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Alpacas are native to the Andes, where extreme cold and high altitudes have led to the development of a unique and high-quality fiber. Alpaca wool is obtained from two subspecies: huacaya alpaca and suri alpaca. The former is more common and has a shorter, denser fiber, while the latter has a longer and silkier fiber.
Alpaca farming is an ancient practice in countries like Peru and Bolivia, where sustainable and responsible care is provided. In addition to ensuring the well-being of the animals, breeders also work to maintain fiber quality through proper diet and the selection of the best specimens.
One of the most critical factors in alpaca farming is selecting the best specimens, both in terms of genetics and health. Breeders look for animals with high-quality fiber, good conformation, and resistance to diseases. Proper selection ensures that future generations of alpacas will also inherit these characteristics.
Care and management of alpacas are also fundamental in farming. Animals should have adequate space to graze and move, as well as protection from weather conditions and predators. Additionally, providing a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is crucial to maintaining their health and the quality of their wool.
Shearing: The First Step in Fiber Acquisition
Shearing alpacas is essential both for the animals' health and for obtaining their precious fiber. This process is carried out carefully and respectfully, ensuring the well-being of the alpacas and the quality of the obtained wool.
Various shearing techniques exist, all aiming to minimize stress and discomfort for the alpacas.
Regardless of the technique used, it's crucial that shearers are experts in handling alpacas and cutting fiber to avoid damaging the animals' skin and preserve the quality of the wool.
The highest quality fiber comes from the first shearing of young animals, known as baby alpaca. This fiber is finer, softer, and warmer than fibers obtained in subsequent shearings. Moreover, baby alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic, making it ideal for people sensitive to other wools.
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