- A study of liveweight changes of alpaca adult males, females, and their progeny, was conducted through 3 seasons under continuous grazing on natural grasslands on the Mediterranean range of the Chilean Central Zone. Liveweight changes were positive and highest in spring (100 to 200 g day-1), moderate during winter (50 to 100 g day-1), and negative only at the end of summer and in fall (-110 to -150 g day-1). Weight gains of new born alpacas were greatest (110 to 150 g day-1) in the first 90 days after birth and then decreased slightly, reaching values of 75 g day-1 at 8.5 months old. Weight gains stabilized at 10 to 20 g day-1 at 3-years of age. The average annual fibre production was 1.57 and 2.36 kg in females and males, respectively; staple length varied between 8 and 10 cm.
- Alpaca numbers in Australia are estimated to be between 170,000 and 450,000, with the higher estimate considerable in view that the sheep flock only numbers around 70 million. Wool ranging from 24 through to 26.8 micron is blended with alpaca. The combination of alpaca numbers and some relationship of the alpaca fibre to wool are behind this brief look into this ancient luxury fibre.
Consequences of Differing Wool Growth Rates on Staple Strength of Merino Wethers with Divergent Staple StrengthsAn experiment was conducted to determine the effects of dietary protein intake after a period of weight loss on the wool components of staple strength for sheep with a history of low or high staple strength (18.0 vs 34 Nlktex). After being fed to lose 15% of their liveweight over 10 weeks, sheep within each staple strength group were assigned in equal numbers to either a low or high protein diet designed to re-gain initial liveweight in 8 weeks. Liveweight, feed intakes and the growth, fibre diameter and fibre length characteristics of wool were measured at regular intervals. After the weight loss and growth regimes were imposed there was no difference in staple strength between the low and high staple strength groups (14.4 and 14.9 Nt ktex, respectively). However, coefficient of variation (CV) of fibre diameter remained significantly different between staple strength groups. Wool growth rate at the time of diet change was the only significant component of wool growth and fibre measurements that was significantly correlated with staple strength. Supplying a high protein diet after a period of weight loss increased wool growth. This changed the position of break along the staple and increased the fibre diameter at the point of break from 13.0 to 13.9 J.1m without affecting staple strength. It also increased fibre diameter and mean fibre length growth rate. The low staple strength group had a significantly higher CV of fibre length than the high staple strength group. Fibre length growth rate to fibre diameter ratio was stable over time in the high staple strength phenotype but declined with time in the low staple strength line. The results suggest that large weight losses will reduce the difference in staple strength between animals with a history of large difference in staple strength. Rate of wool growth after the point of break did not influence this staple strength outcome.
Do Price Premiums for Wool Characteristics Vary for Different End Products, processing Routes and Fibre Diameter Categories?No Australian wool price hedonic studies have separated auction data into different end product-processing groups (PPR) on the basis of all fibre attributes that affect the suitability of wool sale lots for PPR. This study was conducted to assess: (1) whether including information about PPR groupings is more useful in understanding price than clustering by broad fibre diameter (FD) categories, and (2) if the ‘noise’ of macroeconomic effects on price can be reduced by using a clean price relative to the market indicator (RelPrice) formula or a log RelPrice formula compared with log price or clean price. Hedonic models using data derived from 369 918 Australian auction sale lots in 2010–2011 were estimated for these four dependent price variables. Linear FD models predicted less of price’s variance than quadratic or exponential models. Segmenting wool sale lots into 10 PPR before wool price analyses was found to increase the proportion of price variance explained and thus be worthwhile. The change in price with a change in FD, staple length and staple strength differs significantly between PPR. Calculating RelPrice or log RelPrice appears a better price parameter than clean price or log price. Comparing the RelPrice and clean price models, the mean absolute percentage errors were 6.3% and 16.2%, respectively. The differences in price sensitivity to FD, staple length and staple strength across PPR implies a complex set of price-setting mechanisms for wool as different users place different values on these wool properties. These price-setting mechanisms need to be incorporated in hedonic models for agricultural products that possess this characteristic. The wool price premiums can be used to estimate relative economic values when constructing sheep breeding selection indexes and can help determine the most profitable wool clip preparation strategies.
- In order to study how MTL affecte alpaca fleece growth at the slowest growth period of fleece (2～5 month), 12 pregnant alpacas were injected melatonin (MLT) by 0、 50、100、150 mg from Feb to May. The results showed that MTL caused diameter and stretched length increased significantly. During the experiment the fleece growth rate in treated groups was increased significantly, but MTL had no effects on picking amount and percentage of scoured wool rate. Above all, MTL played a great role in increasing alpaca fleece growth and 100mg was the best dosage.
- Our goal is to keep fiber grading as straight forward as possible on the farmer's end. Our system is designed to be simple to understand while identifying the areas of the alpaca with different levels of fineness and staple length. We ask that all farm's submitting fiber keep it separated into the three basic grades, based on how it comes off during shearing. Fiber should be sheared, kept separate by shearing location, and quickly skirted to remove barn yard debris and short cuts under 1.5” in staple length.
- The effect of maintenance v, submaintenance diets of pregnant ewes in 1991 and 1992 on establishment of the wool follicle population in their progeny, and its effect on the progeny's wool production (quantity, quality and variation across the body of the animal) to 1.4 years of age was examined. The experimental protocol used cloned animals created by bisecting embryos at day 6 of pregnancy. Each clone was placed in a ewe, which was subsequently fed from about day 50 to 140 of pregnancy at maintenance or submaintenance. Ewes on maintenance nutrition maintained liveweight throughout pregnancy, while submaintenance ewes were 12.1 kg lighter (P < 0.001) 10 days before lambing. In 1991, a total of 74 lambs were born, including 17 sets of surviving clones. In 1992, 102 lambs were born, including 18 sets of surviving clones. Only data for the 35 sets of genetically identical 'twin' progeny and their dams are reported. Birth weights of lambs born to ewes fed at the submaintenance rate were 0.5 kg lighter (P < 0.01) than their 'twins' born to ewes fed at maintenance. Midside secondary:primary (Sf: Pf) ratios for mature wool follicles were less (P < 0.01) at birth, lamb and hogget shearing (1.4, 1.5 and 2.1 units respectively) for the progeny born to ewes fed at submaintenance. Progeny from ewes on the submaintenance treatment produced less clean wool, 0.1 kg to 0.4 years of age (P < 0.01) and 0.14 kg between 0.4 and 1.4 years of age (P = 0.10), than their maintenance counterparts. Hogget wool was 0.1 pm broader (P < 0.05), with a 0.5% units lower coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (P < 0.01), and a position of break closer to the staple tip (P < 0.001) for progeny of submaintenance ewes than their maintenance counterparts. There were no significant differences in yield, staple length, staple strength and percentage of fibres greater than 30 pm in diameter. Differences in mean fibre diameter arose between 1 and 1.4 years of age, coinciding with the period that the animals were grazing high quality pasture. Effects of maternal undernutrition on mean fibre diameter and Sf: Pf follicle ratios of progeny were most pronounced on the hind leg (P < 0.01), and not significant on the front leg. However, variations in other wool quality traits across the body of the hoggets, expressed as a percentage of the midside value, were not significantly affected by maternal undernutrition. Clearly when evaluating management strategies for the pregnant ewe, the effect on lifetime production and quality of wool of their progeny needs to be considered. Merino hoggets that produce an extra 0.14 kg clean wool that is 0.1 pm finer will compensate for some extra management and feeding of their dams during pregnancy to prevent weight loss. If these effects continue throughout the life of the animal, then it will increase the cost effectiveness of feeding to maintain maternal weight over pregnancy.
Production, Attributes and Relative Value of Alpaca Fleeces in Southern Australia and Implications for Industry DevelopmentAn investigation of commercially important alpaca fibre attributes aimed to identify the influence of management and production variables on alpaca fibre and to quantify the relative economic value of fibre production. Fleeces from five farms in southern Australia (n = 1100) were measured using midside samples and standard tests and were assigned a relative economic value based on an analysis of market price data. Greasy fleece (GFW) and saddle weights of Huacayas peaked at 2 years and Suris at 3 years of age and then declined with increases in age until 6 years of age. GFW of Huacaya were not affected by mean fibre diameter (MFD). In Suris, GFW increased with MFD reaching a peak at 29–33 μm. Mean ± S.D. of clean washing yield was 92.0 ± 1.5%. The proportion of the fleece as saddle, neck and skirting components was (mean ± S.E., %): saddle 55.9 ± 0.9, neck 16.3 ± 0.5, skirtings 27.8 ± 0.6. About, 10% of Huacayas had fleeces with MFD < 24.0 μm, while 14% of Suris had fleeces < 24.0 μm. Both Huacayas and Suris had about 50% of fleeces with mean fibre diameter > 29.9 μm. One-third of Huacaya and Suri saddles had 50% of their fibres medullated. For Huacaya and Suri alpaca, the incidence of medullated fibres increased linearly from 10 to 60% by weight as MFD increased from 20 to 36 μm. The ratio of medullated fibre diameter to MFD declined as MFD increased. For Huacaya, there was no change in average staple length as MFD increased. Huacaya alpaca had a greater fibre curvature than Suri alpaca. Data on resistance to compression and staple strength was correlated with other fibre attributes. The price declined by 11% per 1 μm increase in MFD from 22 to 26 μm and by 5% per 1 μm increase between 27 and 34 μm. The total relative economic value increased with increasing GFW and with increasing saddle weight up to 2.5 kg. Total relative economic value declined as MFD increased above 23 μm, increasing live weight above 60 kg and with increasing age above 2 years for Huacaya and 3 years for Suri. The productivity and economic returns from fleece production of Huacaya and Suri breeds was similar. The Australian industry needs to implement commercial mating, shearing and culling strategies to maximise production and returns from animals aged less than 3 years. The main driver of economic value from fleece production was lower MFD of the fleece.
- 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.
Seasonal Variation in Fibre Diameter and Length in Wool of Grazing Merino Sheep with Low or High Staple StrengthThe associations between fibre growth characteristics and wool staple strength were investigated in groups (n = 10) of Merino wethers with either low or high staple strength. Sheep grazed together on pastures based on subterranean clover and annual rye grass for about 13 months. The sheep were weighed and injected intradermally with [35 S]-cysteine at about 14-day intervals. Mid-side patches were harvested and dye bands placed in the wool at about 28-day intervals. Patch clean wool growth, pasture digestible dry matter/ha and pasture crude protein/ha had similar seasonal amplitudes of production (287, 286 and 267% of respective minimum). These were significantly higher than the seasonal amplitude in liveweight (24.5%). The seasonal amplitude in fibre diameter was significantly greater than that for rate of fibre elongation (71.4 and 41.4% respectively). This seasonality in fibre length and diameter resulted in statistically significant seasonal fluctuations in the ratio of fibre length growth to fibre diameter. Fortnightly variability in fibre diameter was not significantly related to variability in fibre length growth rate between sheep for individual time periods. However, for the pooled data over the experimental period a statistically significant relationship (R2 = 0.13, P < 0.01) was improved with the addition of parameters for sampling time and staple strength group. Staple strengths for the low and high staple strength groups were 25.6 and 32.8 N/ktex respectively (P = 0.057). There were no significant differences between the staple strength groups in seasonal change in liveweight, wool production or fibre parameters measured in this study but the low staple strength group had longer fibres. Staple strength was most highly correlated with mid-side fibre diameter coefficient of variation (R2 = 0.50) followed by seasonal amplitude in liveweight.
Selenium Supplementation Increases Wool Growth and Reduces Faecal Egg Counts of Merino Weaners in a Selenium-Deficient AreaThis paper reports on the effects of selenium supplementation on liveweight (LW), greasy fleece weight (GFW), fibre diameter (FD), impact of parasite infection and plasma glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity in weaned Merino sheep reared in a selenium-deficient area (blood GSH-Px < 40 U/g Hb). At weaning, 208 Merino wethers were assigned to two groups: control (CTRL) and treatment (SEL). The SEL group was injected with 0.5 mL of Deposel, a slow release selenium injection. LW, blood and faecal samples were taken at 6-week intervals over a 24-week period. At the end of the trial the animals were shorn and GFW and FD measurements were taken. The SEL group had significantly higher (P < 0.01) LW compared with the CTRL group at Weeks 6, 12, 18 and 24. There was a significant difference (P < 0.05) in GFW between the SEL and CTRL group, 2.93 and 2.75 kg, respectively. There was no difference in FD between the two groups. A trend (P < 0.06) towards lower faecal egg counts in the SEL group was seen but the difference between the two groups was not significant. As expected, the SEL group had significantly (P < 0.001) higher plasma GSH-Px activity compared with the CTRL group. In conclusion, selenium supplementation in weaned Merino sheep reared in a selenium-deficient area could increase the LW and GFW of the young sheep while perhaps reducing the level of parasitic infection.
- Wethers from a mixed bloodline flock in western New South Wales were coated for 12 months between August 1998 and August 1999. The coated and a similar number of uncoated control wethers from each of the 11 bloodlines (2 medium, 3 fine and 6 superfine) were grazed together as part of a larger mob. Dye bands were placed in the fleeces of each wether before fitting of the coats and were removed before shearing when a mid-side sample was taken and a number of subjective assessments made of each fleece. The major effect of the sheep coats was to improve the style of the coated wool by about 1 style grade. This was largely the result of the coated fleeces being whiter, with less tip weathering and lower levels of dust and vegetable matter. There was no significant difference between the 2 treatment groups in wool production, fibre diameter, staple strength or resistance to compression. A partial budgeting approach was used to evaluate the economic returns from using sheep coats based on the observed differences in wool quality. Clean prices and wool values per head for the coated and uncoated sheep from each of the 11 bloodlines were calculated using NSW Agriculture's wether trial software and the flock least squares means for each wool trait. The analysis established it would be economically viable to coat all the sheep except the medium-wool sheep. Even allowing for 20% improvement in the price differential for medium wool, coating them was not economically viable.
- When in Venice, do as the Venetians do! That is, every minute you are out on the street, look as good as you possibly can! So we did. For my part, a divinely soft, hand spun, and loosely hand knitted alpaca scarf was donned, both to make me feel smug, and to make me feel snug. And I did! On about the third day , to my horror, I noticed a hole! And then progressively more; until on day five, there were about 6 holes! How could this be? Had the silverfish had lunch there? Was the spinning poorly done? Was I being too rough with my treasured scarf?
The Effects of Pasture Inputs and Intensive Rotational Grazing on Superfine Wool Production, Quality and IncomeA farmlet experiment was conducted between July 2000 and December 2006 as part of the Cicerone Project, which sought to enhance the profitability and sustainability of grazing enterprises on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. A self-replacing Merino enterprise was grazed as the dominant livestock enterprise, together with ~20% of the carrying capacity as cattle, on each of three farmlet treatments: higher levels of soil fertility and pasture renovation with flexible rotational grazing over eight paddocks (farmlet A), moderate soil fertility and pasture renovation with flexible rotational grazing over eight paddocks (farmlet B) and moderate soil fertility and pasture renovation with intensive rotational grazing over 37 paddocks (farmlet C). Prior to commencement of the trial, the three 53-ha farmlets were allocated equivalent areas of land based on soil type, slope and recent fertiliser history. This paper describes the effects of the three pasture and grazing management strategies on the production, quality and value of the wool produced per head, per ha and per farmlet. Up until 2001 there were no differences in wool production between farmlets. Thereafter, significant differences between farmlets emerged in greasy fleece weight per head and price received per kg of fleece wool. For example, the clean fleece value averaged over the 2003–05 shearings for all hoggets, ewes and wethers was 1531, 1584 and 1713 cents/kg for farmlets A, B and C, respectively. There were small but significant differences, which varied between sheep class and year, between the farmlets in average fibre diameter and staple length but less so with staple strength. In general, while the differences between farmlets in staple strength varied over time, farmlets A and B tended to have wool with longer staple length and broader fibre diameter than farmlet C and this affected wool value per kg. Differences in wool income per ha between farmlets grew in later years as the farmlet treatments took effect. In spite of farmlet A having a slightly lower wool value per kg, after taking into account its greater fleece weight per head and its higher stocking rate, the total wool income per ha was higher than on either farmlets B or C. The average gross wool income per ha from 2003 to 2005 was $303, $215 and $180 for farmlets A, B and C, respectively. The highest amount of greasy wool produced was in 2004 when 38.2, 26.5 and 21.5 kg/ha was harvested from farmlets A, B and C, respectively. The fibre diameter profiles of 2-year-old ewes showed similar profiles for farmlets A and B but a significantly finer fibre diameter profile for farmlet C ewes due to intensive rotational grazing. However, sheep on all three farmlets produced wool with high staple strength. Multivariate analyses revealed that greasy fleece weight, staple length and staple strength were significantly positively correlated with the proportion of the farm grazed at any one time, and with soil phosphorus, legume herbage and green digestible herbage thus highlighting the significant influence of pasture and soil inputs and of grazing management on wool production and quality.
- Part One: A look at estimated fiber production of the US huacaya herd based on registration data supplied by the Alpaca Register Inc. (now called the Alpaca Owners of America) and extended to include non-registered alpacas in the American herd.
- Part Two: A look at estimated fiber production of the US suri herd based on registration data supplied by the Alpaca Register Inc. (now called the Alpaca Owners of America) and extended to include non-registered alpacas in the American herd.
- There is evidence that alpacas derive most of their glucose for energy from the deamination of amino acids. Consequently, they may have an insufficient supply of amino acids to meet their requirements for fibre growth. To optimise fibre production, it may be necessary to supply alpacas with supplemental protein to meet their requirement for extra amino acids. In this study, we examined if the proportion of rumen-degradable dietary protein (RDP) to undegradable dietary protein (UDP) from canola meal influenced the fibre growth of alpacas. We hypothesised that alpacas fed at maintenance a diet containing canola meal protein high in UDP would produce more fibre and spend less time urinating than peers fed a similar amount of canola meal protein with a low proportion of UDP. Four groups of eight alpacas were fed diets with the following ratios of UDP : RDP: 0 : 100, 30 : 70, 60 : 40 or 100 : 0 from canola meal protein. The fibre growth of the animals was measured over 2 months and the behaviour of the animals in the two extreme groups (0 and 100% UDP) was measured over 5 days. The alpacas fed the 0% UDP diet produced fibre of finer diameter than the alpacas fed diets containing higher levels of UDP (P = 0.039) and the 0% UDP group also spent more time urinating (P = 0.027). This result suggests that alpacas may have a limited ability to recycle nitrogen to the fermentative chambers of their stomach when fed a diet low in UDP. Consequently, microbial protein synthesis in the fermentative chambers may have limited the supply of amino acids available to the alpacas.
Variation of Fibre Characteristics Among Sampling Sites for Huacaya Alpaca Fleeces from the High AndesIn the Huancavelica region of Peru alpacas form the main and often only means of deriving an income for 3300 poor families in 60 communities. Ninety percent of alpacas in the region are Huacaya which are grazed at altitudes 4000–4800 m. Little attention has been paid to alpacas grazed in the High Andes. We aimed to: (i) quantify the variation in alpaca mean fibre diameter (MFD), fibre diameter coefficient of variation (CVD), fibre curvature (FC) and staple length (SL) among 24 sampling sites, (ii) quantify the difference between the mid-side sampling site and other fleece components for each fleece attribute, (iii) identify the sampling site with the highest correlation to the fibre attributes of the fleece in general, and (iv) quantify the relationship between FC and MFD for alpaca. Adult female alpacas (n = 31, mean live weight 71 kg) were sampled and had their fleece weighed in 8 components. Total mean fleece weight was 3.35 kg (range 2.13–6.01). Staples were measured for length (mm) and tested on the OFDA2000 to determine MFD, CVD and FC. The effect of the site was determined using ANOVA analysis. Values for FC were log10 transformed. Correlations between sites and regression analysis between MFD and FC were performed. The mean values for the mid-side site were: MFD 26.3 μm; CVD 20.2%; FC 34.9 °/mm; SL 91 mm, which were finer and longer than other fleece components. The variation in MFD between the 24 sampling sites was 20.2–50.6 μm and between 9 sampling sites in the main fleece saddle was 24.8–31.7 μm. Fleece attributes varied significantly between all fleece components and among fleece sites (P
- One of the most popular questions I receive is, "How do I wash my fiber?" I wash my alpaca fiber in big livestock water tanks. We simply use hot tap water and Ajax dish soap. We use Ajax because it is the cheapest surfactant dish soap that I have been able to find. By the ounce from Wal-Mart (in the big bottles) it is even cheaper than the bulk I have been able to find online. It seems too simple, but it works well for me and I wash a little over a thousand pounds of fiber a year! (note: you will see Equate hand soap in some of the pictures, I don’t use that to wash, we use that for felting…. it is NOT a surfactant and it will not be effective in removing grease from your wash fibers).