• High Follicle Density Does Not Decrease Sweat Gland Density in Huacaya Alpacas

    When exposed to high ambient temperatures, mammals lose heat evaporatively by either sweating from glands in the skin or by respiratory panting. Like other camelids, alpacas are thought to evaporate more water by sweating than panting, despite a thick fleece, unlike sheep which mostly pant in response to heat stress. Alpacas were brought to Australia to develop an alternative fibre industry to sheep wool. In Australia, alpacas can be exposed to ambient temperatures higher than in their native South America. As a young industry there is a great deal of variation in the quality and quantity of the fleece produced in the national flock. There is selection pressure towards animals with finer and denser fleeces. Because the fibre from secondary follicles is finer than that from primary follicles, selecting for finer fibres might alter the ratio of primary and secondary follicles. In turn the selection might alter sweat gland density because the sweat glands are associated with the primary follicle. Skin biopsy and fibre samples were obtained from the mid-section of 33 Huacaya alpacas and the skin sections were processed into horizontal sections at the sebaceous gland level. Total, primary, and secondary follicles and the number of sweat gland ducts were quantified. Fibre samples from each alpaca were further analysed for mean fibre diameter. The finer-fibred animals had a higher total follicle density (P more »
  • The Genetic Inheritance of the Blue-Eyed White Phenotype in Alpacas (Vicugna pacos)

    White-spotting patterns in mammals can be caused by mutations in the gene KIT, whose protein is necessary for the normal migration and survival of melanocytes from the neural crest. The alpaca (Vicugna pacos) blue-eyed white (BEW) phenotype is characterized by 2 blue eyes and a solid white coat over the whole body. Breeders hypothesize that the BEW phenotype in alpacas is caused by the combination of the gene causing gray fleece and a white-spotting gene. We performed an association study using KIT flanking and intragenic markers with 40 unrelated alpacas, of which 17 were BEW. Two microsatellite alleles at KIT-related markers were significantly associated (P < 0.0001) with the BEW phenotype (bew1 and bew2). In a larger cohort of 171 related individuals, we identify an abundance of an allele (bew1) in gray animals and the occurrence of bew2 homozygotes that are solid white with pigmented eyes. Association tests accounting for population structure and familial relatedness are consistent with a proposed model where these alleles are in linkage disequilibrium with a mutation or mutations that contribute to the BEW phenotype and to individual differences in fleece color. more »
  • Horse Color Genetics

    It is easy to understand horse color genetics at a basic level, since the basic coat colors of black, bay, brown and chestnut (including sorrel) are controlled by relatively few genes and not radically affected by the environment. On this horse color genetics page you will find a discussion of these genes and their affects on the phenotype (external appearance) of various colors and shades of horse. more »
  • 10 Ways to Stay Warm in (Sustainable, Super-Cozy) Alpaca

    Despite its luxury associations, cashmere is shockingly bad for the environment. As demand for cashmere has increased over the years—especially for lower-priced cashmere—the quality has decreased, as well as the industry’s ethics. This isn’t a new problem; a 1999 New Yorker article titled “The Crisis in Cashmere” outlined how the democratization of cashmere had led to dicey production practices in Mongolia and cheap, coarse fibers. Almost 20 years later, we’ve also found that the enormous herds of cashmere goats are overgrazing to the point where parts of Mongolia are becoming a desert, which threatens the other endangered species that live there. more »
  • Tailoring

    We offer a luxury item that is truly unique with a provenance that can rarely be found. As the only producer of alpaca tweed suits in the world you can rest assured that you are investing in something special. All our suits are hand cut and stitched in the UK by some of the finest craftsmen and women in British tailoring. Even the button holes are hand sewn and it is this attention to detail that means every suit is crafted to perfection and is of a quality you would find in major London tailors. more »