The Alpaca are not bred for its meat but for Fibre production. Alpacas like to feed on fresh pastures and are accustomed to grazing in damp areas and to eating various different foods.
There are two kinds of Alpacas – the Huacaya and the Suri. While their body types are identical, they appear distinctly different because of the unique Fibres that each produce.
The Fibres from the Huacaya Alpaca are dense, crimpy, and wool-like, while the Fibres from the Suri Alpaca are straight, lustrous and hang in a “dread-lock” fashion. Depending on the processing method, either type of Fibres can be used for Worsted or Woolen Products. Since their Fibres grow continuously, Alpacas are usually shorn once a year in the spring.
Alpaca Fibres are among the softest of all Natural Fibres originating from animals. Alpaca Fibres are seven times warmer and three times stronger than Sheep’s Wool and do not have a “scratchy feel” like other Animal Fibres. These Fibres are sought after by Fibre Artists for: spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, lock hooking and many other Fibre Art applications.
These Fibres used alone or blended with other Fibres, such as Cashmere, Mohair, Silk, Wool or Cotton, result in Garment Products that have a more luxurious and pleasurable feel both to the eye and the touch in the World of Haute Couture pleasing the most demanding Customers tastes.
Alpaca Fibres come in lengths of 3 to 6 inches, depending on the shearing method. The micron count ranges from 19 to 35, with the first clip from Crias (baby animals) being prized for their fineness. Fleece weights range from 3 pounds for Crias to 10 pounds for mature animals. Alpaca are easier and less expensive to process than Sheep’s Wool due to its lack of lanolin. It produces a higher yield of clean Fibres after processing – 87 to 95 percent versus 43 to 76 percent for Wool.
In summary, Alpaca Fibres have a natural, rich luster, with a silky feel. These Fibres have a superior blending and dying capability, as well as having higher shrink- resistance than Wool.