Fiber to Fabric
Alpaca fiber is considered a luxurious fiber with a silky feel, finer and stronger than cashmere, lighter and less irritating than lambs’ wool, and warmer than both. The natural sheen of the fiber is still visible in the end product.
There is a high demand for raw alpaca fiber as well as for alpaca yarns and fabrics. In 1998 the USA, Italy and China were the biggest international buyers, followed by Germany, England and Japan. 40 % of world production is exported to Europe as either yarn, fabric or end product. Baby alpaca and super fine alpaca fleeces are sold quickest every year at highest prices.
Total world production is estimated at 4000 tons, which compares with 15000 to 20000 tons of cashmere, 2500 to 3000 tons of Angora rabbit and 5000 tons of mohair. Peru is the leading producer.
In South Africa the limited amount of wool supplies hand spinners and weavers. There is a mill in Wellington.
We are now breeding alpacas for fiber and are planning to be running a herd of 1000 animals in the future, with a core breeding herd here on the farm and fiber animals run extensively on other farms.