The primary function of the Alpaca is Fleece Production.
These amazing animals produce one of the most luxurious and valuable fibres that exists today. It is its unique combination of softness, strength and the variety of colours that puts Alpaca fleece ahead of all other luxury fibres.
Alpaca Fleece is often called the Fibre of the Gods. Alpaca Fleece is lighter and softer than even Merino Wool and comes in 22 natural colours. This is one of the worlds highest quality natural fibres, known for its fineness, lustre, being lightweight, and its excellent insulating quality.
There is already a strong international market for top quality fleece and with the New Zealand domestic market still being supplied by imported fleece there is plenty of scope for this new product. The strong international market for this wonderful fleece has led to a world-wide demand for Alpaca Breeding Stock.
Alpaca Fleece is the strongest natural fibre in the world with the exception of Mohair. As Alpaca fleece becomes finer (lower micron) this strength quality does not reduce - which makes the Alpaca Fleece a very sought after product. Alpacas are the only animal in the world that come naturally in a range of 22 standard colours and there are also a few variations on these. Due to the unique silky feel and superb handle, this fleece is sought after by the textile makers of Britain, Europe and Japan.
Our mission... The long term aim of our Breeding Programme is to produce consistent animals that will have a fleece that contains no guard hair, on an animal with an excellent conformation and that will shear greater than Ten kilograms of fleece per year at a micron count of below 15 and the fleece to have excellent Handle, Lustre and Crimp.
There is no need to dye Alpaca Fibre due to the colour range available, with internationally recognised colours including Black, Grey, Brown, Fawn, Rose Grey, Red, Apricot and White. Although there are 22 basic colours but, 95% of the world population is white. The fact that only 5% of Alpacas are coloured in the world helps to contribute to their value.
Products made from Alpaca fleece are very comfortable to wear due to their softness and their lack of prickle that sheep wool usually has.
Key Fibre Characteristics
A very important characteristic of Alpaca Fleece is the "Handle" or the "Feel". The very pleasurable softness felt when you put this fleece next to your skin can be attributed to a number of factors:
1. Fineness of the actual fibres. A low micron figure will make the fibre feel luxurious and silky.
2. Scale frequency and the structure of individual fibres.
3. Crimp - which measures the natural waviness of the fleece. Sheep wool has traditionally more crimp than Alpaca Fibre. Having more Crimp does not necessarily mean a softer feel.
4. Lustre, this is when the fleece seems to shine or reflect light. A fleece that has lots of lustre usually feels softer to the touch.
At Thief of Hearts Alpaca Stud, we stress Conformation, Fineness, Crimp and Colour in our Breeding Program.
The above picture shows the advanced fleece structure we are now achieving in our Cria.