Is similar in structure to sheep wool. It has flat scales making it feel silky and soft . It is a light fibre is valued for its thermal properties. Alpaca fibre is grown in a variety of colours making it appealing to the growing green market. Austalia is now exporting fleece. However because most herds contain a variety of colours and are relatively small in comparison to sheep flocks, it requires growers to stock pile and pool fleeces to ensure that there is sufficient fleece to export or the right quality and style.
Good shearing , classing and storage practices are critical to ensuring that fleece can be sold. This can involve more complicated shearing practices to eliminate color contamination of fleece.
Suri are less common in Australia and therefore the markets for the fleece are not as well developed.
The fleece hangs in long locks along the body and has a lighly lustrous silky feel. It is loved by hand spinners and fealters who make some amazing hand crafted garments from the fleece.
Good shearing management is essential.
The price a grower can expect for fleece can be affected by a number of factors.
- Poor style (no or very little crimp – Huacaya)
- Too much guard hair
- Poor skirting
- Fleece contamination
- Small quantities
- To much VM contamination (vegetable matter)
Processors ususally require minimums of 100kg of any one colour to manufacture, stock piling in appropriate lines and pooling with other breeders will improve sales opportunities.
Buyers will discount prices offered if the fleece is contaminated with seed or foreign matter such as plastic or baling twine or because there is too much guard hair, the fleece has not been skirted correctly or the fleece does not have the required style. for processing specifications.
A number of mini mills have been established in Australia to cater or growers that want to market their own lines of yarns and other products.
Llamas are the least common of the camelids bred in Australia. The fibre is generally not considered to be a commercial fibre because it has excessive guard hair througout the fleece. Hand spinners and fealters use the fleece and it is processed on a small scale in Peru, but there is no commercial market for fleece in Australia.
Most Llamas are bred for the leisure and trecking market or as herd protectors.