About Alpacas and Alpaca Fibre

Alpacas are wonderfully intelligent, curious, adaptable and eco-friendly animals. They originated from the Altiplano in Peru and were bred by the Incas for their luxuriant, silky fleeces. Fleece which Incas hailed was ‘Fibre of the Gods’

Alpacas live approximately 15 to 20 years, grow to about 1 metre in height and weigh up to 70 kilograms. They begin their life as crias and grow into Hembras (females) or Machos (male). Alpaca females, mature at 12-14 months of age, are inducing ovulations. The female animals normally have a gestation period of 335 days and normally give birth during the daylight hours. Birthing is generally trouble free and very quick, with cria able to stand and nurse within an hour.

Alpacas have soft padded feet, not hovers, thereby minimising degradation to the land. They are gentle browsers, allowing for faster pasture regrowth compared to sheep and cattle. They do not suffer from flystrike or footrot. Stocking rates are at least two alpacas to one sheep. Alpacas are pseudo-ruminants and do well on low protein pasture.

About Alpacas fibres

Alpaca fleece is the natural fibre harvested from an alpaca. It is light or heavy in weight, depending on how it is spun. It is a soft, durable, luxurious and silky natural fibre. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and difficult to ignite. Huacaya, an alpaca that grows soft spongy fibre, has natural crimp, thus making a naturally elastic yarn well-suited for knitting.

The Alpaca fibre is more like hair than wool. It is finer than cashmere and equal or superior in warmth to Gortex . It does not retain water, is thermal even when wet, and can resist solar radiation effectively. These characteristics guarantee the animals a permanent and appropriate coat to protect against extreme changes of temperature. This fibre offers the same protection to humans. And unlike sheep’s wool, harsh toxic chemicals are not needed to process alpaca as it contains no lanolin oils. It is 100% natural and good for the environment.

The fibre comes in 22 natural colours (White, off-white, shades of grey, fawn, silver, champagne, red brown, deep chocolate brown and jet black). Although the fibre can be dyed, the use of the natural colours means an absence of dye products and minimal exposure to allergens, for even the most sensitive of wearers.

Other advantages of the alpaca fibre are:

  • Is warmer, stronger and lighter than sheep wool
  • Has less prickle factor than most other fibered animals
  • Preserves natural heat and has excellent isolative or thermal qualities
  • Is 30% warmer than the same weight of Merino wool
  • Is 4 times more abrasion resistant than Merino wool
  • Has no lanolin and contains no grease or oil
  • It is also considered hypoallergenic
  • Naturally repels water – does not retain water and can resist solar radiation
  • Does not shrink when washed
  • Is difficult to ignite
  • Can be carded and blended with other natural fibres

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