Laurel Highlands Alpacas

WHY ALPACAS? 


What is it about alpaca fiber that makes it so special?  Alpacas have been raised for their fiber for centuries in the central highlands of Peru called the altiplano at altitudes between 12,000 and 16,000 feet.  Mike Safely says in his book Alpacas-Synthesis of a Miracle that "this extreme elevation is the last plateau upon which man can survive". (page 18).  Their environment contributed to making this little creature a tough, efficient fiber producing machine.  The temperatures at night as well as during the bright daylight can dip to freezing. Their fiber can be so dense that water can't even penetrate.  I've learned about the "dust line" which is the obvious line of demarcation where the fleece is so thick that the dirt can't get through..so the fibers are very clean closer to the skin and soiled towards the ends.  The denser the animal's coat, the cleaner the animal's fibers are before the dust line.  A superior fleece should have the appearance of popcorn or cauliflower and it should be able to be opened like a book, not a rose.


Because of it's softness, warmth and lightness of weight, alpaca fiber was originally reserved for Incan royalty.  Alpaca fiber can be spun into fiber with minimal processing.  It's  warm,  strong  and naturally water resistant.  


No other animal comes in so many natural colors either!  Alpacas come in 22 shades.


An alpaca could be called the perfect "green animal".  It has soft padded two toed feet that don't tear up a pasture, it doesn't eat a pasture to the nub.  Because of the 3 compartments in its stomach is fermented and ready to be applied to gardens as fertilizer without further composting, and of course the fleece can be harvested without harming the animal!