Alpaca Fibre Analysis and how it relates to my breeding programme
All my fleeces have now been skirted; this is when all the rough edges and second cuts are removed, debris is taken out and the remainder is weighed. I usually bag colours and staple lengths together so that it is easy for the mill to process when making our yarn. The best quality fibre comes from the blanket (or saddle) of each alpaca and I send off small sections to be analysed. This was sent off yesterday and as well as being a useful tool for yarn making, it’s really interesting to see how the fleece changes over the life of an alpaca.
A good example of this is Dusty. She was a champion twelve years ago and her fleece had exceptional length, density and fineness. Each year, the fleece gets shorter and the micron gets higher. Now, it only grows about 6 cm long and although still dense, is over 25 microns and therefore too coarse for our yarn. This happens with all alpacas, so understanding how long the fleece is usable and what yield is gained from each alpaca is important when considering my breeding programme.
This year, I need to find another outstanding white stud male to mate with all the offspring of Bollinger; those white alpaca females whose names start with ‘L’ and ‘M’. To find a good match, I will meet the potential sperm donor and ask his owner for the fibre stats and analysis as this is integral to my decision making. So much information can be gleaned including the health of the alpaca over the past year.