Section 3.7: Section Summary

Alpaca are renowned for producing the world’s most sustainable luxury fiber. Alpaca Fiber can be eco-friendly, softer than cashmere, and warm as polar bear fleece.

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Section Summary & Conclusions: 

We must breed to a goal, to a direction. As we move toward this goal we will learn, we will adjust, we will improve our fiber and our end product profits.

There is little doubt that quantitative objective tools are critical to our success. Histograms, skin biopsies and evolving EPDs can and do help us improve our alpaca fiber and help us evaluate the results of our breeding programs.

A. The questions we should be asking:

‘How do I select a herdsire to breed to my dams?’ should be preceded by questions like, “What are my specific fiber goals?’ and ‘What do my dams need by way of improvement?’ If your dams are fine, but not dense, perhaps breeding to a dense male is the right choice. If your dams are fine and dense but not uniform, perhaps breeding to a herdsire with a high S/P ration is the answer.

B. Breeding for Alpaca Fiber Farming:

  1. From what we've learned, it is clear that we need to breed for uniformity - fineness across both primary and secondary fiber populations which we believe will lead to reduced medullation in both populations and high fleece weight. Breed for an S/P ration of 15/1 or greater (but for uniform clusters in fiber number and cluster size).
  2. As an alpaca fiber farmer, breeding for alpacas that average 25 microns or below and maintains this average into maturity will find commercially viable and lucrative textile markets.
  3. As an alpaca fiber farmer, breeding for increased density, as more (quality) fiber on an alpaca increases the breeder’s profitability. Breed for density of 60 follicles/ sq mm or better.
  4. As an alpaca fiber farmer, breeding for increased uniformity (length, grade, color & character) and staple length will improve the quality and quantity of your product.
  5. To do this, it is important to track regular progress – measure, monitor, analyze. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

The above should come as no surprise to experienced alpaca breeders. Uniformity of fineness, fiber length, color on a robust and healthy alpaca will help us thrive as opposed to only survive in our highly competitive and diverse Alpaca Fiber Farming marketplaces.

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