Alpaca fiber, is one of the most softest fibers out there. It is softer than cashmere. Alpaca fiber comes in plenty of natural colors ranging from Light, Medium to Dark Blacks, Browns, Whites, Greys and Maroon. Alpaca Fiber can be dyed into a rainbow of colors. Alpaca fiber is several times warmer than wool and much stronger.
Alpaca fiber can be sold to fiber processors or some farms will do the processing themselves and sell the fiber either carded ( flat or rolags ) or Spun into yarn, or make things out of the fiber using methods of Felting from Carded fiber. Alpaca fiber can sell raw for $ 3.00 to $ 5.00
per ounce. Sometimes raw fiber can fetch a higher price tag depending on the quality.
Alpacas can yield anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds of fiber per shearing. Sometimes this poundage can be more depending on certain alpacas.
The staple length of the fiber is from three to six inches in one year of growth. You do not brush alpaca fiber. If you brush alpaca fiber this can make the fiber fuzzy and dull the appearance.
Alpacas are sheared once a year, and sometimes twice depending on your farms location. There is also a certain time frame to shear depending on your farms location. For instance in Florida we shear our animals in April or May.
Once your alpacas are sheared, you must shirt off leg, belly and tail area. Any area of fiber that has alot of vegetable matter should be discarded. Usually a good shearer will tell you that when they are shearing your alpaca, the shearer will say this fiber is a Number 1, 2 or 3. # 1 Fiber is the Blanket, # 2 and 3 is the Neck and leg fiber. You can then store accordingly. Use Brown paper bags, Brown boxes or clear plastic bags with vent holes are best for storing your fiber. Avoid using dark plastic bags this will hold moisture and then felting can occur. Moths will also eat right through the plastic. Do not use moth balls - the fumes are carinogenic.
Another thing that you might want to have done is having your Shearer take a fiber sample off your animal to send off to be evaluated for micron testing. Having micron testing done on your animals is a great way to see where your breeding business plan is going.
To learn more about fiber and fiber testing please visit these sites:
We have used both places for testing our alpacas.
They have been in business since 1964 as an independently owned, commercial wool testing lab located in Denver, Colorado. We test raw wool for yield and fiber diameter. We also test at various stages of the textile manufacturing process and provide individual animal testing to provide selection data for breeders. Individual micron test reporting is now fast, accurate and affordable for sheep, alpacas, angora goats, cashmere goats and llamas.
Alpaca Consulting USA
Fiber Processing is where you send off your fiber once it has been sheared to have the fiber either, cleaned, carded, skeined, rolags or spun into yarn. There are fees for these services, check individual farms or processors for pricing. Below are just a few fiber processors,
You can google: Alpaca Fiber Processors for areas that are close to your farm location.
Morning Star Fiber
Alpacas - Snowshoe Farm