Fleece and Breeds
Whether you seek to purchase products made from this amazing fibre or play a part in the story of the Alpaca by starting a herd of your own, Moonacre Alpacas is the place to go.
The quality of alpaca fleece is measured in a unit called the micron, with lower micron scores being more desirable. Premium Alpaca fleece is made up of strands less than 18 microns in diameter – for comparison, the average human hair has a diameter of 40-80 microns.
A key part of alpaca farming is selective breeding, pairing males and females with low micron fleece in an effort to produce offspring who will inherit this trait. Low micron males can also be paired with higher micron females to improve their genetics. Producing cria (baby alpacas) with a low micron fleece isn’t enough; the most valued alpacas will retain this quality throughout all stages of their lives.
Many factors can affect the quality of alpaca fleece, ranging from the diet they are fed through to hormonal changes and ageing. Physical size is also thought to have an impact, with smaller alpacas often producing finer fleece.
There are two breeds of alpaca – the Suri, and the Huacaya. The difference between the breeds is that Suri fleece grows in ‘pencil-like’ locks similar to dreadlocks, while the Huacaya’s fleece is more similar to sheep’s wool.
Approximately 82% of alpaca are Huacayas, largely due to the fact that their fleece is easier to work with. This is the breed Moonacre Alpacas chose to focus on.
No matter what breed you choose, farming alpacas makes good economic sense. To a large degree, this is because they are low-maintenance animals, which offer a number of advantages over more traditional livestock.
The Suri (Photo of Hadstock NZ Cracka taken by Ann Weir) The Huacaya ( Photo of Nevalea Helen taken by Amanda Bethune)