• Alpaca Fiber: One of the Softest Natural Fibers on Earth

    Luxurious to the touch, yet warm, cozy and lightweight, garments made from alpaca fiber are quickly catching on as one of the world's best kept secrets in the clothing and fashion industry. Once you've experienced alpaca, you can never go back wool for winter wear. Alpaca fiber has a long and colorful history. The ancient tribes of the Andean highlands of Peru, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia were the first to domesticate the wild vicuna which was, and still is indigenous to the area. By selectively breeding this animal, the alpaca breed was developed, becoming a crucial component for the survival of these tribes by providing meat, fiber, hide, fuel and basis for monetary exchange. more »
  • Efficient Alpaca Breeding

    The primary goal of an alpaca breeding program is to efficiently and safely impregnate females with the least amount of stress for all parties involved. The role of the alpaca manager is to facilitate breedings to maximize a herd’s development. Doing this effectively requires some knowledge of reproductive biology, an understanding of basic genetics, and interpretation of behaviors that indicate reproductive status. Developing the ability to accurately identify aberrant aspects of reproductive performance also helps improve program efficiency. This article gives an overview of some of the reproductive techniques used in South America. In addition, some troubleshooting tips are offered in an effort to provide the North American alpaca breeder with new insight and practical ways to sleuth and avoid reproductive problems within their herd. more »
  • Benefits of Alpaca Fiber

    Long ago, alpaca fiber was reserved for royalty. Today, it is sold several ways. Hand-spinners and fiber artists buy raw fleece. Knitters often purchase alpaca yarn. Fiber cooperatives mills collect alpaca fiber and process it on behalf of the producer. more »
  • Hormonal Indicators of Pregnancy in Llamas and Alpacas

    OBJECTIVE: To determine concentrations of estrone sulfate in serum, estrone sulfate in urine, relaxin in serum, and progesterone in serum in pregnant llamas and alpacas and to assess the potential of these hormones as pregnancy indicators. DESIGN: Prospective study. ANIMALS: 19 parous pregnant camelids (8 llamas and 11 alpacas). PROCEDURE: Estrone sulfate concentrations (in serum and in urine) and progesterone concentrations (in serum) were determined by enzyme immunoassay. Relaxin concentrations (in serum) were measured by radioimmunoassay. Serum and urine samples were collected daily for the first 30 days after breeding and, thereafter, once weekly until parturition. RESULTS: Estrone sulfate concentrations (in serum and in urine) peaked twice during pregnancy. The first took place 21 days after breeding and the second during the last month of pregnancy. Relaxin concentrations increased at 3 months of gestation to > 20 ng/mL, decreased at 5 months to 5 ng/mL, then increased from 8 months of pregnancy until parturition. Progesterone concentrations were detectable 4 days after breeding and were maintained > 2 ng/mL throughout pregnancy. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The first increase in estrone sulfate concentration over basal values may indicate early interaction between mother and embryo, whereas the second increase may reflect fetal viability. Use of estrone sulfate concentration to diagnose pregnancy in llamas and alpacas is highly dependent on time of sampling. Relaxin concentration in serum is a superior indicator of pregnancy after the second month in the Ilama and alpaca because its existence is suggestive of interaction between mother and fetus, and concentrations are greater than basal values for a long period of pregnancy. Progesterone is not a direct product of the embryo or fetus and only indirectly confirms a diagnosis of pregnancy. more »
  • How to Correct Abnormal IgG Levels in Newborn Llamas

    Triple J Farms has developed a method of monitoring passive transfer in the newborn llama by using a radial immunodiffusion test. To date we have monitored over 300 mother IgG colostrum titers and the next day serum levels of IgG in the cria. By observation of the cria's activity, weight gain, and general health we have determined what we consider to be adequate IgG levels in the 24 hour cria. A cria may not achieve this level due to a difficult birth, poor milk, improper sucking reflex, lowered body temperature, etc. more »