Place them in a paper towel. 

 4. Package the guard hairs in another small bag. 

 5. Fill out the sample submission and pedigree forms provided below.

 6. Box it up and mail it to: 

    Dr. Roger Merkel 
    American Institute for Goat Research 
    Langston University 
    Room 238 
    EL Holloway Agriculture Building 
    Langston, OK 73050 

 If you have questions, contact Dr. Merkel via phone or email 405-466-6134 

That’s it! The grant acquired for this study will cover the cost of the testing at both the fiber lab and the genetics lab. We only need to pay for the shipping of our samples. 

Detailed videos on how to collect samples can be found here: 

  Types of clippers to use for fiber collection:

  How to clip and pluck samples for the study: Clipping and Plucking - YouTube 

  How to measure Fiber Length: Measuring Fiber Length - YouTube 

  How to label and pack your samples: Labeling and Packaging Samples - YouTube (we have no clue why this has a warning on YouTube. There is nothing inappropriate about the video)      

Recorded webinar with Q&A:

And here are the forms that must be included with your samples: 

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