• Rugging: Perceptions Of

    At Illawarra Alpacas we have been rugging alpacas for the past 4 years. With a herd now numbering around 300, and being the only large herd involved in rugging (that we are aware of), we were invited by the Handbook editor to document our perceptions of this rugging based on that experience. Initially, we had been excited by the newspaper articles reporting colossal prices for “rugged” sheep’s wool, and, like all Alpaca Breeders, witnessing the almost daily routine of the dust bath on that gorgeous, soft, fine and fabulous fibre, we decided that, with our numbers, we were in an excellent position to experiment with rugs. The driving force behind this was the wish to see if we could produce a better product, and thereby enhance the value of this product in dollar terms as a return to all breeder. more »
  • Fibre Stats: Does The Machine Really Matter?

    For those seeking a short answer: no. There is no significant difference in the results of measurements for micron or CV made on midside fleece samples between different types of machines. But the answer can be made longer. Curvature, when measured using the same samples, showed significant variations between optical and laser methodology. And optical methods of measurement proved less reliable when trying to assess whole fleeces using grid samples, due largely to the limitations of sampling. To better understand the discussion, one must first understand the different methods used for measuring fibre, and their application in different types of testing machines. more »
  • Fibre Measurement

    The accurate and objective measurement of various characteristics of natural fibre is known as “fibre metrology”. Measurements are useful in describing the fleece characteristics of any one animal, and can be used to compare the fibre characteristics of animals within the same herd, animals in different herds, or of the same animal at different times. They can be used to compare the progeny of one sire with the progeny of another to assist in formulating breeding strategies. They are used when fleece is sold by description, and processors may use them to predict the performance of pooled fibre during processing. Care needs to be exercised, however, in making these comparisons, as there are many non-genetic factors which may influence these measurements. Before comparing the characteristics of two fleeces, one needs to take into account the influence of such factors as the sex, age, nutrition, colour, and general health of the alpacas from which the fleeces were taken, the climate in which the fleeces were grown, and whether or not a female was lactating, or a male working as a stud sire. Other considerations should include the length of the fibre sampled, the site from which the fibre was sampled, and the technique used to measure the fibre. more »
  • Buying the Best Oven

    With the adaptation and refinement of Embryo Transfer (ET) techniques for alpacas, breeders are increasingly turning to this technology to accelerate genetic gain in their herds. Put simply, ET takes a fertilised egg from one female alpaca (the donor), and implants it into another female alpaca (the recipient). The recipient then carries the pregnancy, delivers the cria, and raises it as her own, whilst the donor can be mated again, either to carry her own cria, or to be used again as a donor. more »
  • Do You Need Guard Animals for Your Alpacas?

    When Doug and I started Forest Glen Alpacas in 2003, we knew we needed some type of livestock guard animal for our alpacas. We both worked all day and there were many stray dogs... around our home in New York. Now that we are here in Pennsylvania, that was one of the best decisions we ever made. We have coyotes, bears, mountain lions, in addition to stray dogs around our farm. We sleep better at night knowing our dogs are on duty. more »