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Section 2: Alpaca Fiber Evaluation – The Objective & Subjective
The alpaca is classified as a two-coated animal. The coverage over its entire body consists of two different types of fiber, each having a specific purpose. By way of comparison, consider ducks or geese, which have rugged outer feathers, with a finer layer underneath. We call this finer layer ”down.” Down helps insulate the birds from cold water and air, and is used in the manufacture of warm down blankets, jackets, and the like. The same concept applies to alpacas. The rugged outer fibers are called primary fibers, while the softer inner fibers are known as secondary fibers. When we hear the term alpaca down, think soft, insulating fibers. When you have a fleece with an average fiber diameter (AFD)of 16 microns and a standard deviation (SD) of 3, the fleece is very uniform and it is not possible to isolate the primaries from the secondaries. At this micron level and below, all fibers are considered to be down.