Breeding for fineness
Breeding to improve fiber fineness has been one of the main goals of the alpaca industry ever since Peru started exporting alpacas in the 1990’s. Vigilant breeders have made great progress in achieving vicuna and cashmere quality production. However, improving fiber fineness can come at a great cost if you’re not paying attention.
Its generally understood that alpaca production will attain vicuna quality fiber characteristics as it was prior to the Spanish conquests and decimation of the SA culture over 500 years ago. It would be nice to think that alpaca of that quality would fetch the $250 per pound value that vicuna currently is bringing but due to greater production it is expected that as alpaca production attains 12-18 micron it should bring $90 to $125 per pound.
Reducing fiber diameter or improving fineness is a fairly easy process as fineness genetics appear to be highly heritable, meaning progress is predictable. What is more difficult to achieve is fiber follicular density. As fineness improves if there is not at least an equal increase in density to offset the loss of volume the result will be a reduction in the weight of production. A 6 micron reduction in fiber diameter from 24 to 18 will require close to a 80% increase in fiber follicle to maintain the same production weight. A reduction of 12 micron from 24 to 12 micron will require a 400% increase in fiber follicle density to obtain the same production weight. There are a couple of issues at play that will actually help that process.
One being that it takes several generations to achieve a 12 micron reduction. Second, is the availability of EPD’s that can help to increase fiber weight production with each generation. Its relatively easy to select for breeding outcomes to improve fineness along with an increase of fleece weight production of 1/4 to 1/2 lb. or more with each breeding. The result being that by the time you reach a sub 18 micron fiber production you will also have achieved greater fleece weigh production. If it makes sense to get 4 to 6 times the value for each pound produced in achieving fineness it makes even more sense to increase production weight by 50% to 100%. The result would be an increase in revenue of 400% to 600% from current rates.
We have developed an alpaca business plan proforma spreadsheet that is capable of helping you plan and predict start-up costs, herd growth, project sales to determine expected income and expenses.
If you’ve been doing some research into raising alpacas you have discovered by there are a lot of variables involved in projecting outcomes for herd size expected expenses and income. The spreadsheets I developed are very versatile and lend themselves to projecting outcomes while exploring the many different variables. Not only the variables of what is involved in an alpaca herd but also the evolution of the typical alpaca breeder.
The spreadsheet will calculate to 10 years out for herd growth, income and expenses to arrive at optimal herd size needed to reach a targeted income. It will also project revenue from goods based upon expected net income per pound produced whether sold raw or value added.
We always provide a proforma with starter herd purchases from Stargazer so you will be able to predict how your business should grow. We also provide consulting for existing herds and those considering raising alpacas as a business venture. Contact us for more information.
RECORD KEEPING FORMS
This record keeping system and forms are copyrighted and are made available for private/individual use only.
Please obtain authorization if considering use for Commercial purposes.
Over the last 18+ years, we have looked at many computer-based, herd management, record keeping systems available on the market. We found they were excellent for recording information/data but were ineffective to use in an emergency decision making situation and were very cumbersome to use as a management tool to aid in diagnosis. The main problem we found was that the systems were basically set up to archive data but do not facilitate retrieving pertinent information in a comprehensive format to facilitate medical decision making.
Cindy’s background as a critical care RN helped devise the following forms. These forms provide a quick retrieval of information without the need of reading through line items of a report. Plus they eliminates the need for dual entries (jotting info onto a piece of paper in the barn and then transferring those notes into your computer when you get into the office.)