- In order to breed alpacas with better fleeces, we need to know the quality of the fleeces of our dams and sires. The only quantitative, repeatable, transferrable way to get this information is to submit samples for analysis in one of the many alpaca-fiber-testing laboratories. We are reliant on those results in assessing our animals, yet we rarely ask critical questions about those labs: how consistent and reliable are their test results? What instrument do they use for the test? What information do they provide? Where is the best value for money?
- The only way to know what quality fleece your alpacas are producing is to have it professionally tested. There are several wool testing services available (this is sheep country after all!). There seems to be quite a range of charges too! Whichever service you choose, you should be supplied with a “histogram” for each individual alpaca sampled as well as a summary sheet listing all your results. A good testing service will also help you to understand your histogram if you require it.
- From the sample supplied to the testing laboratory, 2000 fibres are measured and then processed to obtain, mean (average) fibre diameter, standard deviation, co-efficient of variation, histograms comfort factor, coarse edge measurement, curve, curve standard deviation, and spinning fineness.
- Objective measurement of alpaca fibre is now an integral process in the showing, breeding, marketing and classing of alpacas and alpaca fibre. Four systems are in common use, those being the OFDA and Laser systems in their laboratory and shed configurations. This study aims to test the comparability of those techniques in measuring alpaca fibre, and thereby validate their use in comparing fibre measured by different techniques.