Alpaca Breeders Association NZ

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What is alpaca fleece/fibre

For centuries Alpaca Fleece has been called “The Fibre of the Gods” and it has been given this name because it is so soft and silky to the touch. This is the “Handle” that breeders talk about and this comes about by selective breeding and selecting animals that have no medulated fibres throughout their fleece.
The silky handle is due to the scale height being only 0.4 micron.


Alpaca is soft, silky and lustrous and has a tensile strength three times that of sheep wool. It has also recorded as being three times warmer than wool as well.

Alpaca now starts as low as 13 micron and rises up to over 30 micron. The higher micron animals now are mostly older animals or animals that were not the result of selective breeding.

Alpaca occurs in 22 basic colours, including a true Black and comes in 250 shades. This is one of the down sides of these wonderful animals, because the mills or processors want large amounts of constant coloured fleece and we just cant supply it. This is why ABANZ is focused on white and light fawn animals, as we can dye this any colour we want. But you still can never match the beauty of some of the natural colours that turn up in our herds.

The average fleece weight per animal when shorn annually is around 4 kg. In our top ABANZ Stud Males we are getting weights of over twice this amount. Using these selected males, will increase our average fleece weights on all our offspring and at the same time lower the micron as well.

It is recognised that fine fleeces, 13-18 micron will earn a greater return for the grower per kilo and this is one of the goals of ABANZ and that is to give its members some direction on what to breed for.
The financial rewards we hope to offer our ABANZ members, we believe will encourage breeders to use the Males needed that will produce these animals.

One of the big advantages of Alpaca Fleece is that it actually feels 5 micron lower than it actually is when compared to Merino for example, so when we produce Alpaca with a micron of 18 and below, we know it can compete on the world stage with all the other exotic fibres.

In conclusion….. It is our belief that due to the amount of investment required to enter the Alpaca Industry, coupled with the exotic nature of the animal and its fleece that ABANZ needs to set and maintain a high standard and image, especially when showing our animals to the public, so our breeders get maximum returns from this investment.
We believe that this will encourage our breeders to strive for excellence in their Breeding Programmes.

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