Alpaca fibre, sometimes referred to as “the fibre of the Inca Gods” is rare and considered one of the finest animal fibres on the planet. Not only does it have a longer staple than cashmere, and therefore far less susceptible to ‘pilling’, but top quality baby or royal baby alpaca fibre is as fine as cashmere and up to five times stronger than sheep’s wool. Alpaca is a natural sustainable fibre. The medulated, or partly hollow, structure of alpaca fibre means it is very light in weight and possesses wonderful insulation properties. It is non-allergenic so may be worn against the skin, it wicks away moisture, is delightfully soft and silky to the handle as well as being fire retardant and water resistant. In addition to these qualities alpaca fibre comes in 22 natural colours and shades giving it the accolade of being the most colour-diversified fibre-bearing animal in the world. Alpacas are also addictive!
Shearing is an annual activity where length, density and good fibre ‘organisation’ are desirable qualities sought. Genetics and correct nutrition should both be taken into account when seeking to produce well fleeced alpacas. Alpacas are not an endangered species and are not under threat. In the Altiplano of the high Andes Mountains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia alpacas live at altitudes of 5000 metres above sea level. Over the years alpacas have been exported all over the world and thrive in many different climates including South Africa. The gestation of the alpaca pregnancy is between 11 and 12 months and single births are the norm, with twins being extremely rare