Pashmina, internationally known as “cashmere”, a fine luxury fibre, is being produced from Changthangi goats bred in the Ladakh region of India. The Leh district of Greater Ladakh produces around 30 000 kg of pashmina fibre which is harvested from about 0.15 million Changthangi goats reared by the Changpa nomads in Changthang region of Greater Ladakh. Changthangi goats are sometimes also called Changra goats. Pashmina producing goats are of great importance for revitalising the economy of the poverty stricken region of Changthang and the Leh district of Ladakh. The information on Changthangi goats was collected from both small and large-scale farmers in Ladakh, and 337 animals were included in the study.
The body colour of Changthangi goats varies from white to light brown and nearly whole body is covered with pashmina and long hairs. The average birth weights of male and female kids were estimated as 2.11 ± 0.3 and 2.06 ± 0.2 kg, respectively while weight at 300 days was found to be 20.0 ± 2.1 and 18.7 ± 1.9 kg in male and females respectively.
The pashmina yields of bucks, does, male hoggets and female hoggets were estimated as 402 ± 19 g, 248 ± 14 g, 255 ± 12 and 280 ± 16 g, respectively. The length of pashmina fibre was found to be 4.25 ± 1.2 cm in males and 4.02 ± 1.5 cm in females while fibre diameter in male and female goats was estimated as 12.9 ± 2.6 μ and 13.0 ± 3.0 μ, respectively.
The twining rate was found to be very low, nearly 0.3%. A preliminary study at DNA level with PCR-RFLP indicated monomorphism at the growth hormone gene. The occurrence of disease was quite low although some genetic deformities in this breed were not uncommon.