The State of the Alpaca Industry Looking Back, Examining Today, Shaping the Future
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10 | Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012
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ON THE COVER: Prime fiber sample from Accoyo America Swiss Miss.
Executive Editor Jared Johnston Writer/Copy Editor Meyla Bianco Johnston Video/Advertiser Relations Mitchell Fullerton Imagery/Databases Brooke Stebbins Advertising Sales Ray Allen The material in Alpaca Culture is for information purposes only. Although the news included is believed to be reputable and every effort has been taken to collect it from reliable sources, no guarantee is given as to its completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed in the magazine in interviews, letters to the editor and elsewhere are not necessarily those of Alpaca Culture, its staff, readers or advertisers. Alpaca Culture does not take any responsibility for these views. No material from the magazine may be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted or distributed in any way without the express written permission of Alpaca Culture. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of copyright and other proprietary rights. Letters to the Editor: Alpaca Culture requires Letters to The Editor to be signed and include a return address. All letters are subject to editing for clarity and length. To submit letters to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org Alpaca Culture Letters to the Editor P.O. Box 111 Kootenai, ID 83840
Subscription Inquiries/Address Changes: Alpaca Culture Subscriptions Department P.O. Box 111 Kootenai, ID 83840 http://www.alpacaculture.com email@example.com Advertising Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Alpaca Culture Advertising P.O. Box 111 Kootenai, ID 83840 (208) 610-3161 Alpaca Culture, Inc. 2012 10,000 copies printed. All rights reserved.
36 Fashion designer Liliana Castellanos is producing elegant creations in baby alpaca. We include her in our Perspectives article beginning on page 36.
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1 2
Our Elite Sponsors
Alpacas and People
From Pre-History to Today and Into the Future
The First Export of Alpacas from South America and the Journey Toward Registries
Perspectives Points of View from Experts in: Fiber, Textiles, Retail, Design and Breeding
Alpaca Registries and Breed Organizations Assessment, Organization, Cooperation and Unity
The Unbroken Circle International Groups that Benefit Alpacas and the Human Populations that Depend on Them
Innovations Introducing New Products Using Alpaca
Spotlight Abraham Lincoln: Alpaca Clothing in History (plus, some good advice)
Editor’s Note My grandfather, Fred Johnston, started our family magazine, Construction Digest in Indianapolis during the Great Depression. I clearly remember walking the halls of the office as a child and the day my father retired from working there. Since then, the publication has been sold and is no longer in the family. I never got the chance to work at our family’s business, but always had an interest in design and art. Eventually, I became a graphic designer and have been working in this field for more than twenty-five years. I am truly thrilled to be able to see things come full circle with the launch of Alpaca Culture. Just as my grandfather and my father before me, I am dedicated to my chosen field. I am a project person and love nothing better than being in the middle of creation. There isn’t anything more thrilling than being a part of conceiving an idea then making it come to life. This is accomplished by a lot of hard work and the team here at Alpaca Culture certainly has risen to the occasion. I am proud of their dedication and help and I am proud to see this publication come to life. Alpaca Culture will cross many borders intellectually, artistically and physically. We have chosen to seek out the world alpaca community’s knowledge in our publication because we believe there is much to learn from all corners of the world. Where possible, we will stay true to the first language of those who appear in this magazine in order to keep their meaning intact. This publication combined with our website and video channels will represent the industry like never before. Our goal is to get alpaca into common vocabulary and share the many wonderful benefits this industry has to offer with the world. I dedicate this first publication to the memory of my parents, to our sponsors who helped us make it possible and to all of you who will be reading it. Thank you.
Jared Johnston - Executive Editor 2 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Alpaca Culture on the Internet
AlpacaCulture.com has been following alpaca shows all over the country. We produced the first live webcast of an alpaca show to date at the 2012 Futurity in Grand Isand, Nebraska. This broadcast was a fully produced presentation with announcers and live interviews during the show. Look for the release of the official production coming soon. Along with our live coverage, we have released video recaps of some of the big events. Analytics of our video channels shows that our productions have been viewed more than 8,000 times. Here is what our viewers are saying:
“I just wanted to shoot you an email to let you know how much I enjoyed being able to watch the futurity online! You guys did an incredible job making it look like a ‘walk in the park’ knowing it was the first time an alpaca show was broadcast live to the best of my knowledge. The cut-a-ways to previous day’s classes were great and the commentary as well as announcing the alpaca names and the farms. This was also a great feature for those watching and the farms that were showing getting recognition, too.” ~ One of your biggest fans, Jerry Bates, Southern Estate Alpacas “Kudos to Alpaca Culture for presenting the most entertaining and professional format for show results to date. It was exciting to watch and actually felt like being there vs. reading the results many weeks later.” ~ Kathy Stoffel, Crazy Horse Alpacas LLC
Elite Sponsors Amber Autumn Alpacas www.amberautumnalpacas.com - (541) 604-5277 Our world-class collection of alpacas is the result of our belief that the future of the Alpaca Industry lies in the acquisition of the world’s finest genetics. Because genetic breeding value is what will determine the market value of our alpacas as the industry matures, Amber Autumn Alpacas has purchased herd sires and breeding females well recognized in the North American alpaca industry as elite. Page 110.
American Alpaca Textiles www.americanalpacatextiles.com (724) 421-6995 American Alpaca Textiles is going global and green with commercially produced alpaca blended fabrics the world will sit, stand, and sleep on. Our product line includes upholstery fabric, carpeting, drapery and home decor items utilizing American sourced alpaca fiber and blends. Page 82.
Applewood Lane Alpacas (800) 303-6393 Genetics With Purpose. Committed to beginning with a seed herd made up of the best genetics available, Applewood Lane Alpacas believes in quality first. By establishing themselves as a farm stocked with the finest animals anywhere in the world, they are poised to increase their numbers and take the industry by storm. Based in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, their latest project includes building a state-of-the-art facility for the remarkable alpacas they’ve collected. Within three years, their breeding results have already produced 2012 color champions. Page 34.
Cas-Cad-Nac Farm www.cas-cad-nacfarm.com (802) 263-5740 CCNF currently has over 200 alpacas in residence covering most colors of the alpaca fiber rainbow though with a decided emphasis on the white/ light end of the spectrum. In the 15 years since Ian and Jennifer Lutz started their farm, they have bred and bought the best alpacas they could find, resulting in a herd that both reflects their high standards while also continually striving to push the development of the North American alpaca and its exquisite fiber. Page 108.
Cloud Hollow Farm/Maine Top Mill www.chf1752.com / www.mainetopmill.com (207) 832-4975 Our goal is to produce conformationally sound, healthy, even tempered alpacas in all solid natural colors with fineness comparable to their ancestor, and producer of the finest fiber in the world: the vicuña. The Maine Top Mill will bring back worsted top manufacturing and system designs to Maine, a state with deep textile manufacturing roots and existing manufacturers of materials and goods. Page 86.
RobAsia Alpaca Ranch www.robasiaalpacas.com (920) 901-5901 RobAsia’s breeding program has evolved into one of the best in the country by using objective, measurable data as well as critical visual assessment. RobAsia maintains a vast database on each alpaca’s production information. Understanding an alpaca’s lineage is one of the cornerstones of the breeding program at RobAsia. Information is shared openly, which sets them apart from competitors and accelerates their clients’ breeding programs to the next level. Page 32.
Tripping Gnome Farm www.trippinggnomefarm.com (207) 865-0677 One of the leading alpaca breeders in the United States, TGF has achieved incredible success in the show ring including winning the prestigious Breeder of the Year Award three years running (2010-2012) at the All American Futurity Show. The program has been crafted with world class, proven genetics and highly selective breeding practices for elite fleeces and consistent results. TGF is constantly working towards producing the ideal alpaca to meet the growing commercial demand for Royal grade fiber and the breeding stock that can produce it. Their 12 years of alpaca experience, along with backgrounds in investing and medicine allows them to provide full service and support to both new and experienced alpaca breeders. Page 22.
E N T E R P R I S E S
www.quechuaenterprises.com (208) 263-3300 Dedicated to the Production, Collection and Processing of Super Royal Alpaca. Page 84.
Snowmass Alpacas www.snowmassalpacas.com (208) 263-3300 Snowmass Alpacas has worked for more than thirty years to scientifically breed and produce some of the world’s finest alpacas. As a result, Snowmass has earned a reputation for their quality genetics, which reaches well beyond the borders of the United States. Today and in the future, Snowmass’ goals are to dedicate more time and effort to alpaca textile development and to further advance the science and breeding of alpacas. Page 24.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 3
ALPACAS and PEOPLE From Pre-History to Today and Into the Future by Meyla Bianco Johnston Our duty is to preserve what the past has had to say for itself, and to say for ourselves what shall be true for the future. John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) Many people within the alpaca community agree that this is a time of re-grouping, prioritizing and examining where we are headed with the future of alpacas. Because of worldwide economic factors, key players are re-assessing their business plans and strategizing about the best way to go forward as a prosperous industry. For these reasons, examining the past is that much more important. By knowing the history of alpacas, we can write our future. By learning from the past, we make the future brighter. Ancient breeders had to rely on their own observations to make choices in herd advancement. Today, breeders have scientific methodology to support their decisions, such as measuring the micron of alpaca fiber. Alpaca fiber is hollow (dark areas), giving it insulative properties, at right. OPPOSITE: The timeless interaction between alpacas and people.
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Photo: David DiGregorio for stylehiclub.com
Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 11
Throughout Europe, alpacas have been imported, are increasing in number and continue to gain popularity. A small group of Bactrian camels still roams wild in the Mongolian deserts. Their population is dwindling.
The Dromedary camel has flourished in Africa and the Middle East and is a central pillar of cultural importance. They are used for transport, racing and as milk animals.
South Africa maintains an alpaca breeding society, S.A.A.B.S.
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Australia has imported a large number of alpacas. With a cultural history rich in wool, this country has embraced camelids.
Migration during the Pliocene/Pleistocene transition led camelids across what was once a land bridge between North America and Asia.
Canada has a well-established breed organization and registry, the CLAA.
The U The Th United Un niited ted ted States SSta ta maintains m inta main t i th the llargest alpaca alpacca registry in the al world, wor w rld with nearly 190,000 19 90,0 alpacas registered re worldwide. wo
Origin and Migration The first camelids appeared about
thirty three million years ago. They roamed the Southern part of the
United States and the Northern part of
Mexico. Some migrated across the Bering
Strait land bridge to Asia about three million
years ago and the camelids that stayed behind became extinct.
As the camelids that migrated to South America evolved, some became vicuña and others guanacos, the wild
predecessors to domesticated alpacas and llamas. The
camelids that migrated across the land bridge ended up in the Middle East and Africa, evolving into what we know as camels today. A small number of Bactrian camels still exist and are considered a wild population. Dromedary camels were domesticated and have become an essential part of the culture.
New Zealand is increasing its interest in alpacas. The World Alpaca Conference will be held here in September 2013.
The vicuña developed on the altiplano of South America and has the finest fiber of any animal in the world. The alpaca was domesticated from this wild ancestor.
The guanaco evolved on the dry plains of South America and is the ancestor of the domestic llama. Alpaca Alpa Al paca pa c C Culture ulltu ture tur re • S Spring pprrin rin ing 20 22012 12 | 111 1
RIGHT: Alpacas graze in the Andes highlands at the foot of Parinacota volcano in Lauca National Park, Chile. BELOW: Vicuñas are the wild ancestors of alpacas. Pre-conquest peoples of South America’s altiplano domesticated them but they still roam free as wild populations, as well.
altiplano |alti’plänō|: noun Spanish for “high plain.” the high tableland of west-central South America, an extensive high, cold, dry plateau with little annual precipitation. puna |’poona|: noun The high cold, arid plateau, as in the Peruvian Andes. It occurs above the treeline at 10,496-11,480 feet (3,200-3,500 meters). Can be wet (at right), where water is commonly present or dry, like a desert.
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Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 9
bers exist. Although the advanced human society was thriving and rich, no written language existed in ancient Andean civilization and no record of breeding selection or results have been discovered.
In the Beginning
The first camelids appeared during the Eocene epoch of the Ice Age in North America, which ended about thirty three million years ago. They roamed the Southern part of the United States and the Northern part of Mexico. Some of these early camelids migrated across the Bering Strait land bridge to Asia during the Pliocene/Pleistocene transition, three million years ago. The camelids that remained behind became extinct. As the camelids that migrated to South America evolved, some became vicuña and others guanacos, the wild predecessors to domesticated alpacas and llamas, respectively. The camelids that migrated across the land bridge ended up in the Middle East and evolved into the camels, both the two-humped Bactrian and the single humped Dromedary. A small number of Bactrian camels (about 300 to 700) are still located in a limited area in the Trans-Altai Gobi Desert and are considered a wild population. The more popular Dromedary camels were domesticated and used as transporters or “ships of the desert,” beasts of burden and racing. At the height of ancient textile production, approximately two million wild vicuñas were present in South America in conjunction with a sizeable and flourishing pre-Columbian human population. Guanacos numbered about thirty to thirty five million. Total camelid numbers are estimated to have been as high as fifty million, though no exact num-
Ancient Cultures and Their Relationships with Camelids
According to Jane Wheeler’s ground breaking archeo-zoological work, “detailed data on size and color of flocks was kept utilizing the quipu, a memory aid made of knotted camelid fiber strands. Under Inca rule, an annual census was taken of the state and [sacrificial] shrine herds.” In an ancient ceremony that continues even today, wild vicuñas are captured in annual rites called chaccus. After capture, the animals are counted, sheared and then returned to the wild to graze the altiplano for another year before the next round up. Societies were distinctly striated, with royal individuals at the top of the heap, enjoying a godlike existence where they were worshipped by the less regal segments of the community. The fleece from the event was made into fabric called campi that was used only in royal textiles and ordinary citizens were not allowed to wear or even work with it. Vicuña fiber is, to this day, the finest, most elegant and expensive fiber on earth. The fleece ranges between 12-15 microns in fineness and each vicuña yields only approximately half a pound of fiber total. The animals are highly protected by
Alpacas Through Time Domestication of the vicuña and guanaco by pre-Columbian peoples
Camelids appear on earth 55.8 – 33.9 million years ago
3 million years ago Camelids cross the Bering Straight land bridge to Asia and migrate to South America
6,000-7,000 years ago
Spanish conquistadores arrive in the Andes and decimate Incan and camelid culture, triggering hundreds of years of undirected breeding between camelids
First importation of ten alpacas to the United States from England
Alpaca and llama mummies buried at El Yaral by pre-Columbian Incans as sacrifices to the Gods
Titus Salt builds alpaca fiber mill in Shipley, England. This triggers a brief Victorian interest in and resurgence of alpaca fashions in upper class England.
Background: Vicuñas thrive in the altiplano, a harsh and arid environment where it freezes more than 300 days a year and survival is extremely difficult.
A re-enactment of the ancient chaccu. Vicuñas are still gathered today as they were in pre-Columbian times. The fiber is sheared from the animals and the clip of fiber gathered is greatly sought by top designers and fabric manufacturers.
Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association formed
Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association formed
1989 1988 First importation of alpacas to Australia
First public alpaca sale at Eric Hoffman and Cecile Champagne’s ranch. Total sale $1.2 million. Top selling male Bravo Bravo for $60,000.
Jane Wheeler studies El Yaral camelid mummies
First import of around 300 Peruvian alpacas to U.K.
Third Annual World Alpaca Conference is held in U.K.
The first official Suri import to the United States from Bill Barnett DVM and Phil Mizrahie
Most paid for a single alpaca in world history: Snowmass Matrix sells for $675,000 to Double “O” Good Farms of Virginia.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 11
Jane Wheeler’s study of alpaca mummies at El Yaral showed that ancient breeders were producing very fine-fleeced animals. These were the pure domesticated alpacas descended from the vicuña.
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the Peruvian state, so the material continues to be exceptionally valuable. Based on studies of the sites at Telemarchy Rock Shelter in Perú, domestication of the vicuña and guanaco is thought to have happened between 6,000-7,000 years ago, when alpacas and llamas first appeared. The alpaca was domesticated in the wet puna region of Perú while the llama was domesticated in the dry puna regions. Wheeler states that “wealth accrued from extensive alpaca and llama herds gave rise to the first urban center, Pucara, in the Lake Titicaca Basin in Perú about 200 B.C.” Ancient South American civilizations needed camelids for nearly every aspect of their lives. Animals were eaten as one of the main sources of dietary protein in a region not hospitable to agriculture, with hides reserved for other applications. The dried dung was utilized as a precious source of fertilizer and fuel in the treeless, cold, harsh, mountainous environment. Alpacas were sacrificed in religious ceremonies as offerings to the gods while llamas were used as pack animals because of their larger size and surefootedness in mountainous regions. This resulted in a reliable commerce network that depended on llamas for transport of commodities. But perhaps the most important aspect of ancient camelids was the fineness and quality of the fiber alpacas produced. According to Heather Pringle of Discover Magazine, “Among the people of the Andes, cloth was currency. Inca emperors rewarded the loyalty of their nobles with gifts of soft fabric made by expert weavers. They gave away stacks of fine woolen textiles to assuage the pride of defeated lords. They paid their armies in silky smooth material.” The fiber (and ultimately textiles) from the ancient animals produced as a result of the breeding directives of the Incas is still remarkable. They were able to breed alpacas to a level of fineness modern people have only been able to approach recently and on a limited basis. Very old examples of pre-Columbian textiles still exist created from this superb fiber. Eric Hoffman notes “garments were so refined that an individual’s role in society was advertised by the intricate patterns on the tunic he or she wore. Animal breed-
ing and refined fabric was the passion of the Incas every bit as much as their remarkable stone work found in ruins like Macchu Picchu.”
Lessons from the Past
In 1991, “The discovery of 26 perfectly preserved, naturally desiccated alpaca and llama mummies at the pre-Inca (A.D. 700-1300) Chiribaya culture site of El Yaral in 1991, provides a first ever view of pre-conquest animals,” according to Wheeler. “The sand in which they were buried and the extreme aridity of the climate produced exceptionally well preserved specimens.” She says, “The fiber diameters of the ancient alpaca specimens were found to be significantly finer relative to today’s animals.” “Average fleece diameters for the two alpaca groups were found to be 17.9 (sd ± 1. 0μm) and 23.6 (± 1.9μm). Llama fleeces likewise included a fine fiber group at 22.2± 1.8μm.” Wheeler uncovered an “intensive selection for fiber quality” manifested in two specific breeds of alpacas and llamas for that purpose. Evidence also exists which points toward breeding for consistency of color. Wheeler states “special emphasis was placed on breeding pure brown, black and white animals for sacrifice to specific deities, as well as on quality fiber production for the state controlled textile industry and the production of sturdy pack llamas for the Inca army.” Further, “They seldom slaughtered healthy, sexually mature animals. Instead, they culled very young males, a choice that made perfect sense from an animal-breeding point of view. Only a few top-qualityfiber males were needed as studs for the females in a
ABOVE: A modern South American woman weaves a design passed down from generation to generation.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 13
The Incan people cherished textiles. To them, cloth was currency. Patterns designated class and family. Even the lowest ranking soldiers were clad in extremely well crafted and beautiful garments like this black and white checkered tunic. Royalty wore clothing made from vicuĂąa fiber, as precious now as then.
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After the Spanish Conquest, much of the breeding knowledge developed by Pre-Columbian peoples was lost. Efforts by modern alpaca breeders like Don Julio Barreda (pictured) re-established the lost art of producing fine, dense fibered alpacas. 10 | Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012
Photo: Daryl Gohl
Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 17
herd. The remaining males could be safely weeded out and butchered at a young age. So maybe what we’re looking at in the mummies are the animals whose fiber isn’t good enough,” Wheeler says. “And if these are the animals they sacrificed, they had better ones.” The Incas also developed the alpaca into the two distinctive fleece types we see today: the Huacaya and the Suri. The animals were so valued that a certain handpicked group of people called llama michis were used to tend flocks. The number of domestic camelids being managed at this time is estimated to have been around 20 million animals.
The End of an Era
The sixteenth century conquest of the Spanish was estimated to destroy almost 90% of the ancient herds and almost 80% of ancient peoples within one hundred years. This devastation spelled the beginning of the end of the royal herds and marked the conclusion of a civilization based on producing fine fiber camelids. Spanish cattle and sheep monopolized the best grazing lands. Surviving alpacas were forced to higher elevations, poorer grazing and considerably harsher temperatures. They were free to interbreed with llamas and the fine fiber pool that had been bred over centuries was greatly diminished. Wheeler says, “The early Spanish butchered prize alpacas for meat and rounded up entire herds to be sent to the silver mines as pack animals. They introduced foreign germs that decimated both the animals and their skilled tenders. Without the benefit of the breeders’ knowledge, the surviving Andeans ended up applying traditional sheep-rearing practices to camelids. They ran alpaca and llama males with the females all year round, thereby inhibiting the males sexually. Alpaca and llama herds dwindled.” For hundreds of years, the advanced knowledge gained by the pre-Columbian people was all but lost. Then alpaca fiber was rediscovered by Europeans during the industrial revolution and touted by textile merchant Sir Titus Salt. Queen Victoria famously wore a black alpaca coat as well as had dresses made of the fiber. An alpaca coat became a trendy part of the Victorian upper class wardrobe. Europeans have been enamored of the fiber since Victorian times and many designers make use of its 18 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
amazing qualities in their lines each year. But despite alpaca’s superior properties of softness, lightness, warmth and beauty, the fiber has still not gained a following comparable to cotton or wool. Although Victorian garments of this era were on the highest end of the spectrum of available textiles, they did not match the quality of the ancients’ products. However, in more modern times, native breeders once again turned towards their ancient cultural heritage and began breeding some of the finest alpaca fiber. In the recent past, breeding improvements were made by Don Julio Barreda (1919 -2006) at Estancia Accoyo (“sandy ground” in Quechua), Macusani, Perú. The name Accoyo is now synonymous worldwide with a heavily wool-covered alpaca with a robust and sound body structure. The genetics from his more than 60 years of breeding are still sought. The Michell family, who has been involved with the alpaca industry since the turn of the century, developed one of the first combing and spinning plants. Frank W. Michell was a great champion of increasing the value of alpaca fiber through selective breeding, improving industrial processes (such as scouring, carding, combing, spinning, dyeing, knitting) and the development of retailing. Rural Alianza, known as one of Perú’s largest and best quality fiber co-ops, is known for producing extremely uniform fiber. Their animals also have a reputation for maintaining a low micron throughout their lives. Today, many breeding programs have contributed to the advancement and development of fine alpaca breeding programs in South America. Although there are some large landowners in Perú with sophisticated breeding programs, most alpacas are raised by traditional campesinos (ranchers) and the fiber is most often pooled from an area and used collectively at local mills. Much of this fiber is then marketed to European fashion groups and in Asia. Perú’s alpaca textile, clothing and fiber manufacturing industry includes approximately five hundred exporting companies, most of which are small family-owned businesses. Many find it difficult to stay competitive because their production and manpower is so limited. Through hard work and the assistance of foreign aid, some have developed viable operations.
The New Age of Alpaca Perú’s textile legacy is marvelous. The relatively few examples of ancient garments that have survived the ravages of time speak to a level of craftsmanship that has been striven for since. Today, Perú is producing some of the finest garments and raw materials in the world. Its timeless heritage of woven and knitted fabric has grown into a hugely successful, automated modern industry. PHOTO: This alpaca fiber ensemble was created by Kuna of Perú and is included in their recently released 2012 Fall/Winter fashion line.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 11
Today, more mills are working with alpaca fiber. Pendleton, one of the largest woolen mills in the United States, has introduced a Home Furnishings collection including alpaca blankets.
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Perú continues to be the largest producer of alpaca fiber in the world today and boasts a population of almost three million alpacas. The Centro Peruano de Estudios Socials (CEPES – the Peruvian Center for Social Studies) reports that alpacas are the most important means of support for many rural families in Perú’s Andes. Many of these people live in extreme poverty in remote areas practicing the same traditional methods that have been passed down generation to generation. The indigenous populations often use what they need to live from the alpacas and then sell fleece from them to others, or trade for essentials they need for their households.
New Beginnings with the Help of Science
Why are we attracted to alpacas in 2012? The recent resurgence in interest for alpacas is growing each day for so many reasons. Alpacas are intelligent, beautiful and charming. They have a low impact environmentally, they are easy to keep and they are the next best hope for providing the most useful, gorgeous and luxurious fiber on earth. Modern breeders have been making huge strides in reducing guard hairs, producing secondary fibers with lesser microns and increasing consistency. Some breeders have been so successful that their fiber is approaching or has reached the quality of the ancients’. Modern breeders have powerful scientific strategies and measurement tools to rely on now, which promise even more useful results. Mills equipped to handle alpaca fiber are sprouting up all over the United States and in other countries. The products made of alpaca in the textile market are likewise increasing in volume and becoming more sophisticated and fashionable. “What we see with Jane’s mummies is that the Inca were very good at developing the genetics of good quality and uniform-color fiber,” says François Patthey, a director at Grupo Inca, one of Perú’s largest alpaca-cloth manufacturers. “If we had that today, it would be really fantastic.” Clearly, the industry is poised on the cusp of creating one of the finest international fiber markets ever known.
• Wheeler, Jane C. “A Brief History of Camelids in the Western Hemisphere.” International Camelid Industry Directory 2006: 1-5. Llamas-alpacas.com. Web. 2 May 2012. • Wheeler, Jane C. “Dr. Jane Wheeler Seminar: The Origin and Evolution of Alpacas « The Pacablogger.” The Pacablogger. CONOPA. Web. 2 May 2012. • Wheeler, Jane C. “Pre-Conquest Alpaca and Llama Breeding.” The Camelid Quarterly 1 Dec. 2005: 1-5. http://tbar-alpacas.com. Web. 2 May 2012. • Pringle, Heather. “Secrets of the Alpaca Mummies.” Discover Magazine 1 Apr. 2001: n/a. http://discovermagazine.com. Web. 2 May 2012. • Wheeler, J.C., A.J.F. Russell, and H.F. Stanley. “A MEASURE OF LOSS: PREHISPANIC LLAMA AND ALPACA BREEDS.” Archivos de Zootecnia 41.154 (0): 467-475. Web. 2 May 2012. • Hoffman, Eric. “A Quick History of the New World Camelid” International Camelid Industry Directory 2006: n. page. http:// www.llamas-alpacas.com. Web. 2 May 2012. • Weaver, Sue. Llamas and Alpacas: Small-scale Herding for Pleasure and Profit. Unknown: Hobby Farm, 2009. Print. • Roberson, Mary-Russell. “Discovering South America’s Camels.” ZooGoer Jan. - Feb. 2008: 1. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/. Web. 2 May 2012. • Hoffman, Eric. The Complete Alpaca Book. 2 ed. Santa Cruz: Bonny Doon Press, 2006. Print. • Vega, Mariana. “The Alpaca: A South American Camelid.” TED Case Studies Number 667 (2002): n. page. http://www1.american. edu. Web. 2 May 2012.
Photo courtesy Quechua Enterprises
ABOVE: Strides are being made in reducing guard hair through selective breeding, resulting in fiber that is unparalleled in uniformity.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 21
The First Export of
ALPACAS from South America and the Journey Toward Registries The first camelids to reside in North America lived at various times in exhibit-like environments and were seen mostly as exotic pets. Llamas roamed the grounds of New York’s Central park in the 1870s as part of the Central Park Menagerie. Others lived in zoos across the continent from 1895 through 1966. William Randolph Hearst even kept a small herd of llamas at San Simeon in Central California during the 1930s. The seventies saw a burgeoning interest in llamas. In 1979, Eric Hoffman crossed the Sierras and climbed Mt. Whitney with llamas as pack animals. Llama publications sprung up and popular events like llamathons took place, where llamas ran with their human companions in marathons. In the eighties, llamas began to command high prices at auction. Celebrity Sales’ first llama sale took place in 1989 and became the most successful llama sale to date. 1980 brought the import of the first ten alpacas from England by Richard and Kay Patterson. These animals were the first to reside outside of zoos in the United States. Alpaca husbandry had now begun in earnest. Many farms still involved in the alpaca business today were there at the very beginning stages. Between 1980 and 1982, Dick and Kay Petterson, also the first llama importers, imported eight pairs of Huacaya alpacas into the United States. These animals were third generation offspring from South American stock. In 1983, Irv Kesling imported 37 alpacas to the United States from Northern Chile. While this group of animals is often cited as the first to come 26 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
from South America directly to North America, they were actually from the same quarantine of a much larger group owned by Tom Hunt, Jurgen Schulz and Pet Center in Los Angeles. In 1984 and 1988 two groups of about 250 Huacaya alpacas were imported from Northern Chile. Anthony Stachowski, DVM bought many animals and began to sell them in 1984. Phil Mizrahie bought 134 animals at this time but did not market them for about a year. In 1989, Eric Hoffman and then wife Cecile Champagne held the first alpaca sale at their ranch. Seventy-one animals were sold for a total of $1.2 million. Bravo Bravo was the topselling male at $60,000. Stachowski, Fred Swift and high-ranking officials from Perú and the United States Department of Agriculture created a quarantine protocol. This
RIGHT: Most imports into The United States and Canada were from Chile, Bolivia and Perú. It wasn’t until the Peruvian imports that high quality breeding genetics were introduced into the U.S. and Canadian herds.
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allowed import of animals from Bolivia and PerĂş. The primary concern of the U.S. government was Foot and Mouth Disease, a scourge capable of widespread devastation. By developing tests and protocol, they worked through nearly impossible importation regulations. Then Mizrahi began to import alpacas into Australia. Many of these animals became Coolaroo herd foundation animals. New Zealand was next, with 750 animals imported by Murray Bruce. As more and more animals arrived, the need to verify lineage became apparent. Questions arose
ABOVE: One of the first Peruvian groups of alpacas imported into the United States. LEFT: The Peruvian imports provided Huacaya alpacas that represent the phenotype more consistent with what current breeders are trying to produce. BELOW: Breeders in the United States and Canada have continued to advance alpaca genetics and now possess some of the most advanced animals in the world.
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as to what should happen with alpaca/llama crosses and how they should be documented. The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association formed in 1987. Susan Stackhouse, a microbiologist, trained at the University of California at Berkeley, bought some of the first alpacas imported into the United States. She subsequently began an Alpaca Sub-Registry. Her feature article “Should We Bother to Register Our Alpacas” published in the January/February 1987 edition of Alpacas Magazine argued for an organized and well-documented approach. Later that year, Stackhouse wrote another article “The Dawn of Blood Typing,” which announced that Dr. Cecile Penedo, of the University of California at Davis, had found a way to use blood typing to prove paternity in llamas by examining twelve alpacas. In March 1988, 120 animals had been blood typed by U.C. Davis. The Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association was formed in 1989. At that time, there were only about 600 alpacas in North America owned by fewer
than a dozen people. The threat of interbreeding between llama and alpacas materialized when rumors circulated about llama breeders seeking to increase fiber quantity by cross breeding with alpacas. Because of this and many other issues, disagreements between the first alpaca owners raged during this time. As the dust settled, an organized way forward was sought. It became clear at almost the same time to everyone involved that alpaca owners should join together to form a registry and create “starter stock” for the country. By isolating a population, conducting meaningful research and controlling animal quality in a scientific way, the alpaca industry had its first footing in North America. In 1989, a species-specific registry began to take shape. This would assist in protecting alpaca gene pools and establishing bloodlines in
populations. Each alpaca’s lineage would now be documented, eliminating the possibility of nonalpaca progenitors. After studying many other livestock registries, the registry’s organizational design was based, with permission, on the existing Morgan Horse Registry. Although not identical, the horse registry model was similar to what the alpaca registry became. For instance, the horse registry has a narrow breed focus, much like a dog registry. It allowed for alpaca owners to eliminate animals with llama genetics. Because the technology didn’t exist, embryo transfer was not included. Artificial insemination was also excluded. The International Llama Registry (ILR) was the physical base for the new registry. ARI Founder Mike Safely says, “After the American Owner and Breeder Association (AOBA) members voted to ratify the new document the Registry was ‘open’ for a period of 90 days, until March 30, 1989. During that time, the original members of the Alpaca Registry Screening Committee (ARSC), Susan Stackhouse, Eric Hoffman, and myself, who were appointed by the AOBA Board of Directors, contacted every known owner of alpacas. Eric Hoffman persuaded his employers, Tom Hunt and Jurgen Schulz, to register their entire herd, which was the largest in the country, and I persuaded Phil Mizrahie, the owner of the second largest herd, to register all of his alpacas. Between the three of us, we caused over 95% (1,212) of all the alpacas in the United States to be blood typed and registered.” Safely continues, “From the beginning, the Alpaca Registry was significantly different from the Llama Registry. The primary differences were: 1) the mandatory identification of a cria’s sire and dam by a scientifically verifiable blood typing requirement and; 2) after a short initial open period, the Alpaca Registry was closed.” The next big question to confront the registry was that of screening. Screening involves taking an objective evaluation of an alpaca in three areas: 1) phenotypic characteristics common to alpacas 2) structural soundness with the absence of overt congenital defects and 3) fiber quality. 30 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Three Alpaca Registry members, Susan Stackhouse, Eric Hoffman, and Mike Safely were elected from the ranks of registered alpaca owners and began the Alpaca Registry Screening Committee (ARSC). They continued to use the ILR offices and U.C. Davis for blood screening. The group defined its geographic region as North America to make sure they were sensitive to the fact that Canadians had been part of the alpaca business since the beginning. A two-tier system using two classifications of screeners was decided upon. The veterinary screener worked from a two-page checklist and could disqualify an animal if any defects were found. The phenotype screener weighed, measured and identified each alpaca, gave it a body score, tested fiber density and made note of phenotypic characteristics. The point system totaled the phenotype and veterinary screeners’ examination results. If an animal did not reach the necessary number of points, it was disqualified and had to stay in the country where it was screened. Screeners (Americans, Australians and Canadians) were well trained and had to undergo an apprentice period before they were qualified to begin work. Screening for ARI was concluded in 1998 but continued in South America for overseas registries. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and even Perú used, in part or wholly, the screening forms developed. This continues today in many countries. Phil Mizrahie: “Screening fees cost us [importers] a lot of money but it was worth it. We realized every disqualified animal represented a financial loss.” Bill Barnett: “At first I saw screening as invasive and I wasn’t all that cooperative or happy about it. But once I saw it applied and understood it, I became convinced it is a good tool. It is a guarantee to the person receiving an animal.” During the 1990s, six importations were brought in by the CODI Group and Pet Center of Los Angeles. Each shipment averaged about 450 individuals and was named numerically, from P1 and so on. The first official Suri import came by way of Bill Barnett and Phil Mizrahie although
the first Suri alpaca was born quite by accident in America to two Huacaya parents in Port Clinton, Ohio in 1990. After that, 116 animals originated in Bolivia and were released from quarantine in Key West, Florida in November, 1991. During these imports, most breeders in the United States saw a significant improvement in the genetics being offered. Each group was purchased from various entities in Perú including: Rural Alianza, Accoyo and Solocotta, Macusani, Quenamari, Sollocota, Cchonchatanca, Accoyo, Cangalli, Achaco and more. Rural Alianza was known for its fineness and consistency, Don Julio’s Accoyo line added density and sound conformation. Other farms’ animals contributed unique genetics and offered variety that expanded breeding possibilities in the U.S. Two imports of alpacas from Perú arrived in 1993 and 1994 and both were required to be processed through the high security Harry S. Truman Animal Import Center (HSTAIC). The farm of origin was included in buyer information by 1994 and by 1995 the importers included histograms with each purchase of an animal. Also in 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture confirmed that Chile was Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) free. This allowed for streamlined import protocol so new owners could avoid long, complicated quarantine waits. But it also “threatened the stability of the alpaca market and raised alarms about the threat of disease being introduced into the domestic herd,” according to Mike Safely. His article The Alpaca Registry and the International Llama Registry: A History continues, “The AOBA Board of Directors reacted by asking the ILR to place a moratorium on the listing or screening of any alpacas until such time as a consensus could be reached about how to deal with imported alpaca.” It was decided to impose a 120-day moratorium before acting on the new rules. A symposium addressing the problem took place in Denver in 1995. Attendees discussed higher screening standards and fees and formed a new committee, the ARSC Advisory Committee (AAC). They wrestled with difficult questions about the differences between listing and screen-
ing and prepared to report back to the industry and ARI. The new screening rules that were passed as a result became “a model for registries around the world.” Eric Hoffman trained screeners to travel to South America and screen imported animals and the registry published the new rules and manual. After a few years, the registry became independent of the International Llama Registry and was officially named Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI) in 1998. That same year, Mike Safely proposed closing the registry, a surprise to the registry board but an idea that gained enough backing to make it happen. This didn’t occur immediately, giving those with the means to stockpile animals to sell into a captive market the opportunity to do so. Soon, the Canadian and Australian registries also closed to outside imports of animals, although later, the Australians reopened their registry. Because pioneers in the alpaca industry were adamant about screening and registering animals, North America was fortunate to start the industry with a good group of animals. Today, the ARI is a scientifically verifiable identification system with immense genealogical tracking pedigrees and confirmed ownership of more than 190,000 animals. As breeders become more and more sophisticated and science can provide them even more tools for success, the alpaca market can continue to grow and thrive. Sources:
• Hoffman, Eric. “A Brief History of the Camelid Phenomenon in North America” International Camelid Industry Directory 2006: n. page. http://www.llamas-alpacas.com. Web. 2 May 2012. • Safely, Mike. “The Alpaca Registry and the International Llama Registry: A History.” Northwest Alpacas - Alpaca Information - Alpaca for Sale. Version n/a. Northwest Alpacas, 2011. Web. 2 May 2012. http://www.alpacas.com/. • “Registered Alpaca Worldwide.” Alpaca Registry, Inc.. Version n/a. Alpaca Registry, Inc., 2012. Web. 5 May 2012. http://www.alpacaregistry.com/public/reports/alpacaworld.
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RobAsia’s breeding program has evolved into one of the best in the country by using objective, measurable data as well as critical visual assessment. RobAsia maintains a vast database on each alpaca’s production information. Understanding an alpaca’s lineage is one of the cornerstones of the breeding program at RobAsia. Information is shared openly, which sets them apart from competitors and accelerates their clients’ breeding programs to the next level.
Huacaya & Suri Alpacas W i t t e n b e rg , W i s c o n s i n (800 ) 3 0 3 -6 3 9 3 Info@ A pple woodLaneAlpacas.com
Perspectives Many leaders in the alpaca community have expressed the desire to unite as an industry and move forward with collective strength. “Perspectives” is a series article Alpaca Culture has developed for our readers to let you know what is happening right now in the industry from those who are directly involved with it. It will appear in each issue as a regular part of the magazine. By keeping our finger on the pulse of the latest developments, you stay informed of the innovations taking place around the world related to alpacas. Our
(per’spek-tivs) Noun: views, outlooks, points of view, accounts, opinions
goal is to get opinions from many people in various areas of expertise so what you as the reader get is the unvarnished state of the industry. For our inaugural issue, we made a special effort to select varied respondents active in breeding, fiber, design, textile production and retail. It is our hope that their experiences will be helpful and relevant to you and that you’ll look to Alpaca Culture for the latest news and trendsetting developments from those who know. Here is what they have to say, in their own words.
Paul Vallely Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing
Beatriz Canedo Patiño Fashion Designer
Don and Julie Skinner Snowmass Alpacas
Kit Johnson President AANZ Silverstream Alpaca Stud
Raul Rivera Marketing Manager Michell y Cia S.A.
Alonso Burgos Grupo Inca
Nick Hahn Hahn International
Charles Bishop Pendleton Woolen Mills
Santiago Ortega Alpaca Collections
Rob and Joanna Stephens RobAsia Alpaca Ranch
Paul & Jude Rylott Melford Green Alpacas
Jude Anderson Pucara International AOBA Judge
Al Cousill Pucara International
Robin Alpert Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association
Bob Weintraub Cloud Hollow Farm Maine Top Mill
Helen Hamann Retail & Fashion
Peter and Carol Lundberg Alpaca Blanket Project
John Tumlinson Andean Royalty
Claudio Aslan Aslantrends
36 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Liliana Castellanos Fashion Designer
PERSPECTIVES - FIBER Paul Vallely - Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing (AAFT) Paul Vallely is the owner and manager of AAFT, which is based in New South Wales, Australia and has a service based in the U.K. He created the Ultrafine Bale Scheme, the National Alpaca Fibre Seminars, the Premium Alpaca concept and was a founding member of Alpaca Ultimate. He also provides consultancy service to a number of studs in Australia and overseas. Paul regularly conducts various breeding and fleece workshops and often speaks at major alpaca seminars including international conferences. He has completed research and trials involving fleece marketing, breed selection using skin traits, application of fibre measurement on alpaca fleeces’ variation and relationship between objective fibre traits and key price drivers for alpaca fibre. His academic qualifications include basic genetics, statistical analysis, and economics with studies also in fibre metrology. Paul is a Councillor with the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association, Inc. He was a member of the wool industry’s Fibre Measurement QA Management Committee and founding President of the Fullerton Hadley Landcare Group.
Nick Hahn, Founder - Hahn International, Ltd. Established in 1997, Hahn International is a global consulting and advisory firm, concentrating on cotton supply chain management and competitive solutions through cluster creation and association building in developing and emerging economies. Nick is a strategist, facilitator and association development specialist. He co-founded Cotton Incorporated, a leading non-profit trade association created to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. cotton farmers and the upstream segments of the textile sector’s value chain.
Raul Rivera, Marketing Manager - Michell & Cia. S.A. Currently, Raul Rivera is the Marketing Manager at Michell & Cia. S.A. and has been involved in the alpaca industry for more than 12 years. He is also in charge of Hand Knitting Yarn Sales at Michell, thus travelling and promoting this line of yarns in North America, Europe and Asia. Rivera obtained a B.S. in Business Administration from C.S.U. Fresno and holds an M.B.A. from the University of Leicester (U.K.). Rivera is currently a member of the Export Committee at the Chamber of Commerce of Arequipa, Perú. Also, he has participated in the Marketing Committee of previous Alpaca Fiesta events held in Perú.
Pendleton Woolen Mills - Charles Bishop, VP Mill Division, Robert Christnacht, Manager (not pictured), Pendleton Home Setting the standard for classic American style, Pendleton is recognized worldwide as a symbol of American heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship. The company owns and operates some of America’s oldest woolen mills, constantly updating them with stateof-the-art looms and eco-friendly technology. Inspired by its heritage, Pendleton designs and produces apparel for men and women, blankets, home décor and gifts. Pendleton designs are also sold by select retailers throughout the U.S.A., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Peter and Carol Lundberg - Alpaca Blanket Project The Alpaca Blanket Project is the brainchild of Peter and Carol Lundberg of Elderberry Creek Alpacas in Stayton, Oregon. They proved enough alpaca fiber could be grown in the United States to mass-produce a product, then they coordinated a like-minded group of alpaca breeders’ fiber. The Lundbergs were instrumental in making the Alpaca Blanket Project become reality through Pendleton.
Robin Alpert, Co-Founder - Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association CIABA is dedicated to helping ALL alpaca farms get their product, fleece, into some sort of finished goods, whether it is through individual work or by banding together to deliver our product to manufacturers. CIABA’s focus is not the end product itself, but bringing the sense of community effort toward any application for their fiber.
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AC: Compare the alpaca fiber industry with other natural fiber industries now. Where is it in comparison to where cotton or another natural fiber is? Nick Hahn The U.S. Alpaca Fiber industry really hasn’t grown up yet nor, in my opinion, do they (as an industry) know what they want to be when they grow up, for example, a strong cottage/hobby business or a commercial textile business with a viable supply chain from farm to mill. The latter requires investment and technology to produce, harvest, process and ship fiber in commercial quantities with acceptable quality metrics. As it stands now, you have a cottage industry with a value added business model requiring hand processing into yarn, fabric and consumer products sold, by and large, from farm stores, farmer markets, industry show events and to a lesser degree, farm websites. This is not a “fiber sales” model where the value added processing is left up to textile mills and garment manufacturers with deep knowledge and experience in manufacturing, design, color, packaging, branding and consumer marketing. Wool and cotton are commercially viable “fiber sales” models that sell their commodities on the open market to the highest bidder
based upon market futures or an open outcry auction process. The whole question of “price” has not been addressed by U.S. Alpaca, there is no fair and equitable system in place for “price discovery” between buyer and seller which usually means the seller gets the short end of the deal as they’re forced to accept whatever the buyer offers just to get the fiber out of their barn, basement or garage. This is hardly a sustainable model in the long run. This should change with the introduction of the Campbell Fiber Sales Company (CFS) and their exclusive arrangement with the Roswell Wool Auction Company. The CFS tagline says it well: “The Fiber to Fashion Connection.” In my view, no one should sell their valuable fiber outside of an auction process, it is the only way a fair market price can be established. Wool has been sold at auction for generations as had cotton prior to its entry to the futures market early in the 20th century.
tonnes, with uniformity of traits such as fiber diameter, staple length and colour. This clearly places alpaca production at a disadvantage because of the obvious reduction in economies of scale. This is why alpaca’s market potential lies in the luxury range of products where relative high prices per kilo can offset the lack of economies of scale.
Raul Rivera Among all natural fibres – vicuña, mohair, cashmere, yak, angora and alpaca, the alpaca industry is one of the smallest in the world. The annual production of greasy (unwashed) alpaca fibres in Perú is estimated at about four and a half million kilograms. To compare, the estimated annual production of cashmere is 15 million kilos and mohair is seven million kilos. If we compare the alpaca industry versus cotton or wool, then we are extremely small. The estimated annual production of wool is more than 1,500 million kilos and cotton is 25,000 million kilos.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Paul Vallely The main difference between alpaca and almost all other natural fibers such as cotton and wool is that alpaca is characterised by small volumes of differentiated product, whereas the other fibers are produced in high volumes of uniform product. For instance, the average producer of wool or cotton has an output measured in
Alpaca in America is not in the same ballpark as cotton. First, the volume is much less. Second, there is significantly less consistency in the raw product. Alpaca appears to have a much greater portion of the cottage industry, but way less in the commercial realm. For example, the Alpaca Blanket Project has been the #1 commercial user of Ameri-
can alpaca fiber in 2010 and 2011. Total raw fiber received was 52,000 and 49,000 pounds respectively. In the past two to three years, commercial use has grown and is close to the point where American fiber will bring more value to the fiber producer (per pound) than elsewhere in the world. Pendleton Woolen Mills produces throws (hopefully King and Queen sizes in 2013), horse cinches, over 25 styles of socks, and even a version of American sarouk blankets, pillows, scarves (and much more) are currently being manufactured. In terms of industry growth, alpaca surpasses other natural fibers.
Robin Alpert Our industry is in its infancy compared to other natural fibers, especially sheep’s wool and cotton. Sheep’s wool and cotton have been established in the U.S. for much longer than alpaca because the animals and plants have been grown in the U.S. for much longer. In fact, there used to be a thriving alpaca manufacturing industry in the U.S. with tops imported from South America until a tariff was placed on alpaca so the sheep’s wool industry could grow. We refer to sheep’s wool as such because all animal grown protein based fibers are classed as wool no matter from which breed it comes. Sheep have multiple offspring with a shorter gestation Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 39
PERSPECTIVES - FIBER
time and cotton can be grown on as much land as the producers want to dedicate to that crop. Alpacas usually have single births and have a long gestation time. They do not necessarily produce more fiber by being bred bigger and/or by increasing the density of the fiber because, in many climates these traits can produce more health problems including skin disease, fiber rot, heat stress deaths, birthing problems and shorter life span. There are different opinions on the best way to do things. One opinion does not necessarily make another opinion wrong. The main thing CIABA wants is for everyone to work together, agreeing on points that are the same, and respecting those that are different. Different applications for different fiber types in terms of what works best for production, research and breeders willing to get education are important factors in the industry’s development.
AC: What needs to happen to make alpaca as big as cotton or wool? Nick Hahn I can’t think of anything happening that would result in alpaca fiber even coming close to the volumes and processing technology of cotton. As an enormous row crop grown in southern regions worldwide, it dominates the fiber land40 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
scape as the largest single fiber used for textile products including all synthetics. Alpaca has but a tiny fraction of the luxury end of the market competing with cashmere, which is also very small, compared to wool or cotton. Wool is smaller and in some respects similar to alpaca in that it is spun on the woolen system but the relative size of production between the two makes wool, as a raw fiber, more desirable to commercial mills. The best comparison would be to cashmere from a point of view of processing and end product performance but, again, cashmere is a commercially viable raw fiber with the supply chain links in place to satisfy commercial mills.
Paul Vallely Alpaca needs to pursue the luxury end of the textile market. In saying this, however, alpaca marketing needs to develop systems that maximise uniform volumes of consignments through cooperative approaches to pooling fleeces from various breeders/owners. These pooled consignments need to adopt procedures that ensure uniformity of fleece type within sorted consignments and also pursue a ‘Quality Assurance’ strategy to reduce contamination of consignments. These issues of uniformity and quality assurance are critical if alpaca is to pursue the high-end markets.
Raul Rivera I personally do not believe it is possible to grow the world alpaca population to yield greasy fiber in the amounts of wool and even less cotton. I also think we can increase the alpaca population to a certain level which would allow us to target alpaca to a niche market willing to pay a premium price.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht Increased supply, consistent quality and competitive price.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Federal tax law changes that would support the beginning of large fiber farms are necessary to bring the necessary volume of raw fiber to make alpaca as big as cotton or wool. Breeding for fiber consistency is vital, including consistency of fiber on neck and upper legs. Until recent years, U.S. commercial mills were not able to produce a highend alpaca product. Part of this came from the reduction in U.S. mills when the synthetic fibers became available. Another reason was the closing of U.S. mills and the sell-off of the equipment when the cost of manufacture in
RIGHT: The thirty-two colors of natural alpaca fiber from the Michell color chart, ranging from white to true black and all the colors in between.
LEFT: Professional shearer Eddie Dunham of E.J. Dunham Shearing Service removes the fleece from a Huacaya alpaca. The idea is to remove the blanket in one piece and to shear the alpaca with even strokes through the fleece, maintaining consistent length. BELOW: Fiber taken from the “blanket” or “cape” of the animal is the prime fleece. This is the fiber that will be used to create close-to-skin garments. There is very little hair or primary fiber here because this undesirable characteristic has been successfully removed by selective breeding.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 43
PERSPECTIVES - FIBER
the U.S. could not compete with those in other countries. Currently, a number of the remaining mills are moving towards alpaca as a means of sustaining and even growing their business. The current economy has created more demand for alpaca as it is a sustainable, green, hypoallergenic, natural product with many aspects making it superior to synthetic material as well as most other natural fibers. Alpaca has a tensile strength beyond that of wool. It’s also warmer than wool and resists pilling and abrading, making it durable as well as soft!
Robin Alpert We don’t feel that alpaca can reach the same levels as sheep’s wool or cotton because of animal production limitations. However, finding uses for all grades and types of fiber can make alpaca fiber a very sought-after product and expand the profitability of fiber production. Skinning for pelts and eating alpaca meat on a large scale really don’t have a place in a fiber-based industry unless the animal has a defect, which causes pain or premature death to the animal. If uses are developed for all fiber grades and types, it makes more sense to keep animals in fiber production. Selling by weight and not by grade was the reason the Peruvian alpaca fiber industry saw a drop in the quality of their alpaca fiber and therefore, their products. If the same price per pound is paid for a 19-micron 44 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
fleece as a 30-micron fleece, which do you think will bring a better price? Now, Peruvians have gone back to higher prices for finer grades, which is as it should be. Here again, the industry needs to be supporting research into the variations of alpaca fiber each animal produces. Where weight, or the lack thereof, can be the difference between a product being profitable or failing, shouldn’t we be breeding for those animals that produce lots of volume and little weight? The implications are far reaching: medical, space exploration, specific clothing users demanding lighter weight wear. The possibilities are endless. We’ve found that placing very coarse fiber between finer grades of fiber in felted rugs makes a springy rug with a nice finish. Findings such as these should be shared with the alpaca community and not kept as proprietorial information. Another might be able to refine the process and make something even better or mass-produced, but that can’t happen if information is not shared.
tensile strength compared to many other natural fibers. It exhibits a softer touch than other fibers due to its low scale height. It has excellent thermal properties and its range of colours allows an advantage with the ecomarket by avoiding the need for harsh dying chemicals. Alpaca fiber is also able to capitalise on the fact that alpacas are largely managed under welfare friendly and environmentally sound conditions.
AC: Why is alpaca a superior natural fiber?
Blendability: superior. Durability: comparable. Breathability: comparable. Warmth: superior. Weight: superior. Strength: comparable. Staple length: (depends) Suri longer, Huacaya varies. Crimp: Suri superior, Huacaya varies. Hypoallergenic properties: reportedly superior, but I am not aware of solid research to support this claim.
Nick Hahn It is light as a feather, warmer than cashmere, soft to the touch and blends well with other natural fibers like silk, wool and cotton.
Paul Vallely Alpaca typically has higher
Raul Rivera Due to the natural softness, natural colours, thermal properties and durability.
Robin Alpert CIABA doesn’t view alpaca as superior to other natural fibers, but rather as a natural fiber with unique qualities that make it superior to other fibers in certain applications.
AC: Compare alpaca to other natural fibers: Nick Hahn
Raul Rivera Blendability: Alpaca is a long staple fiber so for worsted spinning it can be blended with most natural fibers, synthetic and manmade. Some natural fibers are short staple fiber such as cashmere, but still, we at Michell manage to blend in small percentages. In woolen spinning, it can be blended with any fiber, but the alpaca needs to be cut in order to be processed properly. Durability: Alpaca is stronger than most natural fibres due to the hair structure. Breathability and warmth: Alpaca has microscopic air pockets, which allow it to trap body heat on cold days and likewise, make it breathe on warmer days. Weight: one of the disadvantages of alpaca is its specific weight compared to other natural fibers. So for instance, when spinning thick counts 2nm (nm refers to yarn thickness, and stands for metric number) or below, you end up with a very heavy garment. However, at Michell today, we have new machinery, which allows us to manufacture light weight and bulk yarns, reducing this weight problem. Staple length: Alpaca is a long staple fiber used mostly for worsted spinning. Its average length is 65mm (about 2.6 inches). Crimp: In Perú, we find crimp in the first shearing of
alpacas, especially in the finer qualities. However, it is important to mention that in Perú we look more into the fineness, length and colour rather than crimp. Hypoallergenic properties: I do not have information about this, but we find less people become allergic to the alpaca fiber; this may be due to the fiber structure.
Robin Alpert Blendability: CIABA has seen field research, which shows that alpaca is an excellent blending fiber. It adds lack of weight, smooth touch, flame resistance, and luster to other fibers, both natural and man-made. Some believe certain fibers such as sheep’s wool increase the ease of spinning alpaca and that a little sheep’s wool gives alpaca better memory (the ability to retain its shape). Some nylon is important in the production of alpaca socks because it adds strength to the blend. Alpaca and silk make an outstanding product and alpaca adds fire resistance to cotton, bamboo and other extremely flammable fibers. Durability: Another extremely important reason for using sorted/graded fiber is durability. Sorting/grading also involves fiber length as well as fiber micron. Uniform length as well as uniform micron makes a more durable product. Correct
micron grades also need to be used to produce products that will wear well. This is why the job of classing fiber is important. Socks made from fiber grades one and two might feel really good, but will not last long because of the friction created by walking. Breathability: alpaca is a fiber that breathes very well. Since moisture is not easily absorbed in the manner of cotton or sheep’s wool, it migrates through a garment from the body to the outside. It stays drier than other fibers because of this. Because of its smoother scale structure, dirt does not penetrate the actual fiber and therefore slides off more easily, allowing the fabric to resist stains. Warmth: with alpaca, we should speak about heat regulation rather than just warmth. Because of its breathability, alpaca keeps the body warm in cooler temperatures, but can also be comfortable in warmer temperatures. So a relatively light weight alpaca sweater can keep the body warm on a cool day, but may also be worn inside and not be uncomfortably warm. Weight: one of the many aspects of alpaca fiber that demands more research is fiber weight. Different animals produce different weights of fiber and part of this difference is not caused by different micron values, Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 45
PERSPECTIVES - FIBER
but the fact that some fiber is heavier in the same volume. Some of you may have experienced shearing a fleece that has so much volume that when you put it on the skirting table it overflows. Then, when placed on the scale, it only weighs three pounds when you were expecting five pounds. This is something that needs to be studied further to see what makes the difference. Strength: fiber strength is dependent on several issues. First and foremost is the condition of the fiber. Fiber can become tender (weak), along the length from poor nutrition, ill-health, or stress. These weak spots can produce yarns and fabrics with weak areas, which will wear or break with use. Shearing both Huacayas and Suris every year can go a long way toward relieving stress and weak spots in fiber. Lower micron fiber is not as durable as a higher micron fleece. Products made from fleece of varying lengths and/or microns can affect the strength of a finished garment. Staple length: uniformity of staple is the most important quality for making a good product. Different lengths are used for a variety of products. Many processing machines were set up to use two and a half to four inches. Longer staple will wrap around machine parts, jamming equipment but longer staple length is well suited for worsted 46 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
or fabric yarn and usually makes a stronger yarn. Crimp: crimp is perhaps one of the most controversial properties of alpaca fiber. Some say it is necessary for fabric memory, especially in knitted garments. However, Suri has no crimp. Suri has five different styles of locks according to the Suri Network. Suri is put forth as the best fiber for woven garments. There is also a Huacaya fiber type called “silky,” which is recognized by many fiber experts who deal with large quantities of fiber. It is also excellent for woven fabrics because of its lack of crimp. Crimp is also one of the easiest properties for manufacturers to put into fiber. Hypoallergenic: many people who cannot wear sheep’s wool can wear alpaca without irritation. One reason for this is that alpacas do not produce lanolin, a substance to which many are allergic. Another theory is that the scale structure of alpaca is longer and flatter or less fluted than sheep’s wool and therefore has a lower prickle factor.
AC: What is the best way to educate people about alpaca fiber? Nick Hahn Alpaca United has been established to do just that and is well on its way, branding and promoting the fiber with consumer and trade publicity, fashion
websites, a strong social media presence and a robust speaking program to inform and educate farmers and ranchers. This should be continued and supported by the industry as the most efficient means available to build demand for the fiber, which translates into supply chain enhancement.
Paul Vallely To educate the average consumer about alpaca can be an extremely costly and protracted exercise, even with the sporadic use of high profile people. The main objective should be to get alpaca products on the shelf. To do this means educating those people in key positions within the fiber processing/textile trade. Before this can be done, suitable consignments of well prepared alpaca fiber of a minimum of, say, 100 kilograms can be presented to these key players. If the alpaca industry were to promote its fiber, the first thing the market will require is samples to trial and evaluate. The textile market is known for not taking risks. The key thing to note with this is that you only get one bite at the cherry. If alpaca consignments lack required uniformity or integrity of presentation, then the damage to alpaca’s reputation can be substantial.
Raul Rivera Even though the fiber has been traded for more than one
century, there is still a lot to do to educate people about alpaca fiber. I believe breeders in the U.S. and Australia, by opening their ranches to the public, are doing a good job spreading the word of alpaca and educating people about the alpaca. In Perú, there are some private initiatives as well as government initiatives. Finally, I believe all of us who are involved in the world of alpaca (fiber, products, retail, news, etcetera) should be ambassadors of the alpaca and spread the word of alpaca to every person we meet.
Peter and Carol Lundberg We need to get alpaca products into the public’s awareness. This is only just now beginning to happen, but there needs to be more effort to this movement. In the past, alpaca breeders have been the major purchasers of alpaca products because they already know about the qualities of the fiber. Our focus needs to be on the general public through manufactured products. The characteristics of alpaca make it a natural first choice. Alpaca needs to be available to be touched. Placing your hand on alpaca for just five seconds brings warmth to that area and an awareness of incredible softness.
Robin Alpert There are several different styles of learning: tactile, visual,
auditory, and so forth, therefore no one way is the best way to educate everyone. Variety of educational styles is important in every presentation to reach more people in the audience. Listening, seeing and feeling should be included in every presentation. People need to be willing to learn and be open to new ways of thinking. It is the responsibility of the alpaca sellers to educate the buyers about fiber as the most important part of the industry rather than telling them that ownership only consists of breeding and selling animals. New breeders also have the responsibility of research and not just listening to one point of view.
AC: Please add anything else you’d like to about alpaca fiber. Nick Hahn At end of the day, the industry is owned and operated by non-textile people who are experienced and skilled in their respective professions of law, medicine, finance, technology, education etcetera, but not knowledgeable about textiles – they need to raise money to hire professionals in the textile fiber field to guide their growth and advise them on the necessary steps to get in the same commercial game as wool, cashmere, silk and cotton. The alternative, of course, is to remain a hand produced cot-
tage industry where the net per units are higher but the volumes don’t come close to absorbing the entire U.S. clip. What is needed is strong leadership from within the industry to step up, take the hits and move the collective thinking from cottage to commercial. Not, incidentally, meaning to “replace” cottage as there will always be a market for beautiful handmade products but rather to supplement cottage with a viable raw fiber alternative.
Paul Vallely The only other point I would make is this: in the lead-up to our Premium Alpaca scheme, we conducted market analysis of alpaca fibre’s potential. The overwhelming message we received from processors is that the four most important criteria for alpaca were: 1. Required fiber diameter 2. Uniformity of colour 3. Uniformity of fiber diameter 4. Uniformity of length. It should also be noted that crimp was of very little importance. For most, it has absolutely no relevance to processing performance.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 47
PERSPECTIVES - TEXTILES
Raul Rivera, Marketing Manager - Michell & Cia. S.A. Currently, Raul Rivera is the Marketing Manager at Michell & Cia. S.A. and has been involved in the alpaca industry for more than 12 years. He is also in charge of Hand Knitting Yarn Sales at Michell, thus travelling and promoting this line of yarns in North America, Europe and Asia. Rivera obtained a B.S. in Business Administration from C.S.U. Fresno and holds an M.B.A. from the University of Leicester (U.K). Rivera is currently a member of the Export Committee at the Chamber of Commerce of Arequipa, Perú. Also, he has participated in the Marketing Committee of previous Alpaca Fiesta events held in Perú.
Pendleton Woolen Mills - Charles Bishop, VP Mill Division, Robert Christnacht (not pictured), Manager, Pendleton Home Setting the standard for classic American style, Pendleton is recognized worldwide as a symbol of American heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship. The company owns and operates some of America’s oldest woolen mills, constantly updating them with state-of-the-art looms and eco-friendly technology. Inspired by its heritage, Pendleton designs and produces apparel for men and women, blankets, home décor and gifts. Pendleton designs are also sold by select retailers throughout the U.S.A., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Alonso Burgos - Grupo Inca Alonso Burgos established his breeding program, Pacomarca, in order to introduce elite alpaca genetics into the Peruvian market. His program is leading the way in Peruvian breeding practices and producing quality fiber that goes directly into making top-of-theline textiles. Burgos is also Director of the Incalpaca TPX company, propietor of the KUNA brand; Vice President of Colca Lodge and Colca Explorer travel agency and the originator and organizer of the upcoming Alpaca Experience, set for November 2012 in Arequipa, Perú.
Bob and Erin (not pictured) Weintraub - Cloud Hollow Farm Cloud Hollow Farm is a sustainable practice farm in Maine whose breeding program focuses on elite, proven, potent color genetics. The goal is to produce conformationally sound, healthy, even tempered alpacas in all solid natural colors with fineness comparable to their ancestor and producer of the finest fiber in the world: the vicuña.
Maine Top Mill The Maine Top Mill will bring back worsted top manufacturing and system designs to Maine, a state with deep textile manufacturing roots and existing manufacturers of materials and goods. The mill will offer ongoing educational opportunities, internships and research into alpacas and their fiber, fiber blending, alpaca nutrition, animal care and textiles, both manufacturing and millwright.
Peter and Carol Lundberg - Alpaca Blanket Project The Alpaca Blanket Project is the brainchild of Peter and Carol Lundberg of Elderberry Creek Alpacas in Stayton, Oregon. They proved enough alpaca fiber could be grown in the United States to mass-produce a product, then they coordinated a like-minded group of alpaca breeders’ fiber. The Lundbergs were instrumental in making the Alpaca Blanket Project become reality through Pendleton.
48 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
AC: What is your role in the industry? Alonso Burgos I am in charge of the Alpaca Genetic Development Division of Inca Group, among other tasks. I am also Director for Incalpaca TPX, owner of the KUNA brand and member of the Raw Material Committee of Inca Tops.
Bob and Erin Weintraub To make qualified Royal grade alpaca fiber (raw material) and qualified scoured wool into a processed commodity worsted top (a bundle of long wool fibers prepared for spinning) that can be used to create everything from high fashion textiles to luxurious finished goods made by textile factories to hand finishers and weavers. With the ability to make blends of top with other protein and natural fiber top, we can expand and enhance the use of Royal grade alpaca and wool. Of equal importance is providing the alpaca and wool producers a Maine-made high value commodity that can help their flocks be sustainable.
Raul Rivera We at Michell are the largest alpaca processing plant established back in 1931 in Arequipa, Perú. In 2011, we processed more than 55% of the fiber clip in Perú. We process the fiber from sorting to scouring, carding, combining, yarn spinning, dying, knitting, weaving
Textile production starts by making yarn or thread from clean, prepared raw fiber. Here, alpaca fleece is spun into yarn on a traditional spinnerâ€™s wheel. This process is accomplished on a much larger scale in the textile mills.
RIGHT: A worker operates a fringing machine on an alpaca fiber product at the Creswick Woollen Mills in Creswick, Australia. This is the only mill that processes alpaca fleece on a large scale in Australia. BELOW: Alpaca fiber is very versatile and can be dyed virtually any color.
50 | Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012
PERSPECTIVES - TEXTILES
and retailing. We are also involved in breeding and genetic projects in our Ranch Mallkini (www.mallkini.com.pe) in Puno, where all the improvements, in both breeding techniques and genetics, are shared with communities along the Puno region, the largest breeding region in Perú.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Our role is primarily that of buying fiber from alpaca breeders. Our initial goal was to prove that there was enough alpaca fiber grown in the United States to mass-produce a product. We have moved beyond that role and are now providing other manufacturers fiber other than Pendleton, which is good for the breeders as well as the industry. The window of use that we started with originally has opened wider, and we hope it will continue as alpaca fiber moves into the realms of other natural fibers.
AC: Where do you sell the majority of your product? Alonso Burgos China is the largest buyer of alpaca fiber followed by Italy. Finished products are sold in the U.S.A., Europe and Japan, mainly.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Initially, the processing begins on our farm in Stayton, Oregon. We receive the fiber, sort, grade and class it depending on its color, fineness and length. It is then baled and usually sent to a washing facility. A majority of our fiber is manufactured at Pendleton Woolen Mills in Washougal, Washington, where we make motor robes, or throws. The Bishops, who are 6th-generation wool manufacturers, saw the potential of alpaca fiber and gave us the chance to produce a 100% U.S.grown alpaca product. We are now contracted with them through their Home Collection Division and they are carrying the throws as part of their product line. It is our hope that the highly recognizable and respected name of “Pendleton” can help carry alpaca awareness to the general public. In the past year or so, we’ve also developed relationships with other manufacturers using alpaca fiber in their products.
AC: What special machinery does alpaca require that wool or cotton or other major natural fibers do not? Alonso Burgos
AC: Where do you process alpaca fiber? Alonso Burgos We process all the fiber in Arequipa, Perú. 52 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
It is basically a matter of regulation, when talking about wool. With cotton, it is a completely different kind of machinery because cotton is a “short” fiber, while alpaca is a long one.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht Alpaca can be processed with the same machinery and technology used to process wool and other natural animal fibers. This machinery and technology is distinctly different for processing cotton and other natural cellulose fibers.
Bob and Erin Weintraub There are two key components of the processing path of Royal grade alpaca fiber that are required. The first is qualified fiber that is sorted without hair and into other grades and the other is soak washing. Textile machines are purpose built for the types and microns that they will be processing and the end product that the mill will be generating. Another criteria is the staple length of the fiber to be processed and the anticipated distribution of strong and weak fibers (strength) across the staple. Once the micron range is determined, the staple length and anticipated range of strengths are calculated so then one can start to look for machinery with a qualified textile engineer. Also the most critical decision one has to make is: are you producing end products for the woolen system, semi-worsted system or worsted system. The challenge for processing Royal grade alpaca fiber in the range of 15 to 20.9 microns is that these fibers have varying
staple lengths and can have varying strengths across the staple. Therefore, the machinery has to be able to have a greater range of speed controls. Modern textile machinery consists of mostly high-speed machines that can process millions of pounds of fiber a year and the reality for qualified Royal grade alpaca fiber in North America is that there might only be under 3,000 pounds. So the short answer is that each grade range of alpaca fiber needs specific textile machinery designed and re-purposed for the criteria listed above. Our choice was to re-purpose 1980s NSC Schlumberger comb and pin drafters and custom-build a new carder and picker, all with digital speed controls. Our mill can process, with this setup, 40,000 to 80,000 pounds of top per year and will be processing Rambouillet and Merino wool into top as well as doing specialty runs of Royal grade alpaca. The total processing capacity of the mill is designed to be 240,000 pounds of top and top blends per year.
normally used by woolen mills has to be changed; historically mills have used gravity to draft the fiber prior to it being collected on drums to go to the spinners. However, without the barbs to hold the fiber intact, this process tends to cause alpaca fiber to fall apart prior to reaching the drums. Pendleton has had to revise their equipment by making supports to shorten the drafting lengths during this process. The fulling process is also different for alpaca fiber.
AC: How do you like to receive alpaca for processing? Alonso Burgos As free of contaminating materials as possible.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht Scoured to remove dirt, oil and grease, graded by fiber diameter, length and color and baled in 500-pound bales.
Raul Rivera Peter and Carol Lundberg The milling process is about the same but has some unique requirements in some steps. For example, it does not shrink in milling the way wool does. The alpaca fiber does not have the “barbs” that sheep’s wool does. This means it will not shrink, although it can still felt. This also means that the drafting process
We usually receive the alpaca fiber in bales, marked clearly from the breeding area or region it comes from, separated by quality, either Suri or Huacaya, and separated in tonal shades.
Bob and Erin Weintraub Core-tested, as with sheep’s wool and graded into qualified grades with the percent of hair
indicated. The mill prefers to receive alpaca fiber washed and baled for final sorting at the mill for verification. The mill can soak wash alpaca fiber. If individual fleeces are received, they must come with a grid histogram, preferred, or a single histogram from mid-side and each fleece will be sorted and graded. Every fleece must be fully skirted.
Peter and Carol Lundberg The requested and ideal alpaca coming in to Alpaca Blanket Project will have the blanket in a bag and include the identification tag. The bag should be tied closed and be clear plastic. This allows for a fast presort of colors for ease in later sorting, grading and classing of the fiber. We recommend the use of a commercial leaf blower to clean the alpaca prior to shearing. Because the fiber is later washed but not scoured, debris is not acceptable but can be easily removed by spending about two minutes with a leaf blower prior to shearing. The shearer should take care that there are no (or very minimal) second cuts. This means that any “flags” should be shorn after the good fiber has been removed and bagged. Second cuts that get through to the final product can leave a hole or noil, thus ruining all the cost and work involved. When shearing the neck and upper leg, shearers should only use 1/4 to 1/3 of the blade, which will vastly reduce second cuts.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 53
Alpaca fiber is very soft to the touch and has a wonderful drape. Once alpaca fiber is processed into cloth, it can be made into some of the worldâ€™s most elegant and beautiful garments.
PERSPECTIVES - TEXTILES
AC: What is the most important quality you’re looking for in alpaca fiber? Raul Rivera We are always looking for the finer qualities, especially for Baby alpaca where we do have a great demand. For your reference, Michell’s main standard qualities are: SuperBaby Alpaca 19 - 20 microns Baby Alpaca 21.5 - 22.5 microns FS Alpaca 25.5 - 26.5 microns Coarse Alpaca 30 microns and up Baby Suri Alpaca 22.5 microns Suri Alpaca 26.5 microns
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht Fiber diameter, length and color are all important parameters.
fort factor. Consistency includes the difference in size and length of the secondary fiber versus the primary (or guard/kemp hair). Breeding for primary hair that is close in micron to the secondary is vital for consistency.
AC: What is the least important? Alonso Burgos Crimp.
Raul Rivera Least important qualities are the fibers over 32 microns.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht It is all important to produce good quality.
Get rid of guard hair and color hair.
Bob and Erin Weintraub
Bob and Erin Weintraub
Peter and Carol Lundberg
Uniformity of all characteristics without hair in Royal grade and Baby grade.
Peter and Carol Lundberg The number one quality in alpaca fiber is consistency. Alpaca Blanket Project sorts into three micron grade ranges. Because alpaca is such a fine fiber and does not have the barbs of wool, what the human hand can feel is not so much the fineness, but the difference in size. Consistency across the alpaca increases the “hand,” sometimes referred to as the com-
Color. The least important factor, color, is also a vital factor. Alpaca Blanket Project purchases all colors of alpaca. America is the world leader (per capita) of color. ABP uses these natural colors rather than using dyes. The difference between a dyed fawn-colored product is incredible depth of color. A fawn in natural will appear to be a flat color from a distance (much like a dyed product), but up close, the mix of beige through dark fawn is a wonder not available in the dye world.
AC: What do you hope for from breeders? Alonso Burgos First of all, I hope they keep on breeding alpacas in the future with better return for their efforts. Then, I hope they can breed for finer and purer fiber. Finally, I hope they can understand the importance of proper management of the fiber during shearing and packing.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht More fiber, available in more grades. More colors.
Bob and Erin Weintraub The production of predictable quantities of alpaca fiber in the grades specific for a mill’s output. Mills need to know how much fiber they can anticipate from producers that fit that mill’s criteria and the buyer’s expectations. This will lead into the breeders being able to anticipate an income stream from their alpacas and hopefully they will see that breeding for longevity, Royal grade qualified fiber-producing alpacas can make their alpacas truly sustainable livestock.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Alpaca Blanket Project hopes the fiber producer will breed for consistency, clean the alpaca prior to shearing, insure the shearer is capable of and avoids second cuts and helps the industry as a whole to develop and increase public awareness of alpaca. Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 55
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AC: What do you produce? Just tops? Finished garments? Alonso Burgos Tops, cloth, sweaters, hats, socks, gloves, accessories, etcetera. Over 50 years of experience are now condensed in our own Brand: KUNA. It is not only an alpaca brand but also a design brand. We hope to be able to be present in many countries very soon.
Bob and Erin Weintraub We make top in the gram densities requested. Our prime top will be specifically branded. This can be blended top with other compatible protein and natural fibers. Requests for other blending could be considered based on the environmental impact of their production. Contracted top can also be produced. Our goal is to make top that can be spun to the finest yarn counts for the luxurious next-to-skin experience of royal grade alpaca.
Raul Rivera Mallkini: Alpaca breeding and genetic center. We also have a tourist side, where we host people interested in learning about the alpaca and our breeding programs. The guesthouse offers all the comfort of a good hotel, that is heating, hot water, meal services. We also offer activities such as horseback riding, trekking and llama 56 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
trekking. For further information, please visit: www.mallkini.com.pe. Michell & Cia: Producer of alpaca tops and yarns for weaving, machine knitting and hand knitting in alpaca and blends. For further information, please visit www.michell. com.pe. Michell Carpets & Rugs: producer of custom made alpaca carpets and rugs for residential and commercial use. For further information, please visit: www. michell.com.pe/carpets. MFH Knits: producer of knitted and woven garments and accessories, mostly sold under private labels. We use different qualities to knit the garments from Superbaby Alpaca to Baby Alpaca, FS Alpaca and blends. At this moment, we are not doing any next-to-skin or high performance garments. For further information, please visit: www.mfhknits.com.pe. Sol Alpaca: private labels and retail chains for an exclusive collection of alpaca and vicuña garments and accessories. We have more than 16 Sol Alpaca stores in Perú (Arequipa, Cusco, Lima and Puno). For further information, please visit: www.solalpaca.com. Mundo Alpaca: our tourist center located in the center of Arequipa next to our Michell Headquarters. We exhibit live alpacas (Suri and Huacaya) and llamas, show how to sort alpaca
fiber, give information about natural fibers, have an exhibition of weavers and their works from a community from Cusco, a textile machinery museum and art gallery that shows the paintings and textiles from the Michell Art Contest made in the last 31 years. For further information, please visit www. mundoalpaca.com.pe.
AC: What is the minimum amount of fiber you need to process a “run?” Alonso Burgos Aproximately 200 kilos.
Raul Rivera We run lots by colors and qualities. The minimum we can run is about five tons per quality and colour to transform it into yarns.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht 1,000 pounds.
Bob and Erin Wientraub 30 pounds is a minimum test run for raw top, 300 pounds can be sent to a commercial spinner with 3,000 pound runs being preferred. Combinations of qualified Royal grade alpaca can be run, in these production ranges, as a grouped run. Small runs cost more due to setup and re-certification after the run is complete. We anticipate that Royal grade and Baby grade alpaca fiber can
be processed at ten to 25 pounds per hour and wool at 15 to 30 pounds per hour. This does not include the intake verification and final testing.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Pendleton requires around 600 pounds of fiber in a single grade and color and at least two colors for a run. If a single color run is done, then the requirement becomes 1,200 pounds. We sort in five grades and six color groups, or 30 different sorts just for Pendleton’s use. We also sort the fiber that does not meet the parameters for Pendleton and it goes to other American users. In 2011, for each color, we sorted in five grades for Pendleton and ten other sorts for other uses.
AC: How much fleece does it take to make a blanket? Peter and Carol Lundberg It takes about four pounds of raw fleece (meeting requirements) to make a blanket. Currently about 35% of the fiber received meets Pendleton requirements, but about 1/3 of what should meet requirements cannot be used due to debris or second cuts. This means that it takes about 12 pounds of gross fiber received to make a blanket. As fiber producers gain understanding of the needs required for commercial processing, the percentage of usable fiber is greatly increasing.
AC: What do you think about the recent trend of using acrylic in a blend with alpaca? Alonso Burgos Acrylics have been used blended with alpaca for quite some time now. As long as the information about the percentages of the blend are clearly stated in the goods, it is O.K. It is mainly used to mix inferior qualities of alpaca. Some clients, however, like to use certain types of acrylic to give more volume to the yarns. They mix it with Super Fine and even Baby, sometimes.
Raul Rivera We have been selling alpaca and acrylic blends for many years in different percentages and in both classic and brushed yarns for various markets. These blends have various advantages:
• Better price compared to 100% alpaca. • Lighter weight: acrylic’s specific fiber weight is less than alpaca, thus you obtain a lighter weight yarn or garment compared to any other blend. • Allows us to make some special yarn effects, such as brushing yarns.
Charles Bishop and Robert Christnacht Acrylic fiber does not add value to the product. Consumers are purchasing a luxury product when they buy an alpaca throw. Acrylic cheapens the product.
Peter and Carol Lundberg Alpaca Blanket Project is pleased to offer 100% Americanbred alpaca products. The mixing of alpaca with synthetic material is needed for some products, such as socks. We have seen some beautiful products made with blends of alpaca/silk and alpaca/bamboo. Blending with these kinds of fibers changes the kind of “drape” you get in the finished product, which lends itself to certain types of clothing. However, any blending dramatically changes the characteristics that make alpaca fiber so unique, which is why we feel that blankets and scarves made from 100% alpaca provide vastly superior comfort and produces a product that will last many lifetimes.
Bob and Erin Weintraub As long as the micron of that type of fiber is within the range of the alpaca fiber then the blend should work, but our goal is natural fibers that are produced sustainably without negative environmental impact. In fashion, anything kind of “goes” and we hope to see great diversity of products made from and with alpaca. That is why the Maine Top Mill intends to host an Annual Fiber Arts Competition and Alpaca Fleece Show that will be open to all producers from manufacturers to craft and all alpaca breeders using International judging rules. The Mill will also be holding other forms of fiber education workshops and educational events. Plus other fun stuff. Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 57
PERSPECTIVES - RETAIL
Santiago Ortega, Alpaca Collections A former Marketing Manager for Grupo Inca’s KUNA brand, Santiago Ortega relocated to the US from Peru to co-found Alpaca Collections, a two-channel retail outlet for quality alpaca fashions. Alpaca Collections operates a retail storefront in San Diego and an e-commerce web store at www.AlpacaCollections.com. Alpaca Collections strives to produce high quality apparel combining the ancient Peruvian textile tradition with a modern South American design ethic. The products are made of natural fibers and fabrics, most of which come from alpacas or pima cotton raised or grown in Perú. “Alpacas are beautiful, hardy animals able to withstand harsh environmental conditions and give many seasons of amazingly soft wool, supporting their owners and their families for years,” said Ortega. “At Alpaca Collections we want our business to be like the alpacas: beautiful, sustainable, durable and able to give back to the global family.” Helen Hamann Hamann Designs Helen Hamann designs have been satisfying knitwear lovers all over the world for more than thirty years. Helen Hamann offers a unique selection of hand-knitted, ready-to-wear garments of unusual beauty and outstanding workmanship. All garments have been exclusively designed by Helen Hamann and hand-knitted in Perú by expert knitters.
John Tumlinson, President Andean Royalty Founded in 2005, Houston-based Andean Royalty, designs, manufactures and retails their own lines of natural fiber clothing. They were among the first to try retailing quality alpaca fashions over the internet with success. Andean Royalty utilizes only the finest Michell alpaca fiber in their designs and they manufacture their full line of garments for men and women with 100% quality control from start to finish. They give a portion of every sale to childrens charities world-wide and strive to be an eco-friendly, socially-conscious company. The Andean Royalty label brings extra care and special attention to its fashion line and corporate view.
58 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
AC: Where do you think the alpaca industry is now? Santiago Ortega I would say it is in a really early stage because I think there is a big gap between the knowledge of where the animal is in the American culture now. I will say that out of maybe ten people that I talk to, one knows [what an alpaca is]. So, that is a long way to go if you really want to get the name out there. I wouldn’t say it is a mystery but a lack of communication. I think at a certain point, in order to put a name out there in general, not only for the breeders’ industry, for the yarn industry or for the textile industry, I think major players have to at some point play a big role.
Helen Hamann I believe the alpaca industry is in limbo right now. The sale of livestock has plummeted in the last couple of years and the fiber side of the industry has not grown enough to be a viable source of revenue. Unfortunately, everyone is panicking; some are leaving the industry all together, others are feverishly looking for alternatives to survive, but all their efforts
RIGHT: Available ready-to-wear from Helen Hamman Designs, this rainbow cardigan is comprised of squares in 20 different colors. The garment is knitted in intarsia in a wide range of hues. Worked in Helen Hamann Elation, it utilizes every single color in Hamman’s palette.
BELOW: Alpaca coat from Sol Alpaca Collection by Michell.
From the Fall/Winter 2012 KUNA Collection Lucerna coat: Tulip oversized cardigan manufactured in woven bi-color fabric in 67% Baby Alpaca 18% Wool 15% Nylon. Lezard dress: Snake skin design on tri-color knitwear dress in 100% Baby alpaca, 10 gauge yarn. Loraine gloves: 45% Baby alpaca, 30% Suri alpaca, 25% alpaca.
Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 61
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are done individually, which in themselves will not provide the necessary volume to make any impact in the short or long range. Organizations like AOBA or AFCNA do not have the vision or the managerial expertise to envision and implement the hard choices that need to be made in order to preserve and expand the industry.
John Tumlinson The alpaca industry is moving forward. I have been in the business since 2005. I think there are still a large number of people who have never seen an alpaca or felt its fine garments. I am continuing to educate people, owners of boutiques, etcetera about alpaca. Note that Versace has produced some alpaca garments. The United Nations declared 2009 “the year of the natural fiber.” Television has used alpacas in commercials. Ellen Degeneres, TV personality, owns a few alpacas. There are only a few quality alpaca retailers. The alpaca industry is wide open for growth.
AC: Where do you think the alpaca industry should be five years from now? Santiago Ortega Well, tough question, because it has a lot to do with the economy, too. You know, there is a lot of uncertainty these days, with everyone in the world. But just a basic example in Perú, for example: in 62 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Perú, alpaca even 15 or 20 years ago, wasn’t something that people wore if you had certain income or social status. Companies hadn’t achieved the whole circle that we’ve been talking about, starting from the fiber, the genetics, how you breed an animal, how you get the fiber, how you process the fiber. It’s amazing, but they were surprised in the last fifteen years what an amazing product you can get out of alpaca.
Helen Hamann I believe the industry should be strong and profitable by then, but many actions need to be taken in the meantime to achieve the success and continuation of the industry. A complete and absolute emphasis on fiber needs to be at the head of any initiative. It would be ideal to have an American alpaca fiber industry, but in all sincerity, this is a dream that may never come to fruition. Not because of lack of willingness or desire, but simply because the labor and economic conditions of the country do not permit this venue to be a viable one. As general consumers, Americans have forgotten what quality is. We are looking for value and value alone. Therefore, under these conditions, it is impossible to compete with products that come from Perú and other countries. Their labor laws are not as stifling as are ours, which means their labor costs are probably a third or a fifth of what it would cost to make the same garment here.
Therefore, we need to concentrate on fiber, but with the idea of selling it in the global market and for that, we need to make sure the fiber is standardized to meet the requirements of the global markets.
John Tumlinson Hopefully, we will continue to educate and showcase these fine animals and garments.
AC: Did the old Peruvian knowledge got lost along the way? Is that why alpaca garments haven’t been so popular in Perú until recently? Santiago Ortega No, no. There was the knowledge but I’m talking about society here, not the final consumer. There were amazing brands doing it, like brands from Europe or the United States going to Perú. They knew they could achieve that quality so they paid more money to produce it. But those products were not sold in Perú. So for Perú, Hermes was buying sweaters you know, to take into Europe and Peruvian people were not aware of this.
AC: What needs to happen to make alpaca a world fiber, a really well recognized global fiber? Santiago Ortega Well, if you’re talking about different parts of the industry,
breeding and genetics, there is a link there to the markets. Maybe the yarn, I think it has a bigger target to let others know about alpaca. But I think definitely the big shot is with textiles, with the finished products. That’s where the brands are investing in marketing and they can one day be like the new cashmere. That’s the idea. Pricewise, quality and the benefits alpaca fiber has is really unknown. For a lot of people, they don’t have the knowledge of how good this fiber is and that it is affordable. It’s an affordable luxury. Not only do brands like Kuna want to work in it, but also the big brands are already using it. But they need to use it more, too. It’s amazing but only a few people know that Ralph Lauren uses alpaca, that Lacoste uses alpaca.
AC: What needs to happen to take the alpaca retail industry to the next level? Helen Hamann In my opinion, it boils down to one single word or concept: design. Unless you are selling a utilitarian product such as socks, you do not need design, but for almost everything else, design is what matters. Think of any product you would like to purchase and the first thing to think of is the design. Design is essentially the first impression you have of a given product. Even at the
grocery store, the product that attracts your attention is the one that you are going to pick up first. Then you read the label, review the price and decide if this is the one you want or not, but that first impression is what counts, because probably you will still buy it until all else is put into consideration.
John Tumlinson To continue to educate and promote these fine garments with celebrity endorsements and other strategies.
AC: What is your role in the industry? Santiago Ortega Kuna is a brand made by Incalpaca. Incalpaca is a Peruvian company that belongs to Grupo Inca. Grupo Inca holds many different companies for example, Pacomarca, they do the breeding and genetics and they import animals. They have another company, Incatops and they do tops and yarn. It is a big company; all they do is export the yarn all over the world from Perú. Then they have Incalpaca. All they do is finished products: sweaters, jackets, coats and accessories.
Helen Hamann I have been designing fashion and home furnishings, and working with alpaca for more than thir-
ty years. I was part of the founding membership of the International Alpaca Association and have been an advocate for alpaca ever since. Recently, I decided that I have to speak up and make people aware of where the industry is headed even if they do not want to hear it. I know I have made many enemies, but someone has to assume the role and point the finger to the things that are wrong and are causing us to lose our way. If we do not identify the problems, there is no way we will be able to solve them. All I have done is speak up and propose solutions – they may not be the right ones, but that is not the point. The point is: we need to find solutions to our problems and act on them soon if we want to have a viable industry in the short and long term.
AC: What sells best in alpaca? Helen Hamann For me and my kind of business, yarn is the best seller at the moment. The economy is not helping, because a couple of years ago, my largest sellers were in fact finished alpaca sweaters and coats. People loved the designs and were willing to pay the price. Today, things have changed so dramatically that it is hard even to sell a couple of skeins.
Santiago Ortega The alpaca accessories like scarves, hats and socks and the yarn for hand knitting. Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 63
PERSPECTIVES - RETAIL
AC: What is trending right now in alpaca? John Tumlinson Baby alpaca.
Santiago Ortega Light weight products with modern styles have great acceptance in the market.
AC: Are hot temperatures a problem for selling alpaca garments? Helen Hamann Yes, and to offset that problem, I introduced a pima cotton/baby alpaca blend that was perfect for the warmer zones of the country. But, in general, there is a resistance to alpaca for some reason or another. I believe it is because of the bad press alpaca got in the 60s and 70s when hippies were bringing back cheap alpaca sweaters bought at the folk markets. As you may well remember, they itched and they were awful. The alpaca industry is light years ahead of those days, but people still have the negative perception in their minds and it is an uphill battle to try to convince them otherwise.
John Tumlinson Yes, selling these products when it is summer is difficult. Note that buyers purchase their products for the fall in the summer. 64 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Santiago Ortega Yes, warm weather regions are not the best for alpaca.
AC: Do alpaca blends sell well? What combinations? Helen Hamann My pima cotton/baby alpaca was an excellent blend and I sold it with great success. I find alpaca to be an extremely noble fiber by itself. When I have tried to blend it with silk for instance, I have been very disappointed because now the fiber pills (which it never does by itself) or if you use too much silk, then it loses its shape completely. Some people choose to blend it with merino to lower the price, but again, I wouldn’t do it.
John Tumlinson Blends sell O.K. if they are made of Baby alpaca or vicuña, cotton, wool or silk.
Santiago Ortega Yes, blends, like alpaca with a percentage of silk and alpaca and cotton and alpaca and wool.
AC: What is happening that would take the industry backward, the mistakes? Santiago Ortega As an entrepreneur, I don’t think people make mistakes, everything, I would say, is an experience. I would say each has to
work based on their experience. If we are talking about America, the problem is the infrastructure. To get the type of machinery that you need to grow this industry, literally a mill is too expensive. Also, the labor rates are too expensive compared to what’s been done in Perú, and also the expertise. It takes years to fully understand. I’ve been working in the industry for seven years and I still don’t know so many things.
AC: So this is the full circle you’re talking about? From breeding all the way to sweaters . . . Santiago Ortega Exactly, and even from a factory that produces for other companies, they even finish with their own label. Kuna is their own brand. That’s what we’re doing, starting with a few stores in 2007, maybe eight or nine in Lima and now we have more than twenty-eight stores in Perú and have opened stores in Chile and Argentina. Those markets in Argentina and Chile are really peaking when you talk about fashion and having success there.
AC: What countries buy the most in alpaca? Santiago Ortega North America and Europe, I don’t know specific countries, but I will say U.S.A.
AC: What items do they like best?
AC: So it feels to you like the Americans are interested?
Accessories, and also the sweaters but there is still a long way to go in volumes.
Definitely. I’ve lived here before I knew the market and I think the product fits. As I said, our first year was very successful and we are only in the early stages. We are still small but we are looking forward to growing. We have to catch up with Europe.
AC: What about the Asian market? Is the market in the high echelons of fashion or a middle of the road product? Santiago Ortega The factories sell a lot of product in Asia. Koreans and Japanese love the fiber. Kuna’s international operation is fairly new. Three years ago, Kuna started their wholesale operation in Europe and it keeps growing. They already buy over two million dollars wholesale. Then you have another operation for Australia and New Zealand.
AC: If somebody asked you on the street, an American, who probably didn’t know anything about alpaca, what would you say is good about alpacas or alpaca fiber? Santiago Ortega Two words: warm and soft. Alpaca is thermic. It adapts to your body temperature and if you like natural fibers, it is the next option. Also, alpaca is affordable. An affordable luxury.
BELOW: A best-selling alpaca pullover from Andean Royalty.
AC: Are we (the Americans) the last market to catch on? Santiago Ortega Yes, because it is about opportunities. That’s what I bring here. My wife is American, so I ended up moving here and it was the perfect opportunity for me to start my own business and since I have worked with them for several years, I know the industry from different sides. I took the chance to bring the brand here and they are giving me a lot of support in introducing the line here.
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PERSPECTIVES - DESIGN
Beatriz Canedo Patiño Royal Alpaca, Inc./BCP Alpaca Design S.R.L. Beatriz Canedo Patiño was born in Bolivia and later on resided in the United States of America. Subsequently, she resided in Europe where the cultural and highly aesthetic ambiance of Paris inspired her to follow a Fashion Design career. She trained professionally with great Couturiers where she acquired the most exclusive High Fashion techniques. She designs many garments in camelid textiles. Her admiration and commitment were so passionate that she decided to design exclusively in these luxurious camelid fabrics that were unknown in the eighties. Therefore, she became a true pioneer for many designers.
Liliana Castellanos Milos International S.A.
Liliana Castellanos was born in Tarija, Bolivia and as a student, studied Haute Couture in Argentina. Because of her outstanding talent in combining native materials with the demanding aesthetic values of today’s fashion industry, she has become a point of reference and example within the world of Bolivian and LatinAmerican haute-couture. Her creations, which predominantly use the fine wool of the Alpaca camelid, allowed her to launch collections of unprecedented elegance, with glamorous pieces that have conquered new horizons all over the world.
Claudio Aslan, President Aslantrends USA Corp. Founded in 1951, AslanTrends is committed to producing top quality natural yarns from South America. They are proud to bring you the best natural yarns for all your knitting and crochet needs. AslanTrends is fully committed to provide you with the best quality, soft and sumptuous alpaca, angora, merino, and cotton yarns from the region: especially selected fibers designed to delight and inspire. (Due to the political environment in Bolivia, we are unable to include a picture of Aslan).
AC: What is the latest trend in alpaca now? Beatriz Canedo Patiño I would say a very light, almost weightless alpaca.
Liliana Castellanos Alpaca is a fiber that is exquisite and sophisticated that allows your imagination to go free! I am careful to design with alpaca since it is a luxury product. My collection has a balance of modern and classic styles, which allows the collection to extend beyond a year or fashion season. This season, I am introducing leather and silks with alpaca and the results are amazing.
Claudio Aslan Sweaters, coats and afghans will always be the trend, but baby garments and items are also popular due to alpaca being lighter but warm, soft and gentle to the skin, and hand washable.
AC: What is the best quality of alpaca as a textile when you’re designing? Beatriz Canedo Patiño For the last twenty-six years, I have been designing in the finest of Suri and Baby
RIGHT: Frock style long alpaca jacket with silk applications and skirt in silk with pleats. Liliana Castellanos.
66 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
alpaca fabrics. I would never consider working in alpaca fabrics blended with synthetic materials as some textile companies are doing now in order to lower the costs.
Liliana Castellanos The lightness of the fabric, durability, softness and the natural shine of alpaca makes a seductive product.
Claudio Aslan Royal alpaca – the quality feels like cashmere, is a pleasure to work with, the yarn doesn’t split and it wears well.
AC: What can designers do with alpaca that they can’t do with other fibers? Beatriz Canedo Patiño I design complete Collections in the true French technical term of fashion, which includes: Daywear, Evening wear, Casual wear, Accessories and Brides in the Women’s Line. In the Men’s line, I design from Casualwear to very
OPPOSITE: Sun yellow cape with high, open funnel collar and buttons in Baby alpaca. Beatriz Cañedo Patino. LEFT: Long evening gown from Beatriz Cañedo Patino’s Autumn in Paris Collection, Autumn 2012 / Winter 2013. Designed in blue sapphire Baby alpaca combined with 100% silk in gauze and satin.
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Formal, including black tie wear.
Then to see the end result with the fabric is absolutely wonderful!
I decided to use alpaca since I value this noble material as oneof-a-kind. Additionally, alpaca can be used all year round since it is so light and soft. I feel lucky to be involved with a fabric which is environmentally friendly and that creates not only fashion but also a style of life.
Very versatile, can be used for knitting, weaving and felting garments or home projects, it won’t pill and has little static. There are many color choices, which is always a plus for designers and when knitted it becomes very textural, the stitches (like cables) look luscious and the finished design looks and feels expensive.
Claudio Aslan Alpaca drapes beautifully and unlike some natural fibers, alpaca is hand washable, hypoallergenic, very durable, blends well with other fibers and can be dyed or left natural.
AC: What do you like best about designing in alpaca? Beatriz Canedo Patiño The beautiful way that this noble fabric drapes. The softness, the natural sheen, the sensual touch.
Liliana Castellanos Creating a line with alpaca is wonderful since the process is from the “esquilado” (shearing) where the animal doesn’t suffer. LEFT: Liliana Castellanos poncho with handmade Telar collar and two large buttons in Baby alpaca.
AC: What is your most successful alpaca design or collection?
Tela, which is made with Suri alpaca and embroidered manually. I also have a cape with Suri alpaca which has all the edges embroidered with roses in silk, which is one of my favorites.
Claudio Aslan Nicky Epstein’s cross-cable pullover that was in Knitters Magazine Anniversary Issue, 2011.
AC: What other designers are doing good work in alpaca? Beatriz Canedo Patiño
It is indeed quite difficult for me to say which is my favorite Collection or design since every time that I start drawing a new Collection, the passion, the excitement of creating something new is still there after all these years. I truly do not think that I could continue creating in these luxurious and elegant fabrics if my love and preference for working with these amazing cloths suddenly ended.
I never meant to have my own companies, but when I started, no one else in the world was designing timeless Collections entirely in alpaca fabrics, therefore, I founded my own company in order to create designs exclusively in fine alpaca fabrics. The international press considers me as pioneer worldwide, in the design and manufacturing in Cameloid fabrics. Nowadays, there are many designers that are working with alpaca but the greatest challenge is to know how to work in alpaca.
Beatriz Canedo Patiño
I have many collections that gave me a lot of satisfaction and also some pieces, which have maintained themselves as best sellers. For example the “Dalmata” jacket made by hand on a
MaxMara and myself.
Claudio Aslan Nicky Epstein.
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 71
PERSPECTIVES - BREEDING
Don and Julie Skinner - Snowmass Alpacas Snowmass Alpacas has worked for over thirty years to scientifically breed the world’s finest alpacas. As a result, the reputation Snowmass has earned for their quality genetics reaches well beyond the borders of the United States. Today and in the future Snowmass’ goals are to dedicate more time and effort to alpaca textile development and to further advance the science and breeding of alpacas.
Al Cousill and Jude Anderson - Pucara International Al and Jude are breeders based in Oregon but with roots in Australia. Alan sat on the Aussie Australian Alpaca Association (AAA) National Committee, chaired both the National Show and Sale committee and National Seminar, sat on the National marketing, show, and import screening committee and is an ex-Western Region committee member. Jude is an accomplished fleece and halter judge with the AAA and the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association where she is a Senior Judge and judge trainer/instructor. She also certified at the IAJS school in Perú and has judged in Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and the UK, including National shows in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.
Rob and Joanna Stephens - RobAsia Alpacas Committed to raising high quality alpacas, our farm has grown to nearly 100 alpacas. Our breeding program has evolved into one of the best in the country using objective data as well as visual observations for each breeding decision, allowing us to improve our herd year after year. The Mission of RobAsia Alpaca Ranch is to breed and produce high quality alpacas with elite fiber traits. Our breeding stock will create value based on objective, measurable findings such as Histograms, skin biopsies, EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences) and fiber production. We also emphasize conformational soundness, disposition, ancestry, nurturing ability, progeny and show.
Paul and Jude Rylott - Melford Green Alpacas In the heart of rolling countryside made famous by the artists Gainsborough and Constable and an area once renowned for the quality of its wool, Melford Green have established one of the finest alpaca herds within Britain.
Kit Johnson - Silverstream Alpaca Stud Located near Christchurch in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand, Silverstream bred animals have won every major alpaca show in New Zealand. Through careful research and regular visits to Australian stud farms and alpaca shows, Silverstream have sourced some of the best alpaca genetics available. Kit is also President of the Alpaca Association of New Zealand, Inc.
72 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
AC: Where do you think the alpaca industry is now? Al Cousill and Jude Anderson Al: I see slowly, American industries becoming more discerning. When we first came over here and started working full time, I came in 2001 and Jude in 2002-3, there were these membership surveys by AOBA and it showed that most people who joined AOBA had no livestock experience or even experience of raising pets themselves. That sort of mentality pervaded the industry as a very undiscerning, immature membership in the industry. But what we’re seeing every year is not only the quality of the animals is improving, but people like Snowmass and other farms are being able to get the message across that genetics and scientific improvement of the species is really important. So hopefully we are evolving away from all the niches, all the fullPeruvian, the color, the whatever niches there are in the industry to scientific realization of the improvement of the breed. Jude: And I think it is also about the education of the breeders that we have. As Alan said, there is a lot of inexperience just purely within animal husbandry. What we need to do and what is happening now is people are learning about fiber and what needs to be produced and that
Future champion herdsires and elite dams enjoy some late season sun.
PERSPECTIVES - BREEDING
was why it was so important to have Alonso Burgos talking at the Snowmass Winners’ Circle Sale [February, 2012] about what it is the mills really, really want and what they don’t want. And I think that gave a lot of people a great take-home message: O.K., this is what we don’t want to breed and that is really, really important for people to understand. Al: Well, yeah and you’re seeing an evolution in the show ring, too, that is getting away from some of our earlier selection of the animals. The people who put the show rules together like Jude and Amanda and some of the people of AOBA in the higher levels, there is more of an awareness of the commercial reality of alpaca fiber and animals are judged in the show ring to a large degree on values that are appreciated by textile producers and that’s really important for us because the whole industry right now, to a degree is based on the show ring and the evaluation of animals by show ribbons which is not the total picture. But at least, when those animals are evaluated for their placings in line-ups now, it’s done to some scientific evaluation of the traits Jude and the other judges are looking for.
Kit Johnson There has been a loss of confidence caused initially by 74 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
the credit crunch in the U.S. and more recently financial issues with Greece and the E.U. Peoples’ capital worth in many cases has declined, job uncertainty has increased and available cash reserves have been depleted. There have also been a fair number of breeders who have exited the industry due to ill health, age or personal circumstances and this often leads to large numbers of animals being offered for sale which can cause concern within the industry. Often, these people were pioneers in the industry.
Paul and Jude Rylott Paul: In terms of where it is now, I still believe it is in its infancy but with potential to go up at a rapid rate. We were saying earlier on that in England, the use of alpaca, the fabrics, has quite a long history (the old story of Queen Victoria’s black alpaca coat). We’ve had people around the farm that have waxed lyrically about how they had used alpaca fiber in the sixties and seventies to make these beautiful coats and things and then it just sort of dropped off the radar. I’m convinced that we can get it back into the mainstream again. I think what we need to do is make sure we have the quality that is correct to position it at the level it needs to be.
Don and Julie Skinner The alpaca industry today is one step closer to uniting as a viable commercial livestock entity. There are now alpaca organizations and breeders all over the world. Europe is one of the most active new areas of development and growth. The U.S. is going through major growing pains as we adjust to knowing that the value in alpacas is ultimately directly related to their fleece. There are breeders who have not paid much attention to the importance of selective breeding for improving the textile values of their fleece but what’s popular or market trends for name brands and show winners and or just collectibility. Alpacas were once a novelty and easy to sell at such at high prices, making them a simple and good investment. There was a day you could sell an alpaca just because it was an alpaca. However, as the numbers of alpacas increases and with the troubled economy, there are fewer buyers willing to pay high prices for collectible backyard investments. The sale of alpacas as a huggable investment days, we think, are over. Breeding alpacas is a dedication to livestock farming. To be successful, you have to run this as a business and have specific goals that meet and reflect the industry goals overall. We are just now starting to get our larger breed organizations to do just this, ver-
sus being a marketing machine for the cute and collectible. Our show systems are also in flux of understanding the importance of textile values in our fleece and are adjusting their judging criteria to better reflect and reward the breeder for fine textile quality fleeces. We are now rewarding alpacas that best reflect this objective and so breeders are better directed to know what to breed for.
Rob and Joanna Stephens We believe there is a split taking place of those who want to produce better commercial fleeces and those who want to remain the same. The interest in quality fleece has definitely risen judging by the interest and questions we get regarding our scientific breeding program. People now want to understand how to measure the quality besides show ring wins. They want to use their fleeces to produce high quality fiber and they want to reduce waste. In any business that wants to improve, you have to start by measuring where you currently are, set a goal/vision for where you want to be and then take steps to improve and keep measuring along the way. It’s fun and exciting to watch the transformation in individual breeding programs as well as in the industry. We are really energized by what is happening and how we have positioned ourselves and our breeding program.
AC: Where do you think the alpaca industry should be five years from now?
the top-end with high margins for manufacturing them and selling them with profits for the breeders, it’s going to have to be white.
Al Cousill and Jude Anderson
Jude: We should be breeding animals that have gone down the path of what it is that processors really want. And I am not talking about small mills and hand weavers and hand spinners, I’m talking about large mills. So we should be making a concerted effort, in the whole of the national herd, to be breeding alpacas that are fine and uniform and uniform in their color so that we can eventually combine all the wonderful fiber that we’ve got to produce top quality, really high end garments that alpaca should be known for. They shouldn’t be known for clunky socks, they should be known for the high-end stuff. Al: There has to be an awareness in America that white is a really valuable color. Right now there is predominance and a preoccupation with color, and they look beautiful. Jude and I love them personally and we breed them in a commercial sense so we can sustain our endeavors to produce the best white animals we can. Because that’s the fiber of the future. As Alonso Burgos said [at the Snowmass Winners’ Circle Sale], and he’s got more experience than anyone, he’s a true expert; color is not going to hack it in the commercial world. If we’re looking for elite products,
More and more baby boomers are coming up to retirement age now and over the next ten years. The demand will return and as the E.U. recovers and confidence returns, so too will the demand for alpacas. We have to remember that the intrinsic value of alpacas has never changed. They are still just as appealing now as they ever were – it is just our perception of their financial value that has changed. In five years, the industry should be back on its feet and confidence should have returned. New entrants will be more street smart and better educated about alpacas and make more informed decisions.
Paul and Jude Rylott Jude: I think what we’re seeing now is that alpacas offer different things to different people according to what it is that they are looking for. Whether it be a wonderful animal to keep, to graze, or to take care of, whether it be a fleece-producing animal for their own home use . . . maybe they’re hand knitters or spinners. It’s fabulous to wear your pets. Or whether you want to produce a commodity product at the quality end, to dress the world. So, there’s different reasons for keeping alpacas and I think we Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 75
SOURCES: SOURCES t(SFJOFS 4DPUU16OEFSTUBOEJOH Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) Home - Virginia Cooperative &YUFOTJPO1VCMJDBUJPOTBOE Educational Resources - Home Virginia Cooperative Extension. Virginia State University, 1 May 2009. Web. 20 May 2012. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400804/400-804.html. t&WBOT /PSN BOE*BO8BUU&YQFDUFE Progeny Differences . . . EPDs For "MQBDBT$PMPSBEP"MQBDBT]"MQBDB *OGPSNBUJPO$PMPSBEP"MQBDBT +BO 2010. Web. 20 May 2012.http://www.alpaca.net/Alpaca_E PD.htm. t#SVNNFU 4IBVOB3&TUJNBUF Progeny Differences (EPD) â€“ A Useful 5PPMGPS)FSE*NQSPWFNFOU http://www.alpaca.net. Alpaca.net, n.d. Web. 20 May 2012. www.alpaca.net/PDF/EPD-a-usefultool-for-herd-improvement-43#SVNNFUQEG t"3*&1% IUUQXXXBMQBDBSFHJTUSZDPN"3* n.d. Web. 20 May 2012. www.alpacaregistry.com/resources/dy n/files/140977/_fn/Shear-3FQPSU*OTUSVDUJPOTQEG t)JDLT +BOJF&NCSZP5SBOTGFSBU $PPMBSPP"MQBDB4UVE$PPMBSPP Alpacas. Coolaroo Alpacas. Web. 20 May 2012. http://www.coolarooalpacas.com.au/.
Percent of Finenesss
Historically, breeders relied on their own welldeveloped senses of sight and touch to make breeding choices. Today, the alpaca industry uses advanced scientific techniques, several of which are outlined here. /PUFOPUBMMNFUIPETBSFVOJWFSTBMMZ accepted as viable. Some are newer than others and simply havenâ€™t gained a universal following. Others are questioned within the industry based on whether results are wholly accurate. The question of undue stress to the animal is also a concern.
Fiber Diameter (microns)
Fiber Analysis A histogram is a graphical display of numerical data related to measurement of fibers that help breeders evaluate each alpacaâ€™s fiber scientifically using set criteria: Average fiber diameter (AFD); Standard deviation (SD); Coefficient of variation (CV); Comfort Factor (CF); Curvature and minimum and maximum staple length. This is a time-trusted method that gives a readily understandable view of fiber in graph and numerical format.
Embryo Transfer A powerful herd improvement program, the basic idea of embryo transfer is to take a naturally mated donor femaleâ€™s embryo (usually from a highly valuable dam) and implant it into another female (of lesser quality or value) for incubation and nurture. Using hormones to induce superovulation and then flushing the embryo out of the biological mother and into the surrogate, this procedure improves the genetics of a herd the most quickly of any method.
Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) E Currently embraced by many livestock industries, the alpaca C industry is a relative newcomer to implementing this in technology. This statistical method involves calculating the te genetic value of an animal based on specific traits. The ge resulting EPD number represents the average amount of re change that will be expressed among the progeny of the ch animal. This technology assesses measurable data and uses an equations to predict an average outcome for a given eq animal as compared with similar animals. ani Collection methodology and Col accuracy of this program in acc the alpaca industry are still in debate. de
Follicular Skin Biopsies This sampling technique is believed by some to allow a breeder to analyze a genotype far more accurately than a phenotype. A skin biopsy is obtained by extracting a core of skin from a specific spot on the alpacaâ€™s side about the size of a pencil eraser (around 10mm or 0.393 inches). The fleece is shaved and a sharp circular punch for the purpose is pressed and twisted into the skin. The ratio of secondary to primary fibers (S/P) allows analysis of how many secondary fibers cluster near the primary follicle. The higher this ratio, the more secondary fibers are present. This speaks to density, which implies fineness and uniformity.
PERSPECTIVES - BREEDING
are now at a stage where those different reasons are becoming recognized but we have to sort through that and make sense of that and create the logistics behind whatever it is we want to go forward with. For us, it’s very much around high quality animals in terms of health, husbandry, conformation and fleece, which then leads to incredible quality and top quality fashion that we can enjoy wearing. We would like to think in the next five years it’s going to be at the top of fashion.
happens at shows will be significantly different. Tools/technology should be developed to assist judges to be more objective. In addition, I believe when a champion male or female comes out of the show ring and breeders are interested in purchasing breedings or stock they will be asking the owner about the champions E.P.D.s and production data and comparing it to their data for the best match. This is not some new idea, this is what happens in other livestock.
for quality of fine fleece. We need to have a strong culling of undesirable alpacas for fiber or food. To use females with undesirable genetics as recipients in embryo transfer (E.T.) programs. For undesirable males to be put into fiber herds and or to be harvested for alpaca meat. We have to increase the number of high quality, fine fleece genetics. We need to have an international reciprocity for exchange of quality genetics via valid DNA and screening so that we can improve the national herds.
Don and Julie Skinner
AC: What needs to happen to take the industry to the next level?
Rob and Joanna Stephens
It is our vision that we will be united in a global market for fine textiles that will be competitive with the cashmere and fine wool industries. Alpaca will be known as the finest livestock investment in the world in terms of delivery of the finest and most sustainable fiber and for the healthiest meat on the planet. We will have breeders with fiber herds and breeders with the production of the most valued genetics to keep the quality mark high and breeders who have them for their own fiber and food. We will have more direct milling options for large and small production of alpaca products. We will have reciprocity of genetic exchange with other countries for renewed genetic lines without flooding the market.
Rob and Joanna Stephens In addition to producing better fleeces, our vision of what 78 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Kit Johnson Education, education, education. People need to understand what is involved in alpaca farming, and to know that like any business, you get out what you put in. Too many people treat it like an investment. We need to heavily market the fibre as in the end, this is what our industry is all about. We all need to have a common message when someone asks “So how do I make money out of these animals?” That message needs to be detailed and believable but honest.
Don and Julie Skinner A united effort worldwide to bring alpacas to be known as the “fiber of the gods” and the most sustainable livestock on the planet. For breeders to begin breeding
Being less emotional and more scientific about breeding decisions, standardized data sets and benchmarking would be a great start for every farm to compare against. Some of this exists now but it could be expanded. E.T. would greatly increase the rate of improvement in the United States.
AC: What is the most beneficial thing happening in the industry right now to meet the future goals you just explained in the last question? Kit Johnson The recession has stopped the import of cheap animals for quick resale. It has also focused people’s attention on quality. The dollar is buying far more now and people are becoming choosy in what they buy. People are better informed.
Don and Julie Skinner International exchange of ideas and genetics. New publications like Alpaca Culture to share the venue of directives in genetic improvement. New textile ideas on the rise.
Rob and Joanna Stephens EPDs. This is a huge step, currently it may not be exactly what is needed but it will evolve as it has in other livestock industries. Historically, it takes about five years for breeders to embrace and accept.
AC: What advice would you give somebody just entering the industry/culture? Kit Johnson Go to shows, seminars, field days, conferences etc. and make yourself known. Too many people wait until they have 50 plus animals and then decide to try and sell their animals. If you are not known and respected, you cannot sell animals. By going to the above, you also get better educated about alpacas, about the quality of your alpacas relative to others in the industry and in how to price your animals.
Don and Julie Skinner Research the market not just in the U.S., but the world. Meet with as many breeders as you can to learn what direction you want to be involved in with your
breeding program. Get as much information on alpaca husbandry and Camelid health as possible.
Rob and Joanna Stephens Pick a breeder who can explain their breeding program, have measurable data and a vision of what they are breeding towards. Ignore the breeding programs that start by saying we have X number of color champions. Have a business or strategic plan.
AC: What is your role in the industry? Kit Johnson I am currently President of the Alpaca Association N.Z., Inc. and have been on National Council for seven years. I have also chaired the working group for our National Show for five years and am currently on the Marketing and Promotions subcommittee as well as the Registry working group. I live by what I preach.
Don and Julie Skinner
what we do when explaining our breeding program. We are very open about what we are doing to those who are open minded and interested.
AC: What is your main business goal? Kit Johnson Our main business goal is building up our operation, namely as a stud farm. Our main business has been the export of top quality animals to Europe and Scandinavia.
Paul and Jude Rylott Jude: I would say uniformity. So if we can get a common aim, a common picture of what quality is and of course there is a common picture if we talk to downstream fashion houses, the processors and so on. If we embrace the knowledge that they have, what they need, what makes quality in terms of microns, color and so on, we can take that and all aim toward the same goal and then we will all be able to be successful.
We are Camelid breeders of some 30 years and have dedicated our lives to genetic improvements in the alpaca. Itâ€™s our duty to share our knowledge and continue to forge a way for success for the alpaca industry at large.
Don and Julie Skinner
Rob and Joanna Stephens
We cannot narrow it down to one goal, this suggests it takes precedent over all others. We have many goals that are closely
Producing high quality fleece producing alpacas is a given. As far as a role, it is education; this is
As most anyone in business, of course to be successful. Meaning to have integrity with both breeding directives, sales and support of breeders and the industry.
Rob and Joanna Stephens
Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 79
PERSPECTIVES - BREEDING
related to each other. We can share our Mission Statement from our Strategic Plan: The Mission of RobAsia Alpaca Ranch is to breed and sell high quality alpacas that produce elite fiber. Our breeding stock will create value based on objective measurable findings such as histograms, skin biopsies, EPDs and fiber production. We also emphasize conformational soundness, disposition, ancestry, nurturing ability, progeny and show.
Jude: When we look at our young ones and we go ‘wow’ and it is so gorgeous and the fleece is so bright – those are the things that when alpaca is good, they just can’t be surpassed. And then of course, what do you want from that? You want more of it: density, staple length and the packaging of it neatly, staple and crimp so that you can use it more effectively. But the two things: brightness and handle.
AC: How do you use science to evaluate and influence your breeding program?
Don and Julie Skinner
Rob and Joanna Stephens We use each piece of information to objectively evaluate the genetic merits (strengths and weaknesses) of each alpaca, decide what traits need improving and match the breeding pair accordingly. As you see, show winnings do not enter into the equation, although judges’ comments about the evaluation are considered.
AC: What characteristics of the actual fiber are you looking for? Paul and Jude Rylott Paul: Our characteristics are producing fleeces that have uniformity, brightness and soft handle. Because if you want to sell something that’s going to be produced as a garment that just feels gorgeous, you’ve got to start there. 80 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Fineness first and foremost, consistency of fiber diameter, brightness, even character and staple length.
AC: Do you breed for something specific in Huacaya alpacas? Don and Julie Skinner This is quite a general question, but yes, first we breed for overall soundness in structure, then beautiful and attractive phenotype. Most importantly: fine, dense, bright fleece. The specifics are fine-tuned with color and consistency and specific genetic choices we make to meet these ends.
AC: What is the most important thing you do to push the industry forward on a daily basis? Kit Johnson To always put on a positive face and to talk positively ir-
respective of the current market. The media have a lot to answer for when it comes to talking the market into and out of recession. A positive attitude can spread, people relax and start to think about the things that are really important, for example, education, marketing and strategy.
Don and Julie Skinner Keep our herd healthy and in production of the finest alpacas we can produce and to have continual daily communication with other breeders worldwide.
Rob and Joanna Stephens Being honest and direct with our breeding program and the state of the industry to those who are interested in listening and reading information about us and the alpaca business.
AC: What would be the best way to unite the world alpaca industry? Rob and Joanna Stephens This is the million dollar question and we will not pretend to have the answer. Alpaca Culture is a good start because its focus is global. So far in the U.S., the system we have has kept us isolated. Fresh ideas and different perspectives are a way to spark innovation and you just never know where this will come from.
What should the breeding goals be for the industry overall? Don and Julie Skinner Most alpaca breed organizations across the globe have goals to improve the breed, which are reflected in their show systems. Many breed organizations have standards, which are general but important in terms of breeding for soundness and lack of genetic defects or harmful anomalies. The goals should be directed to bring our herds of alpacas to the level of cashmere and fine wool so that we can compete on a global scale with these fibers and textiles. Alpaca is one of the best fibers over and above any other natural fiber, so if we can bring the alpaca herds of the world to the level of superior fineness, alpaca would be one of the most sought-after fibers in the world.
good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” At RobAsia, we are not play-
ing for where the alpaca industry is, we are playing for where it is going to be!
BELOW: Suri alpacas with very long staple length and wonderful luster. Photo courtesy Pucara International
AC: Please add any other comments about the alpaca industry that you’d like to express. Rob and Joanna Stephens It’s an exciting time in the alpaca industry, we are at the crest of great things for alpacas if we make good decisions. Marketing the fleece because it truly is the premier natural fiber and marketing the low environmental impact of alpacas will help every breeder worldwide. In a famous quote, Wayne Gretzky said, ”A Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 81
E N T E R P R I S E S
Quechua Enterprises is the world's finest collection of Elite breeding studs and the only tightly held genetic compilation of Snowmass Quechua sons available in the world. These genetics are beyond any present model of what an Elite breeding Alpaca Stud should possess. The density and low micron of these studs is beyond refute and the key to bringing alpaca fleece to new levels of excellence. Quechua Enterprises is dedicated to producing the world's most acclaimed elite fiber herds while working hand in hand with the International community to help advance the science in breeding techniques, elite fiber collections and the finest textile production. Quechua Enterprises is about to present the first highest valued bales of ROYAL alpaca ever baled in the U.S. It is sure to be the first of this quality obtainable globally. The vision of Quechua Enterprises is in "Royal Alpaca" and this Elite collection of QE studs are the key genetic elements leading the way.
Our journey started in 2006, when we realized that mowing four acres of high quality pasture with a Ford 1520 tractor pulling a P.T.O. finish mower was both time-consuming and not very green. So, after much research, my daughter and I decided that alpacas were the correct livestock to have on our farm. Gentle on the pastures, excellent, compostable poo and amazing fiber. They were a bit pricey and we were unsure as to what our return on investment
would be, but we believed that the future was breeding for improving alpaca for sound conformation and uniform, fine fiber. After building a large inventory of skeins of yarn, we began to realize that we had to decide if we wanted to continually invest in alpacas and a growing inventory that was becoming harder to sell and taking up needed funds. While faced with this reality, we also were seeing a dramatic improvement in our fleeces. As our fleeces became finer, we also noted a further increase in uniformity, with the primary and secondary fibers becoming nearly
identical in many of our alpacas. With so many truly Royal fleeces, we were faced with how to improve our herd further to develop commercial fiber. So, we added better genetics. Thank you Snowmass Alpacas!
The Dilemma of 2009 We found that after shearing we had almost 30 lbs. of 18-micron fiber that our excellent local mini mill could barely process into roving. So, our research began to find the best processing path for 15 to 20.9-micron alpaca fiber.
BELOW: Novaâ€™s Tutankhamun of Cloud Hollow (Timoteo Great Grandson)
We began to learn about the worsted, semiworsted, woolen and hand spinning processing paths and differing yarn weights and end products. We had noticed that sweaters and hats made from the most common Semi-Worsted skeins from the mini mills were sport weight and lace weight, which tended to make the garments a bit too warm. We found that to achieve spinning the fiber into fine threads and yarns, the worsted system of processing into TOP was the way to go. So we decided to invest in the creation of the Maine Top Mill where we will make the Finest. Quality. Top. So our alpacas can become truly sustainable livestock.
and Breed Organizations
Assessment, A t O Organization, i ti Cooperation C ti and dU Unity Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead, (1901 - 1978)
When like-minded people form groups, great things can happen. In the alpaca world, many entities have been organized to unite people in support of alpacas by visionaries who saw that methodical order and deliberate actions could move the industry forward more quickly and easily. Alpaca breed organizations exist as standalone entities or often, in conjunction with registries. Breed organizations offer support and
guidance in promoting the alpaca as an animal and its fiber as a valuable resource. In addition, they provide assistance in many essential areas, including education and promotion in the public realm, advice on the care and health of alpacas and communications to support the industry as a whole. Early adopters of alpaca science became convinced that registries with formal, recorded pedigrees would help the industry move forward and flourish. In the United States, the movement toward a registry began as early as 1987. (See The First Export of Alpacas from South America and the Journey Toward Registries, page 26.) In other countries, alpaca registries were born in different ways under similar circumstances.
LEFT: DNA markers show up like ghosts on a computer screen. These markers are very unique from bloodline to bloodline and act as accurate tools to determine lineage. One of the main purposes of a breed registry is to help maintain the purity of the breed. Many registries use blood DNA analysis to determine whether or not an alpacaâ€™s suspected lineage is accurate or not. Some registries require that both parents be tested while others require only one parent. Verifying lineage through DNA analysis plays a vital role in determining the value of animals here in the United States and abroad.
88 | Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012
any countries still lack a formal registry altogether or do not see a need for one. Some groups register all camelids while others accept only alpacas or combinations of camelids. Certain organizations register Huacayas and Suris and differentiate between them while others simply register alpacas. Some are closed, meaning no additional animals can be added to the rolls unless they are the offspring of two animals already registered by the group. If importation is allowed, it is handled quite differently by each registry. Many of these differences can be attributed to cultural preferences. Fees vary for different services within each registry, as well. Databases are often but not always maintained and the information contained within them differs widely. Variables can also be a direct result of a registry’s maturity or even socioeconomic factors. Some maintain breed standards that dictate the exact characteristics an animal must have to be a member of the group. Others feel this is exclusionary. Some groups are focused on scientific research and genetic technology. Others make it their business to educate as many people as possible about alpacas through networking and teaching. Still others devote their time and energy to sub groups of alpacas or specialty interests. Individuals and alliances may use print vehicles or the Internet to promote alpacas. While the following groups have many individual goals, each group uses its unique talents and passions to have as many positive interactions with alpacas and all things alpaca as they can. Evolution and change is inevitable as the industry grows, especially within the realm of registries and breed organizations, which are innately complex and dynamic. The common thread is an abiding and sincere love for the alpaca and a deep dedication to increasing human interaction with them. Alpaca Culture asked each group an identical, detailed series of questions about how their breed organizations, registries and other groups operate. The inquiries themselves were formulated with the help of alpaca experts. While language differences sometimes put up roadblocks, the answers we were able to get at press time appear below. Other
90 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
information was derived from official web sites and sometimes deduced from translations.
• Do you register any other camelids besides alpacas? • Do you register both Huacaya and Suri alpacas? • Are they in separate categories? What do you do with those that have both Huacaya and Suri parentage? • Do you issue certificates? • Do members retain specific breeder identifiers? • Is the registry independent of any breeder association? • Is your registry currently closed, open or semi-closed? • Can animals still be imported? What does that involve? • Do you require DNA certification for new registrants? • Do you verify sires? • Do you verify dams? • What DNA collection method do you use? • Do you maintain a database and keep lists of animals owned or sold by members? • What support do you offer to the members? • What is the most important mission of your registry? • What sets your registry apart from others in the Industry? • Does your registry acknowledge other alpacas from other registries, and or do you have reciprocity with any other registries? • What is your fee schedule?
Australian Alpaca Association (AAA) & (IAR) Registry www.alpaca.asn.au
The Australian Alpaca Association Ltd. represents owners at all levels and is the collective voice of over 2,000 members in all States and Territories. The Association is the primary resource for breeding and promoting alpacas providing members with the tools, information and support they need to enjoy all the benefits associated with owning alpacas. The AAA does maintain a breed standard. Many levels of membership to the group are offered. Benefits include: • International Alpaca Register - register your animals in the International Alpaca Register to maximise the value of your investment. • Genetic Improvement Programs - maximise your breeding and marketing outcomes through the Across-herd Genetic Evaluation (AGE) Service. • Q-Alpaca Program - monitor and manage the health of your herd. • AAA accredited education seminars and workshops.
• National and Regional shows - opportunity to exhibit and market your alpacas. • Alpacas Australia Magazine and newsletter subscriptions. • Industry accreditation. • Access to advertising opportunities in AAA publications. • Access to the Members Section of the AAA web site containing a wealth of information and industry based forums. • A dedicated full time team of Association support staff to address your alpaca needs. • Breeder support network (National and Regional). • Value adding products. • Eligibility to use registered ‘Australian Alpaca’ trademark (conditions apply). • The opportunity to foster friendships with other alpaca owners. • The opportunity to apply for AAA sponsored scholarships (conditions apply). • Industry development and promotion - AAA is the voice for the industry to promote alpaca breeders’ interests to governments, associated industries and media in Australia and around the world. The AAA is committed to representation in Animal Health Australia (AHA) initiatives including biosecurity and animal health and welfare programs. Likewise the AAA is working closely with State and Federal Government bodies to finalise plans for the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for Alpacas and Llamas, implementation of which is anticipated in mid 2012. The AAA contributes substantially to research and development projects through its financial support of the Rural Industries and Research Development Corporation (RIRDC).
Lama and Alpaka Register www.lamas.at
Llama and Alpaca Register Austria was founded in 1994. Its objectives include: • To facilitate the distribution of domestic forms of small South American camelids. • Create and maintain a nationwide registry and stud book. • Prevent the keeping of pure camelids for slaughter. • Provide advice to association members in all aspects of keeping and breeding camelids. • Organize seminars, exhibitions and marketing events.
Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association and Registry (CLAA) www.claacanada.com
The Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association was formed in 1987 and incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada in 1989. Only one breed association per breed is incorporated under this act and given authority to represent that specific breed. They have sole authority to represent a breed and manage a public registry for the breed, to issue registration certificates, to establish breed standards and rules of eligibility for registration and define what is a purebred. The breed association or Registry in Canada is responsible for these activities with regard to alpacas and llamas in the Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association. Organized as a dual-purpose group, the Canadian Breed Organization is part of the Canadian Breed Registry and vice versa. CLAA Mission statement: The CLAA is responsible for the maintenance and governance of an accurate and verifiable registry for llamas and alpacas. It will also, in conjunction with Alpaca Canada and Llama Canada, help develop the industry to its full potential by providing members of the Association with the breed improvement tools and education necessary for quantifiable individual and national herd improvement. According to Lori May, CLAA Executive Administrator, CLAA registers llamas and alpacas and divides the alpacas into Huacaya-fleeced and Suri-fleeced alpacas. They are distinguished by fleece types and different fibre characteristics as provided in the CLAA Alpaca Breed Standards. Parents must be of the same fleece type. CLAA issues certificates of registration. All owners of registered alpacas are assigned an identification number, and breeders must have a registered herd identifier for use as a prefix or suffix when naming an alpaca. The CLAA defines “breeder” as the owner of the dam at time of conception. The CLAA is independent of a breed organization but does have a relationship with Alpaca Canada, a national association of alpaca breeders, May says. The CLAA registry closed to foundation stock in December 31, 2000. The Association currently allows foreign alpacas to be recorded. These alpacas have no status in the Canadian Alpaca Herd Book, but if bred to a CLAA Purebred or Foundation Stock alpaca its offspring is eligible for registration as a 50% Purebred. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates the importation of all livestock into Canada and its protocols must be followed in order to import alpacas. Among other things, the protocols require quarantine in the Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 91
country of origin and quarantine upon arrival in Canada. All alpacas must be micro chipped and DNA parent verified prior to registration. Both sires and dams are verified. To collect DNA, breeders may use whole blood; blood collected on FTA micro cards and hair follicle samples. Up until January 1, 2012, the CLAA used the administration services of the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation to maintain its registry records in an electronic database. Since the first of this year, the Association is using a new program specifically developed for the CLAA. The CLAA membership has recently accepted a bylaw to allow for recognition of foreign registries. This would allow alpacas from qualified registries to apply for registration in the Canadian Alpaca Herd Book. Members can expect: free access to the Canadian Alpaca Herd Book, a genetic evaluation program, promotional literature, support in promotion of the alpaca industry, liaison with the federal government on import/ export issues, on-line registry transaction available soon, monthly newsletter to members, full time office support. In addition, the CLAA values its rules of registration, free access to the Canadian Alpaca Herd Book, and providing bi-lingual information. The Canadian registry does have a breed standard, which is included in the bylaws governing the registration of alpacas. They are also available on the CLAA web site, as is a fee schedule.
Alpaca Canada www.alpacainfo.ca
Alpaca Canada represents the interests and evolving needs of Alpaca Canada members and promotes the development of a viable, sustainable and integrated Canadian alpaca industry. As of 2006, Alpaca Canada is the official voice of the Alpaca industry in Canada. An alpaca specific Division of the CLAA (Canada Llama & Alpaca Association), “Alpaca Canada” will provide a strong nucleus from which all alpaca related industries can spring forth and flourish. Determined to represent the needs of all, members can expect support through promotion, educational opportunities and research. The quality of Canada’s alpacas is outstanding and is backed by the strength of their International registry. The momentum in the growth of their fibre industry is escalating. With hard earned experience and the growth of the national herd, new breeders now have opportunities and support not previously available. Alpaca Canada’s vision is to unite the membership nationwide, draw on the excellence and knowledge available and continue the amazing growth in the industry. 92 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Alpaca Breeders of Finland www.alpakkakasvattajat.fi
Alpaca Breeders of Finland was founded in 2006 to gather together present and future breeders who are interested in developing alpacas and their fleeces further. The Association’s aim is to promote serious alpaca breeding in Finland by providing the members with training and information on keeping and husbandry of alpacas, health, breeding and fibre production. It is open to co-operation with local and foreign parties and associations.
Alpagas et Lamas de France & Registry (l’AFLA) www.alpagas-lamas-france.info
The French Association of Llamas and Alpacas (AFLA) was born in 2010 in a merger of two existing associations in France: “Alpacas and Llamas in France” (ALF) and “French Association of Small Camelids” (PSAC), both created by breeders and owners of llamas and alpacas, the first in 1986 and the second in 1994. Today, AFLA has over 200 members (amateur and professional). The purpose of this group is to pool the efforts of each to the promotion and enhancement of llamas and alpacas in France and to share experiences and goals of all. Both associations have shows organized during which European breeders of llamas and alpacas show their pets in various competitions: patterns and gaits, competition barriers or hiking. These gatherings also provide a communication and international exchange of ideas and achievements. In addition, the Association sends a quarterly magazine to all its members: “Llamas and Alpacas”. It contains information about the life of the Association, the minutes of the Boards of Directors, articles on breeding, wool, a corner veto, classified ads, the official administrative decisions, and more. Many veterinarians are part of the Association and exchange experiences and skills for rendering quality service to farmers. Fees for services can be found online.
Alpaka Zucht Verband Deutschland e.V. & Registry (AZVD) www.alpaka.info The German Alpaca Association AZVD (Alpaka Zucht Verband Deutschland e.V) would like to inform and invite all people to actively support their mission
to bring Alpaca Breeding to a higher level. Their web site offers the following information:
• All regular info about AZVD. • General information about keeping, maintaining and breeding alpacas according to German national rules and laws. • The latest information on events like shows, education, training sessions, screenings, etc. • Information on the herd book. • Information on the breeding book. • Articles, news and links. • An online forum. Full information is available for members only. Members are defined as registered users of the website. In the near future, AZVD will publish their herd and breeding book results. These features are a bit more restrictive: registered users will receive only general information about registered alpacas including bloodlines, offspring and their listings within the respective books. Members are granted access to the majority of information available. The German registry only includes alpacas and both Huacaya and Suris are registered, though they are not separated. They also register crossbreeds, but they are not allowed in the national herd screening program, nor the Herdbook and Elite Breeding Book. Germany does not want or encourage cross breedings. They issue “passports,” a sort of thirty-page certificate. Every member carries a herd code that is cross-referenced with other associations within continental Europe. The importance of this is that an animal carries the Herd Code of the Breeder, which would be the owner of the dam at time of mating. So, even if you buy a pregnant female, the offspring would get the seller’s herd code. The registry is not separate from the breed association. In fact, Mike Herrling, Creator of the AZVDs Herdand Elitebook and Advance Screening System and Screening Supervisor of the AZVD BoD says, “The registry is the vital core of our association.” The German registry is fully open. Animals can be imported, but all import papers need to be presented as well as the original papers. The German registry verifies pedigree only from the U.S. (A.R.I.) and Canada (CLAA). Since no other registry does parental testing aside from taking the DNA footprint, Germany enters the pedigree data, but specifically mentions it as non-verifiable. Germany requires DNA and parental testing for all animals and verifies both sires and dams. DNA collection is done with blood on a collection paper, as is mandatory in all animal registries in Germany. To track the whereabouts of all animals, a database is maintained, listing animals owned or sold by members. Support to members includes: training, screening to identify phenotype documentation, tracking genotype for breeding decisions and E.P.D., shows and mar-
keting support. Herrling says the most important mission of the group is the “registry, screening and E.P.D.s.” When asked what sets the German registry apart from others, he continues, “In no other registry you will find this combination: all animals are DNA registered and parental verified plus a screening system for national herds as a tool for an Elite Book system with Estimated Progeny Difference (which data, not like in the A.R.I., is collected by independent and objective screener personnel, not by the owner).” Herrling clarifies: “Germany does accept all animals, but verifies only those, with “the highest possible standard, which can only be DNA plus parental testing. Remember, a lot of registries take DNA samples, like Australia and New Zealand, but do not test for the parents, which they can’t, because females are never tested. Also remember: DNA always derives from two parents. The sires introduce only 50%. Just testing the males will not do any good.” Fees are broken down as follows: Membership annual: 60 EURs, Animal registration: 75 EURs, Animal screening: 80 EURs, Afterwards: annual animal fee 2 EURs. Herrling explains the German breed standard, “Our screening protocol is the breed standard which specifically calls for all measurable things that are scientifically proven. We do not enhance any “specific look” (Peruvian head or other artificial criteria) to narrow the broad spectrum in our DNA pool. We do not declare show standards to breed standards; because they are too narrow-minded and emphasize looks instead of science. I cannot give you all the individual items we look for, since there are more than 250 individual points to look at, including undesirable traits.” The registry’s main objectives include elimination of all signs of hybridization with llamas, elimination of bad body conformation and lowering all micron-related fibre criteria while increasing density in Huacaya and luster in Suri. Herrling: “please reference Eric Hoffman’s The Complete Alpaca Book. He described the initial set of criteria, which is still the foundation of our screening system and therefore, breed standard. The only difference is: we go for 50% body and 50% fibre, instead of 55 body and 45% fibre as in the original concept.”
Italian Association of Alpaca Owners & Registry (ITALPACA) www.italpaca.com ITALPACA was established January 2001 by a handful of pioneer breeders to assist this fledgling industry’s growth in Italy. As of Summer 2001, ITALPACA has established a National Registry based on high species standards; an Insurance Policy specifically designed for Alpaca breeders and is
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BY COUNTRY 168,000 150,000 120,000
SOURCES: t7FMUKFOT /JDL5IF"MQBDB *OEVTUSZ5BMDB"MQBDBT/JDL 7FMUKFOT 8FC.BZ t%BWJT -JOEB, 0XOFS BOE "MQBDBDPN--$ "MQBDBDPN8PSMEhT 1SFNJFS"MQBDB3FTPVSDF BOE.BSLFUQMBDF "MQBDBDPN8PSMEhT 1SFNJFS"MQBDB3FTPVSDF BOE.BSLFUQMBDF "MQBDBDPN +BO 8FC.BZ t"MQBDBĂśCFS8JLJQFEJB UIF GSFFFODZDMPQFEJB 8JLJQFEJB UIFGSFF FODZDMPQFEJB8JLJQFEJB "QS8FC.BZ t5IF)JTUPSZPG"MQBDBT "MQBDBTJOUIF6,GSPN1VSF "MQBDBT/Q +BO 8FC.BZ t"MQBDB8PSME"MQBDB 3FHJTUSZ *OD/Q OE8FC .BZ t4BGFMZ .JLF5IF"MQBDB .BSLFU*O5IF:FBS /PSUIXFTU"MQBDBT"MQBDB *OGPSNBUJPO"MQBDBGPS4BMF /Q OE8FC.BZ t-JTUPGDPVOUSJFTCZ QPQVMBUJPO8JLJQFEJB UIF GSFFFODZDMPQFEJB 8JLJQFEJB UIFGSFF FODZDMPQFEJB8JLJQFEJB OE 8FC.BZ
Huacaya: lofty, fluffy, soft, dense fiber grows perpendicular to the skin Suri: silky pencil-like locks with curl and luster that hang down from the body
PerĂş: 12 Bolivia: 70 Australia: 191 Chile: 232 New Zealand: 443 Canada: 1,289 United States: 1,866 England: 2,490 Germany: 11,694 * numbers are rounded up
PerĂş, Bolivia and Chile are home to 90%+ of all alpacas
of the total world alpaca population are Suris
"MMOVNCFSTBSFFTUJNBUFT CBTFEPOTFWFSBMTPVSDFT SFTFBSDIFE.BZ
27,000 25,000 0 14,000 7,00 00 7,000
France Finland Italy Norway Switzerland South Africa Spain
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Huacaya and Suri (the black animal here) alpacas are both domesticated from the South American vicuĂąa.
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organizing a wool co-operative for the transformation and resale of alpaca fiber. ITALPACA describes itself as a small association, but they are proud to be starting with high standards for the quality of animals bred in their country and are excited to have established, from the onset of their market development, a registry that is implementing strict quality control over the alpacas accepted in the Italian National Registry (R.N.A.). They are delighted to have joined the growing international community of alpaca breeders’ associations and look forward to working with everyone interested in the growth of this sector and the welfare of these animals.
Alpaca Association of New Zealand (AANZ) & (IAR) Registry www.alpaca.org.nz
Alpaca Association New Zealand is growing and provides its members with support information about alpacas, alpaca fibre and alpaca farming. AANZ was formed in 2001 from ALANZ (Alpaca and Llama Association) when the diverging paths of alpaca and llama called for individual breed societies. There are now over 700 members and 14,000 registered alpaca in New Zealand. The alpaca industry is enjoying healthy, sustainable growth and delivering many different aspects to different people within the alpaca community; from lifestyle and investment options to alpaca related events, and fibre products. The current membership is spread throughout New Zealand and includes farmers, lifestyle block owners and city folk looking for an alternative lifestyle. The rare and absolutely adorable alpaca has captured the hearts of thousands of New Zealanders enSuring a healthy and vibrant organisation. The International Alpaca Registry (I.A.R.) is a comprehensive listing of every registered alpaca in New Zealand and Australia. Information that is available includes: Alpaca Name, Pedigree, Colour, Type, Breeder, Progeny, Date of Birth, Sex, Current Owner, Identification and IAR Numbers. Benefits of Membership: • A comprehensive information pack covering all aspects of owning and breeding alpacas. • Three A4 colour alpaca magazines posted April, August and December. • A 16 page, colour tabloid - extra copies available for clients. • Ability to register your animals on an international database. Prospective purchasers will be comforted by the fact that the animals are registered. • An invitation to join the voluntary Tb scheme. • A membership directory of all financial members throughout New Zealand.
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• An invitation to advertise and promote your business or farm on the Alpaca Association New Zealand website. • An invitation to attend workshops, shows and fielddays organised through the Association. • An invitation to attend educational workshops on fleece, health issues, showing, birthing, shearing and many other issues of interest. • An invitation to attend the Association’s annual conference - overseas guest speakers are normally invited. • An invitation to nominate animals for showing at the A & P shows throughout New Zealand. • Finally and probably most importantly - access to knowledge. There is a real wealth of knowledge within the industry - by joining the association you will be better informed, make many new friends and become passionate about your animals.
Norwegian Alpaca Society Norwegian Alpaca Breeders Association & Registry (NABA) Den Norske Alpakkaforening www.alpacasofnorway.no
It’s been several years since NA.B.A.’s first import of 15 alpacas arrived from Chile on New Year’s Eve. It was the first such import to Norway. Since then, Alpacas of Norway has imported 70 alpacas from various countries through five shipments. The most recent import was the winter of 2009. Together with Tim Hey from Inca Alpaca in England, NABA travelled to New Zealand to select 25 solid black and solid white alpacas for breeders here in Norway. In September that same year, they were released from a nearly eight month long quarantine. When Alpacas of Norway was established, the objective was to establish a new niche industry within Norwegian agriculture. It was and still remains their long-term goal.
Norsk Alpaca Breeders Association Norwegian Alpaca Breeders Association
Today there are 24 alpaca enthusiasts organised by Norwegian Alpaca Breeders Association (NABA). In 2010 breeders will be running over 200 alpacas in Norway. NABA has also established a Norwegian alpaca register where alpacas will be recorded. In 2010, NABA organized its first alpaca show.
Norsk Alpakka www.norskalpakka.no
Norsk Alpakka is a partnership established to develop, produce and sell alpaca products made from Norwegian alpaca fiber.
The Internacional Alpaca Association is a private-sector association with nonprofit purposes. The IAA brings together companies and individual breeders involved in the production and commercialization of fiber from alpacas, llamas, and other South American camelidae and their hybrids. The IAA was founded in 1984 to promote, advance and safeguard the interest of members and their products manufactured from alpaca. One of the main concerns of the IAA and its associated committees is to ensure the maintenance of the highest quality standards identified with this luxurious natural fibre. Objectives: • Encourage the higher consumption of fiber from alpacas, llamas, and other South American camelidae and their hybrids; promote the image of the fiber and its manufactures products. • Promote all actions that improve the breeding, growth, and quality of the animals. Register the “Alpaca” and “Huarizo” trademarks and create standards that users of flbers must follow in order to use the trademarks on their products, be it in slivers, tops, woven pieces, or clothing. • Supervise and promote the use of our trademarks to achieve international recognition, market our noble fibers worldwide, and educate consumers about the correct use of our trademarks.
The SA Alpaca Breeders’ Club was inaugurated in 2001 and was promulgated to a Society in late 2007. The Society is registered under SA Stud Book and Livestock Improvement Association. Alpacas are therefore a registered breed in South Africa. The Society promotes the breed in SA, and is the controlling body for maintaining minimum breed standards and genetic improvement. One has to be a member of the Society to register stud alpacas. The Society is also a forum for the dissemination of information, arranging seminars and, in the future, a show circuit. The objectives of the Alpaca Society are: • To encourage and promote the breeding of Alpacas in the Territory and the improvement of their genetic production. • To maintain unimpaired the purity of the alpaca breed in the Territory and promote the interests of the breed and their fibre-related by-products. • To encourage the preservation and development of the breed by sound selection in accordance with the acceptance of a “Minimum Breed Standard“ based on performance testing records and visual appraisal for genetic defects, conformation and fibre requirements. • To maintain a Code of Conduct for members on the sale and marketing of their animals. • To safeguard and advance the common interests of breeders in the Territory, and generally to give effect to the objectives contemplated by the Act.
International Alpaca Association (IAA) www.aia.org.pe
The IAA promotes relationships between new members in areas of production, processing, aid commercialization of alpaca, llama, and other South American camelidae and hybrid fibers. Membership of the IAA is open to alpaca and llama breeders and all manufacturers, merchants and retailers who use alpaca in the following processes and products: • Trading in raw and scoured alpaca fiber • Combing and spinning • Hand and machine knitting and knitted garments • Women’s wear fabrics, etc. • Men’s wear fabrics • Blankets • Home textiles and furnishings Annual License Fee for manufacturers, merchants and retailers: US$1,000. Annual Fee for alpaca and llama breeders: US$ 200 A prospective candidate for IAA membership must be presented by a licensed member and approved prior to election by the Marketing Committee with subsequent approval by the IAA Council. It is not required for breeders.
South Africa Alpaca Breeding Society www.alpacasociety.co.za
Socedad Espanola de Alpacas & Regisry (SEDA) www.seda-org.es The Society is dedicated to the welfare of alpacas and the education of their owners in Spain and to promote the alpaca as a sustainable industry within Spain by helping members as appropriate. Objectives: to ensure that the resources of the membership are used effectively to meet the Society’s objectives. To create, and manage an alpaca registry which is efficient, viable and a permanent resource for the Society and is recognised worldwide. To establish a minimum standard for screening imported alpacas to protect members and to ensure constant improvement in the Spanish National herd. To create an efficient welfare network of vets and breeders which will act in
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(A) = Adenine (T) = Thymine (C) = Cytosine (G) = Guanine In DNA, (A) always pairs with (T) and (C) pairs with (G). The amount of (A) is equal to the amount of (T), as are (C) and (G).
Chromosomes are located in the cellâ€™s nucleus.
Hydrogen bonds hold the bases together. The sides of the DNA ladder are made of sugars and phosphate e atoms.
DNA strands make up up the chromosome.
In blood samples, DNA is found in white blood cells. Red blood cells do not have a nucleus and therefore do not contain DNA.
This area of DNA sequence q (or the marker) is compared between the parent and the cria to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to remove the parent as a possible candidate or to strengthen the possibility of a relationship.
What is DNA? At its most basic level, the acronym DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the hereditary material in organisms. It consists of two long nucleotide chains in the shape of a double helix joined by hydrogen bonds between complementary bases Adenine and Thymine or Cytosine and Guanine. In humans and animals, they are combined differently to make us who we are. The Genetics Home Reference web site explains, â€œThe order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in wh which letters of the alphabet appear in a cer r certain order to form words and sentences.â€? In n Information in DNA is stored as a code that dic c dictates each person or animalâ€™s particular traits. traits.
Why is DNA Important Imp p for the Alpaca Industry? Industrr Parental verification verificatti is an extremely iimportant mportant tool fo o serious alpaca for b reeders. When n parentage can be breeders. p roven, regist r work as they proven, registries w ere intende e to, tracking were intended p edigrees and a lineages. When pedigrees registriess are reliable, the indust r creates its own industry histo o as it becomes history or rg organized, moves fo o forward and has a future. DNA analysis cca can also be used to u uncover defects and avo i continuation of avoid bad genes or inherited diseases. Because some alpacas appear normal but are carrying harmful or undesired characteristics, DNA can reveal what the naked eye cannot.
How Do Scientists Use DNA to Prove Parentage? GenomNZ.com explains it well: â€œPedigree testing works on the knowledge that every offspring inherits half their genetic information (genes) from their sire and half from their dam. A DNA profile is made up of a panel of highly informative microsatellite markers. These markers are regions of DNA that have a wide variation in length between individuals. By taking a â€˜snapshotâ€™ of the offspringâ€™s DNA at these markers (the DNA profile), we can compare it with the DNA profiles of the parents. If a variation of one of these markers (genotype) is present in the offspring but absent in the parents then they cannot be the true parents and they are said to be â€˜excludedâ€™.â€? SOURCES: tâ€œWhat is DNA? - Genetics Home Reference.â€? Genetics Home Reference - Your guide to understanding genetic conditions. National Library of Medicine, 7 May 2012. Web. 12 May 2012. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/dna. ti%/"8JLJQFEJB UIFGSFFFODZDMPQFEJBw8JLJQFEJB UIFGSFF encyclopedia. N.p., 12 May 2012. Web. 12 May 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA. t$SBWFO 1BUSJDJB"i.BQQJOHUIF"MQBDB(FOPNFw"MQBDB Research Foundation. Alpaca Research Foundation. Web. 12 May 2012. http://www.alpacaresearchfoundation.org. ti1BSFOUBHF"OBMZTJTw(FOPNO[DPN8FC.BZ http://www.genomnz.co.nz. t8PPE *OHSJEi"MQBDB3FTFBSDI'PVOEBUJPO*OHSJE8PPE Interviews Warren E. Johnson, PhD.â€? Alpaca Research Foundation. Version Herd Sire 2004. Alpacas Magazine, 2004. Web. 14 May 2012. http://www.alpacaresearchfoundation.org. t$SBWFO 1I% 1BUSJDJBi"MQBDB(FOPNF1SPKFDUw http://www.alpacaresearchfoundation.org. Alpacas Magazine, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 14 May 2012. http://www.alpacaresearchfoundation t.FSSJXFUIFS 1I% %"OESFXi5IF"MQBDB(FOPNF1SPKFDUw AlpacaStreet - AlpacaStreet.com - Alpacas for Sale, Huacaya and Suri Farms & Ranches, Breeders of Black, Grey and Accoyo Alpacas. AlpacaStreet.com, n.d. Web. 14 May 2012. http://alpacastreet.com/articles/187/alpacas-for-sale-genome-pr oject-sc-3423/. ti(FOPNFT]7JDVHOBQBDPT]5IF(FOPNF*OTUJUVUFBU8BTIJOHUPO 6OJWFSTJUZw(FOPNJDT3FTFBSDI]5(*]5IF(FOPNF*OTUJUVUFBU Washington University. The Genome Institute, 14 May 2012. Web. 14 May 2012. http://genome.wustl.edu/genomes/view/vicugna_pacos.
emergency, day to day, and as an educational resource for the membership and the protection of the alpaca in Spain. To organise shows and competitions throughout Spain to help members promote their businesses. To create a pool of qualified and experienced alpaca judges and to create show rules compatible with the rest of Europe. To create an accessible, informative resource in basic alpaca knowledge, husbandry and welfare accessible to all members and the general public. To promote and encourage alpaca owners in their regions to organise themselves as self help groups to share resource, information and experience and to maximise the benefits available from the Society. To encourage all members to participate in any way they can in all the activities of the Society. To liaise with and lobby government, local, regional, national and European groups, acting as the mouthpiece of the alpaca industry to ensure that alpacas are properly recognised and that their welfare needs are understood. The Socedad Espanola de Alpacas and Registry only registers alpacas and includes both Huacayas and Suris but keeps animals with both breed parentage in one category. Certificates are not issued. Members do retain specific breed identifiers. The registry is open and animals can be imported with little problem. DNA certification is not required for new registrants. A database and list of animals owned (but not sold) by members is maintained. The Socedad is, according to Chairman Nigel Cobb, “in its infancy,” and contains only about 100 animals. The Socedad does not acknowledge alpacas from other registries. It does not have a breed standard.
Llama and Alpaca Registries Europe (LAREU) www.lareu.org
LAREU is a Registered European Association based in Brig, Switzerland. Its purpose is to provide an online registration service for all alpaca and llama breeders and owners. LAREU maintains a database and tracks DNA parentage. LAREU also offers camelid passports for alpacas and llamas.
Alpaka Verein Schweiz (VLAS) Alpaca Association Switzerland www.vlas.ch
The organization of the association is based on the desire of the duties and interests of club members; hobby owners, breeders, professional llama trekking companies and 102 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
others. The following are the main objectives of Alpaca Association Switzerland: • Creating a herd book of South American Camelids (recognized breeding organization). • Leading the club’s website www.vlas.ch. • Representation of interests to the authorities. • Basic and continuing education. • Set of standards for: conformation, housing, feeding, health services and housing. • National Archives and records. • Information and public relations work for the journal LAMAS. • Creating current purchase, sale and exchange lists. • Creating a platform for contact and exchange of experiences, networking of the various interests of the members, recruitment and support.
The British Alpaca Society and British Alpaca Registry (BAS) www.bas-uk.com
The British Alpaca Society (BAS) is dedicated to the welfare of alpacas and the education of their owners in the U.K. The BAS provides information, support and events for alpaca owners, breeders and those interested in alpacas, as well as maintaining the Pedigree Register for the National Herd. The organization is administered by a board of directors, all of whom have an interest in alpacas, and an administrative team provided by Grassroots Systems, Ltd. The Registry is a database containing the genealogy and ownership records of BAS registered alpacas within the U.K. The Register is owned by the BAS and is operated by Grassroots Systems, Ltd., an independent service supplier. The BAS Registry opened with the registration of the U.K.’s foundation herd, eligibility for which was founded exclusively upon the physical presence of alpacas within the U.K. on 17 May 1999. The Registry is now the largest and most detailed alpaca registry in Europe, containing pedigree records dating back to 1996 and, in some cases, breeding records that date back much further. According to Shaun Daniel, Chairman, “The Registry is governed by the BAS board, which makes all major policy decisions. The Registration and Screening SubCommittee of the BAS is responsible for the implementation of policies and procedures in order to maintain the strenuous and rigorous requirements necessary to maintain the standard and integrity of the registry.” Eligibility for registration of alpacas is primarily restricted to the registration of the cria (offspring) of registered parents.
Daniel says, “Alpacas may be registered with the Society subject to passing a screening examination for physical, phenotype and fibre characteristics.” All BAS registered alpacas are micro chipped and tagged using a dual identification process, which conforms to requirements for other agricultural livestock, developed in conjunction with a major recognised supplier. Eligibility for registration of alpacas is primarily restricted to the registration of the cria (offspring) of registered parents. The registry is a major resource of the British Alpaca Society and is being developed to create a standard that will give security to prospective purchasers in that all BAS registered alpacas conform to a minimum standard established by the Society. The registry is being developed constantly as a major breeding tool to provide BAS members with reports and information to support member breeding programmes.
Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) www.alpacainfo.com
AOBA exists to support owners and breeders of alpacas. A marketing program and Show System serves the mutual benefit of all members. AOBA increases awareness of the alpaca as livestock to non-breeders and the use of their exquisite fiber in garments and household items of every type. Through the AOBA Show System, alpaca shows are governed, approved and conferences/educational events held. AOBA is working with other alpaca organizations such as the Alpaca Registry Inc, Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, Alpaca Research Foundation, and Alpaca United setting the direction of the industry. AOBA is a non-profit alpaca owners and breeders association with resources and services for members that include an alpaca industry enthusiast information site, AlpacaInfo, an alpaca fashion and fiber site; AlpacaFashion, a youth association; AYA, a complete show system Alpaca Show System, the AOBA North American Alpaca Catalog, a coast-to-coast alpaca marketing directory of member farms and alpacas for sale is the latest innovation from the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, offering a national alpacas for sale listings, alpaca web design service, and powerful marketing features for breeders to reach more buyers online, and the award winning publication Alpacas Magazine.
Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI) www.alpacaregistry.com
Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI), headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska is the largest alpaca pedigree registry in the world. They only register alpacas (both Huacaya and Suri) and not other camelids. ARI is the only organization of its kind in the United States, but also registers alpacas in Canada and other countries throughout the world. Using advanced DNA technology, ARI validates the parentage of alpacas submitted for pedigree registration. Huacayas and Suris are registered separately and the certificates issued are different colored. Breed type is noted next to every alpaca in a pedigree, so Suri and/ or Huacaya parentage is easily seen. When members purchase specific breed identifiers they are theirs to keep forever. The registry is currently closed, which means alpacas can only be ARI registered if they come from two ARI registered parents. DNA certification is required for new registrants. Animals are no longer allowed to be imported from outside the United States. While the registry maintains relationships with registries all over the world, they do not have reciprocity with any other registry. Alpaca Registry, Inc. has no opinion on breed standards because such a standard, according to Executive Director Darby Vannier, “does not affect registration of alpacas into our Registry.” ARI validates sires and dams. DNA collection takes place by way of blood cards. Once an alpaca’s parentage has been validated, ARI issues a registration certificate that provides known lineage and assigns a unique number to each alpaca. ARI maintains a database of every registered alpaca since the beginning of the Registry and they track the owners of record for those alpacas. Support to members includes: ten full time and one part time staff members dedicated to helping members. The call center answers more than 40,000 phone calls per year and makes almost 20,000 follow-up calls to members. They also answer thousands of email requests each year. The custom built, state-of-the-art registry management system provides online tools for registering and transferring alpacas, but also for researching pedigrees. The database is searched more than 250,000 times per year. The registry management system was designed to send automated reminders to members when they need to sign off on something or complete something in the system. They also provide educational materials for members through the education website, www.ariACAlpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 103
ADEMY.com and an online listing site, www.ariLIST. com, that connects directly to the database. In addition, ARI runs the largest Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) program in the world. This program is giving alpaca breeders the genetic information they need to make better and more reliable breeding and buying decisions. Created in 1988, the ARI methodology and database is one of the most accurate of any livestock industry in the world. Alpaca Registry, Inc. is separate from the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA). ARI identifies its most important mission as: maintaining an official genealogical registry system for alpacas, providing a genealogical research service for alpaca pedigrees, providing information to its members, and setting policy for the administration of that Registry and the rules for admission of non-Registry animals into the Registry. In addition, they strive to be the standard of excellence by which all livestock registries are measured. When asked what sets their registry apart, Vannier says “We are the largest alpaca registry in the world and maintain the largest DNA database of alpacas with results on over 200,000 alpacas dating back to 1998. We are the only camelid registry in the world that requires DNA testing and validation for every single alpaca that is registered. As a result, we are the only camelid registry that can offer a truly scientifically validated pedigree.”
Alpaca Research Foundation www.alpacaresearchfoundation.org
The Mission of the Alpaca Research Foundation is to encourage and support scientific research which benefits the North American alpaca industry, primarily in the areas of alpaca health, husbandry, genetics and fiber. The Alpaca Research Trust was established by the ARI Board of Directors in December, 1997 as a Colorado, non-profit corporation for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. In 2003, what is now known as the Alpaca Research Foundation (ARF) became an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. Since its inception, ARF has been dedicated to funding medical and scientific research aimed at improving the health and vitality of North American alpacas. Only research that is conducted and evaluated under the peer-review process is funded and 100% of donations to ARF go directly to alpaca research. In addition, ARF works closely with the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), helping to set priorities for research funding and providing monetary support for projects administered through the Llama and Alpaca division of MAF. 104 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Camelid Identification System (CIS) www.cisdna.org
The Camelid Identification System (CIS) is a working science-based non-profit organization with the sole directive of creating stronger gene pools in all Camelid populations of the world. CIS will facilitate this through competitive, affordable and scientifically accurate DNA collection and verification. As the world Camelid industry forges into the 21st century, using DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) to verify parentage and ensure the accuracy of pedigrees has become an important part of preserving bloodlines in the Camelid Industry as well as the wild populations of the world. Partnering with the University of California Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL), CIS uses state-of the-art DNA hair follicle testing to profile Camelids and to determine parentage. Hair follicle DNA typing is similar to blood DNA typing for parentage, with the exception that DNA typing is more reliable. DNA is replicated and passed on to offspring. As a result, there are fewer than 1 in 10,000,000 errors in DNA samples recorded through the University of California at Davis for DNA typing, one of the foremost facilities used in the nation. The VGL primary alpaca panel that is used to test all CIS samples includes fourteen markers (eleven from the International Society of Animal Genetics [ISAG], panel approved in 2010). All fourteen markers are reported. This panel has been developed over the years to include markers that are highly polymorphic and thus, exceptional for resolving parentage cases. When needed, CIS has a backup panel that includes another eleven markers (two more from the ISAG panel). When there is more than one possible sire presented, the qualifier is typically clear using the primary panel. CIS also offers studies relating to purity and important genetic factors, which will be facilitated via a world collective of Camelid scientists. CIS’ team of world Camelid scientists is now being formulated as the needed projects in Camelid studies are assessed around the world, from the South American populations of wild species of vicuña and guanacos to the highland populations of domestic breeds of pure alpacas which are becoming endangered by hybridization, as well as at the other end of the globe in the wilderness of Ladakh, home to the endangered Bactrian Camel. CIS is also committed to helping domestic world populations of Camelids that need affordable and valued DNA parental
verification and certification for advanced health concerns and specific breeding goals. The objective of CIS is to provide a new pillar of scientific strength working with existing science organizations as well as breed organizations and registries to further assist in the health and advancements of all Camelid breeds. CIS is a certification and validation of specie and parentage that documents lineage but does not act as a private registry. CIS is independent of any breeder association. The CIS database is sorted and processed by specie-breed and also by owner or group (organization). CIS defines and records Huacaya and Suri as distinct breed types and they will be distinguished as such in their parental lineage. CIS issues certificates. CIS is open to scientifically test all breeds of Camelids worldwide. Each breed is identified by Genus and Specie. CIS differentiates breeds by their DNA and specie classification. Breed standards are referred to the discretion of the breed organizations. All Camelids have their own data collection via Genus and Species, which is directed to the science centers and scientists doing specific breed studies. CIS will refer all importations of CIS certified alpacas through the country of destination’s breed registries and government authorities. CIS is open to scientifically test all breeds of Camelids worldwide and encourages all Camelids from all countries to participate in DNA certification, validation, purity and breed study programs. CIS offers DNA certification for individuals, which does not require submission of Dam or Sire DNA. For parental certification, CIS requires DNA certification of Dam and Sire. CIS offers: • Compliance & Value • Security • Reliability • Efficiency • Longevity • Each breeder accesses their own account and password-protected breeder identification. CIS is different from other groups in that it is not a registry. CIS is a nonprofit organization with main mission of providing affordable and reliable DNA results. Excess proceeds go directly into science-based Camelid Studies and programs. CIS fees are available at www.CISDNA.org.
Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association www.ciaba.org
Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association, (CIABA), was launched by Valerie Newell and Robin Alpert in the spring of 2010 after the economy in the United States took a sharp downturn. People who had invested their life savings in alpacas were suddenly losing their incomes and could no longer afford to keep their beloved alpacas. They were being told by the major alpaca organization in the U.S. that their animals were of no value unless they met a certain standard set by the U.S. Alpaca show ring. Alpacas that people thought had no value were actually going to slaughter and some of the bigger farms and “business” people were promoting the sale of meat and hides. Some of those animals probably had excellent fiber, but since they had been devalued in the show ring, owners did not understand their true value. It was an unacceptable situation. Val and Robin, along with many other alpaca farmers, believed that the only way to save the industry was to get the fiber into production so the consumer could see what a valuable commodity it was. This was not being done by the major organizations, so CIABA was born. The phrase “Alpaca Breeders Association” should probably have been “Camelid Breeders Association” because CIABA values all natural fibers, but concentrates on camelids. To us, Cottage Industry means anything from working with your own fiber at home up through small manufacturing, which has always been the progression of commerce leading to larger industry. We believe that there is no basis for an alpaca industry if there is no end product base. Mission: To honor and promote those North American alpacas that do not fit the typical show ring criteria: silky, fine uniform fiber or fiber that is variegated or unique. To educate the public about areas of fiber, fiber arts, end products and animal husbandry. CIABA would like to demonstrate that as a group we honor, accept and show appreciation for the use of alpaca fiber and all other natural fibers well suited to blend with alpaca. To promote the growth of the alpaca fiber industry and to educate the consumer about why alpaca fiber is unique and was once called “Fiber of the Gods.” To promote the industry as a viable and sustainable fiber and farming industry for all economic levels and to have all who hold to these high standards prosper.
International Camelid Institute www.icinfo.org
Founded in 2001 by David E. Anderson, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS, at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in the United States, the InterAlpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 105
national Camelid Institute (ICI) promotes education, service and collaboration among researchers, breeders, owners, fiber and textile industry professionals and animal enthusiasts worldwide. As an information repository, veterinarians, owners, academicians, regulatory agencies and others can access and obtain essential information for everyday situations from research. ICI strives to acknowledge research being conducted throughout the world and seeks to help avoid duplication of efforts. ICI does not solicit research funds nor does it administer grants. ICI seeks to share and exchange information and therefore is not exclusionary to any researchers. The Institute serves as an educational conduit to fulfill its mission of improving animal health and well being.
International Lama Registry www.lamaregistry.com
According to Jan Wassink, ILR Registrar, “The ILR was the original alpaca registry in North America. In the early 90’s, the alpaca owners wanted to have their own registry so they formed the ARI and purchased the alpaca registration files from the ILR. The ILR continued to do the alpaca registrations for the ARI under an administrative agreement until 2004 when the ARI established an independent office. The CLAA was also formed after the ILR and most of the original breeding stock within the CLAA were camelids already registered by the ILR.” “The administrative agreement between the ILR and the ARI included a seven-year ‘non-compete’ clause, which expired in 2011, opening the door for the ILR to once again register alpacas along with the other camelids. This addition has been welcomed by our members as many of them own several species of camelids and can now do all their registration work in one place.” “The ‘politics’ of the ILR registry are important in that while all registries are formed to add value to registered stock, many registries soon get involved in “promoting” a particular “style” of the species by developing a breed standard. The ILR has never taken that approach, choosing instead to simply record the genealogies and allow the market to determine value.” “Because the ILR only started registering alpacas again a little more than a year ago and have only publicized this addition to ILR members, we do not have a broad range of services that we currently offer specifically to owners of registered alpacas. However, if you have time to look at our website, you will see the wide variety of services that are available to owners of all 106 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
of the varieties of camelids. In addition, as the number of ILR registered alpacas increases, the ILR board will certainly be willing to work with alpaca owners to try to provide any special services that they may want.” The ILR is the largest accurate compilation of lama genealogical information in the world. The Registry is a not-for-profit corporation with the purpose of maintaining an official genealogical registry system and research services for owners of sub species of the genus lama: llama (lama glama), guanaco (lama guanicoe), vicuña (lama vicugna) and crossbred. (Both Huacaya and Suri alpacas can be registered but they are not separated.) Members retain specific breed identifiers. The registry is separate from breed organizations. The registry is currently semi-closed. Animals may still be imported – all that is necessary is registration. DNA certification is not required for new registrants. Both sires and dams are verified for breeding stock. Both rootball and FTA cards are used as DNA collection methods. The most important mission of the registry is to maintain genealogical records for breeders. When asked what sets the registry apart from others, Wassink says “We are international and non-political.” The registry acknowledges alpacas from all other valid alpaca registries. Basic registration is $20, DNA analysis is $40. The registry does not maintain breed standards. The ILR can be compared to a large library, a valuable storehouse of information, whose job is to gather and maintain accurate genealogical records. The registry also keeps lists of animals owned or sold by members. The focus is always on the expansion and accuracy of the records.
Suri Network www.surinetwork.org
The Suri Network’s board is focused on industry aspects that will benefit all breeders of Suri alpacas. North America has the opportunity and potential to be the global leader in Suri alpacas. The Suri alpaca is the only alpaca in North America to have an association written and approved breed standard. The Suri Network and Suri breeders are committed to the advancement of Suri genetics and to the advancement of economic value of Suris. Suri breeders understand the importance of continued education and research for the long-term growth of the Suri alpaca.
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The Unbroken Circle: International Groups that Benefit Alpacas and the Human Populations that Depend on Them What is a Non-Profit? An industry that finds itself able to support non-profit agencies shows certain maturity and enduring commitment. The best nonprofit organizations act as altruistic conduits to support their chosen project. They do so most effectively by gathering funding for the subject of interest and providing a place for people to communicate about it: a network. They also create a positive awareness in the general public. Non-profits model rewards that are not profit based - they know that value exists in many things other than money. This philanthropic goal creates richness and meaning. How is a Non-Profit Financially Categorized? Non-profit status enables your group to obtain private and public grants, low-cost postage rates and exemption from income, sales and property taxes. According to the Internal Revenue Service, “to be tax-exempt . . . an organization
must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes . . . and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.” While nonprofits are allowed to make money, those funds must, in effect, go back into the organization and go toward its continuation and goals. Non-profits have other regulations, terminology and uses outside the United States. In the alpaca industry today, many nonprofits and other groups are helping camelids. In Perú, because the livelihoods of so many individuals are so closely tied to those of the alpacas, many of the groups assist people in conjunction with the animals that parallel their lives. Here is a short list of some of the groups helping preserve the camelid culture in the United States and abroad. Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 113
In PerĂş, Quechuan children often have to walk ten miles or more to get to school. When they arrive, they are taught in a language they do not understand. Students are often exposed to subjects that do not apply to their daily lives. Amantani helps by providing shelter and education near schools so that children have a safe haven when theyâ€™re away from home.
RIGHT: Mike Safely, one of the founders of Quechua Benefit, with Alejandro Tejeda and the Building Contractor for Casa Chapi, which translates to “home here” in a mixture of Spanish and Quechua. Quechua Benefit is an organization dedicated to helping the Quechua people in the highlands of Perú. They deliver medical, dental and optical care; distribute warm clothing; provide shelter, food and sociological services with an emphasis on children. BELOW: Peruvian mothers wait with their children at Casa Chapi to receive dental and health care.
10 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Alpaca AlpacaCulture Culture• •Spring Spring2012 2012 | | 117 11
Threads of Perú is a non-profit social enterprise that connects the world to the woven work of Quechua women, helping to preserve their ancient craft and provide them with economic opportunity. ABOVE: A Peruvian woman spins vicuña fiber using the traditional drop spindle method. RIGHT: Traditional weaving techniques produce textiles vibrant with color, as displayed by this Peruvian woman.
118 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
Photo by: Michael Marquand
Alpaca Culture â€˘ Spring 2012 | 119
Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association UNITED STATES See page 103
Alpaca Research Foundation (ARF) UNITED STATES See page 103
UNITED KINGDOM www.amantani.org.uk Mission: to help the children of Perú keep their smiles. Amantani’s boarding houses bridge the gap between home and school for children living in Ccorca; a handful of Quechua communities nestled high in the Andes of Southern Perú. They are essentially working to combat two problems:
1. The physical gap - a four-hour walk between home and school. 2. The educational gap - an irrelevant curriculum that alienates indigenous children.
Amantani believes in the individual and in creating tailored solutions for specific problems. They create a mutual and reciprocal relationship with their beneficiaries. Whilst providing material resources, they also create spaces in which people in Perú, who are often rich in other ways, can offer something back. This process of exchange is very close to the Andean principle of reciprocation (‘ayni’) and is central to everything they do.
Camelid Identification System (CIS) UNITED STATES See page 104
CONOPA Instituto de Investigacion y Desarrollo de Camelidos Sudamericanos
PERÚ www.conopa.org CONOPA is a leader in research projects on alpaca genetics, sustainable utilization of the vicuña and guanaco, and guanaco conservation and 120 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
population genetics in Perú. Jane Wheeler is Vice President for Research, CONOPA. She holds degrees from American University, Cambridge University, and the University of Michigan, and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Paris. For more than 30 years she has conducted broad based research on the South American camelids, covering topics from origin, evolution and domestication of alpacas and llamas, to molecular genetics, breeding and fibre production, as well as vicuña and guanaco genetics and conservation.
Cottage Industry Alpaca Association UNITED STATES See page 105
Integral Development in the Alpaca Sector and International Marketing PERÚ www.alpacaPeru-disami.org The key objectives of the non-profit organization and the development project, DISAMI, are to:
• Improve the technical and microeconomic conditions of the poor alpaca farmers. • Increase the economy of scale and profitability of the alpaca farms and reduce the poverty of alpaca farmers. • Promote animal species protection of the alpacas and their genetic improvement. • Contribute to environmental protection and ecological improvement in the alpaca sector. • Improve the technical, microeconomic and social conditions of the small and poor manufacturers of alpaca textiles. • Improve - through a special marketing strategy - the awareness, the competitiveness, the exportation and the market position of alpaca textiles at the international level with the intent to reduce the poverty of all the people in the alpaca sector.
PERÚ www.nunoaproject.org Nuñoa is a group of like-minded members of the alpaca community who are concerned about the welfare of the people, children and animals of Perú. This is a country that is home to the world’s largest
population of alpacas. Unlike in the United States where veterinary care is routine, in Perú it is rare. The future of the industry there lies with the children and the health of the herds. These are the areas in which they hope to make a difference. Mission: To give back to the country of Perú for their gift of alpacas to the U.S. and other countries in the world. To make a positive difference in the lives of herders and townspeople of Nuñoa, Perú. To address immediate needs through humanitarian aid and veterinary support for the animals in the region. To exchange information and preserve the rural traditions of herding for future generations in Nuñoa. To establish self sustaining programs in the areas of: support for underprivileged children and herding families, veterinary assistance for livestock, and tourism for the Nuñoa area.
PERÚ www.quechuabenefit.org Quechua Benefit is an organization dedicated to helping the Quechua people in the highlands of Perú. They deliver medical, dental and optical care; distribute warm clothing; provide shelter, food, and sociological services with an emphasis on children. The motivations of those who are brought to charitable work are equally as diverse. Many come through deeply held faith, some through a sense of gratitude for the people of Perú and others from a desire to connect with people from another culture and way of life. As a non-denominational faith-based non-profit, Quechua Benefit strives to unite those who feel a call and have a heart to serve the poorest of the poor in Perú. The Quechua often believe that their spirituality and their physical well being are one. Quechua Benefit often tells their mission participants: “Do not be afraid to pray with those you come in contact with including patients.” Through their common purpose, Quechua Benefit seeks to lift up those they serve from physical, environmental and spiritual suffering.
UNITED STATES-AFGHANISTAN-IRAQ www.bentstarproject.org/SockBrigadeAlpacaOwners.html The sock brigade has sent more than 10,000
pairs of alpaca socks to U.S. troops since 2007. The sock brigade accepts finished socks to donate to troops in the United States military. They also seek alpaca fiber. Send Huacaya or Suri blanket between three and five inches long with a micron count of 26 or less. Donated fleece is processed into yarn and then socks in the United States. Fleece can be a charity donation, tax deductible, if you like. Just follow up with Sock Brigade and request a receipt for your donation. Ship fleece to: Flaggy Meadow Fiber Works 2110 Mackville Road (KY-152) Springfield KY 40069
The Camelid Center
UNITED STATES www.thecamelidcenter.org The Camelid Center is a research and education center focused on camelid issues. At the center you will find research being conducted addressing camelid nutrition, the alpaca manure methane digester, camelid fiber and camelid reproduction topics. The Camelid Center’s mission is to provide education opportunities for producers across the country to learn husbandry skills; for South American scientists and students to work here in the United States with scientists and students from universities in Utah and in the future from across the U.S.
Threads of Perú
CANADA-PERÚ www.threadsofPerú.com Threads of Perú is a collaboration aimed at educating the world about the unique beauty and cultural significance of the Andean people and their textile traditions. Through the web, community tours, and international sales, they connect indigenous Andean weavers of Perú to a global market; contributing to the survival of this art form and to the health and well being of the people that sustain it. Threads of Perú began when Adam Foster Collins and his university design class started Project Perú in Nova Scotia, Canada and contacted Ariana Svenson and Apus Perú in Cusco. Threads of Perú has offices based in Cusco, Perú and in Halifax, NS Canada. Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 121
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Innovations GreenBird Nesting Material Box This clever product is made from all renewable materials. The gem-shaped paper box that holds the fiber is actually three layers laminated together. Former package designer and product creator Dave Allen says, “While developing the nesting box, I researched alpaca and found that there are several alpaca farms in our area. I contacted them and was able to buy seconds. I used alpaca because I really like everything about it. My first really good sweater was black alpaca that I bought in high school and wore through college. I’ve been an alpaca fan ever since.” The nesting material box is packaged minimally in keeping with the green theme and comes unassembled. Thread the leather cord through a series of holes, then stuff the alpaca fiber in the recycled paper holder and hang it in your yard high enough so that predators won’t use it as a take-out box. Soon, you will attract a variety of songbirds eager to utilize the fleece for their nests. At just $5.99 plus tax and shipping, you can provide an entire neighborhood of housing for very little expense. (GreenBirdHouse.com)
USAlpaca Company Pillows Alpaca Pillows from USAlpaca Company are like nothing else on the market. They are 100% U.S. organic cotton, filled with 100% natural U.S. alpaca fiber and completely made in America. Naturally fire resistant, they offer a totally chemical free alternative to ordinary foam pillows which are known to out-gas chemical vapors. USAlpaca pillows are the healthiest and most luxurious place to lay your head, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. They’re anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and odor-free. The product line includes Standard, Queen and King sizes, each available in light, medium and full fill. USAlpaca Company also offers nursing or pregnancy pillows, travel, hotel, spa and specialty pillows ranging from $69 - $199. (USAlpacaCompany.com)
Inca Gold’s Paca Doo™ Inca Gold’s Paca Doo™ Alpaca Fertilizer is black gold to gardeners. Each natural water-released bean enriches soil and plants with nitrogen and minerals, adding to health and vitality. Uniquely, Paca Doo™ combines alpaca dung with coffee grounds that are specially neutralized to prevent burning of the plant root system. Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong. Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Potassium (Potash) is important for overall plant health. Paca Doo™ beans are also coated with Diatomaceous Earth which adds additional minerals and is a natural pesticide. Paca Doo™ has a composition of 2-1-1, so it is well balanced for outdoor and indoor plants. When I asked Maribeth Peters, creator of Paca Doo™, why it is superior to other fertilizers, she said, “It is an original product and there is no other in the world that can compare. It all starts with the health of our alpacas and the high grade of feed, pasture and care we give them. The manure is hand picked from our pastures, soaked in a coffee tea formula, sterilized and then coated with diatomaceous earth. This is an original, all natural product and not manufactured anywhere else on the planet!” To place an order please email: Order@Paca-Doo.Com. $13.95 per 16-oz. bag - free shipping.
Do you have a product you’d like highlighted? Let us know. We are always on the lookout for innovative, high quality alpaca products to feature on the pages of Alpaca Culture. E-mail email@example.com
Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012 | 123
Alpacas for the Discerning
2012 Futurity Light Herdsire of the Year
Pucara Kahuna a Kahuna offspring
Tikanui - reserve White e Male Champ and Best Head ad
Manu Beige Male Champ
sold to: Hasselbring's Harmony ny Ranch
2012 Futurity Dark Herdsire of the Year
LCA Huckleberry De Latah LCA Huckleberry De Latah Offspring
Holokai reserve Black male Champ mp Sold to: Sunny Hill Alpacas
Sumbawa Sum Su mbaw mb m awa a Brown Male M Champ
Three Pucara Get of Sire teams were in the top six of 19 Get of Sire teams at the 2012 Futurity . . . t,BIVOBUPPL Champion t$IBLPUBIPG$$3 Suris placed Fourth t)VDLMFCFSSZUPPL Fifth Alan Cousill Jude Anderson .VEEZ7BMMFZ3E .D.JOOWJMMF 03 QVDBSB!FBSUIMJOLOFU
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At TealWater Ranch lives a thriving herd of both Huacaya and Suri alpacas. We are large enough to offer new breeders quality starter-herd packages, yet still fully hands-on with our operations to provide individual attention and sound advice. Expertise in fiber sorting and grading, animal selection, and breeding decisions.
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Abraham Lincoln was known to wear alpaca fiber garments, especially dress coats. Elected to office in 1860, the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was arguably one of the most important figures in world history. His humble beginnings, rise to the presidency, emancipation of slaves and eloquent speeches have fascinated and inspired generations.
“ . . . Lincoln entertained the others with some of his stories. Noticing a torn pocket in his black alpaca coat, he mended it with a pin taken from his waste coat. “It seems to me,” he said smiling, ‘that this does not look quite right for the Chief Magistrate of this mighty Republic.’” ~ “Lincoln and the Tools of War” by Robert V. Bruce and Benjamin P. Thomas “ . . . Mr. Lincoln entered, carrying an old carpet-bag in his hand, and wearing a weather-beaten silk hat – too large, apparently, for his head, – a long, loosely fitting frock-coat, of black alpaca, and vest and trousers of the same material.” ~ “The Everyday Life of Abraham Lincoln” by Francis F. Browne
“A house divided cannot stand.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
128 | Alpaca Culture • Spring 2012
“Lincoln became one of the first Republicans. The oratory of this strange, serious man seemed to inspire the hopes of the people. They looked upon him in bewilderment as they saw this giant of the woods, in a black alpaca coat, with his sleeves rolled up, hammering away at the institution which he believed to be unjust.” ~ “Portrait Life of Lincoln” by Francis Trevelyan Miller
Published on Jun 10, 2012
The State of the Industry: This informative issue lays out the structure and organization of the industry alongside articles about the histo...