Friday, December 28, 2007

Suri vs Huacaya

As I mentioned in the post yesterday there are two types of Alpacas, Suri and Huacaya. We are raising Huacaya which is the more popular of the two. We like the look of the Huacaya better, we also feel that since we live in a colder state, it makes sense to raise the alpaca that has the warmer coat ;) Though there are Suri farms in Michigan, so it comes down to a personal choice which to raise.

I found this on wikipedia:
There are two types of alpaca: Huacaya (which produce a dense, soft, crimpy sheep-like fiber), and the mop-like Suri (with silky pencil-like locks, resembling dread-locks but not actually matted fibers). Suris are prized for their longer and silkier fibers, and estimated to make up between 19-20% of the Alpaca population. However, since its import into the United States, the Suri is growing substantially in number and color diversity. The Suri is thought to be rarer, possibly because it is less hardy in the harsh South American mountain climates, as its fleece offers less insulation against the cold. The Suri fleece parts along the spine, exposing the animal to the cold, unlike the Huacaya fleece which provides excellent cover over the backbone.

another quote I found about the two different kinds of alpacas (
Huacaya fleece is usually crimpy, and grows out perpendicularly from the alpaca's body, giving huacayas that “poofy” look. Suri fleece has a long and silky look, hanging straight down from where it grows on the alpaca's body. Suri and huacaya fleeces each have desirable characteristics making them highly sought after for different uses in the textile industry.

Crimp refers to the waves in the fleece. There are differing opinions on the benefits of more crimp. I have read that the crimp helps alpaca yarn have memory once the fiber is made into yarn and knit into product. However, as a spinner, I prefer the more bold crimp. At our farm we focus on producing animals with consist crimp, especially across the blanket area (the blanket is the fleece that is across the back and along the sides of the alpaca, considered the "prime" fleece). Crimp, luster (shine) and density are considered good traits in huacaya fleece. Guard hairs are a bad trait. Guard hairs are the coarse hairs that are usually longer (they are what causes wool to be scratchy). Alpacas fiber is more desirable than wool because a good alpaca does not have much guard hair and is not scratchy. Alpacas who are overfed are more likely to grow very coarse guard hairs (called "blowing out their fiber"). Reportedly in Peru they sometimes underfeed alpacas to keep their fleece from becoming coarse but instead staying baby soft (this was referred to as being hunger fine). This is not practice in the United States, though we do watch their weight, we do not underfeed. Of note, alpacas have a longer life expectancy in the US, of around 20 years.

No comments:

Pin It button on image hover