Support TAS

Author Topic: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?  (Read 1144 times)

kernow64

  • Joined Dec 2016
  • Brecknockshire
Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« on: February 22, 2017, 08:18:43 am »
Hi All,
I'm new to the forum and smallholding in general.

As with all of my posts so far, this is about what to do with stuff we have "inherited" from the previous owners (and in all probability the ones before them), that I have discovered while clearing out the barns.

Although I have not counted them properly, so far I have found several dozen black bin bags hanging from a beam each containing alpaca fleece (most marked with year and colour) and yesterday, I found a (200 litre?) steel drum packed with more (unmarked) bin bags of fleece and I think there are more lurking in other corners.

I have no idea about the pedigree, sex of the alpacas that were kept here and (despite a brief career as a roustabout on an Australian sheep station at shearing time 30 odd years ago), have little idea about how to assess quality of the fleece.

Any help in how to go about assessing the quality and (reasonably polite) suggestions as to what to do with this haul would be welcome?

If it is not any use for spinning then are there alternative uses e.g. insulating a sheds or putting on veg beds to keep them warm?

As ever, any suggestions gratefully received,

Jerry

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 08:26:16 am »
Apparently alpaca wool is good for a number of things, my mum has alpacas and has a similar beam with bags of fleece for every year they've been shorn!

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 09:25:00 am »
Take some samples to a hand spinner or spinning group and watch if they grin or tut!  :)
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 12:26:51 pm »
Sounds like those fleeces are pretty ancient and have been stored in plastic bags.  Not good, but alpaca does store that way better then sheep fleece.  Do you know how many alpaca the previous owner had?  That would give you an idea of how old some of the fleeces are.  You might be able to work out which are the newest ones, with the most likelihood of being usable, by how much dust and settled mank there is on the bags.


First off, you need to tip each bag out and take a peep.  Spread the fibre out on a plastic sheet, check whether it's mouldy, has mice or a bee's nest in there, and whether it's full of veg stuff like hay, thistles, and so on. Smell it - if it smells fusty then I doubt a spinner will be interested, but you never know.


Each alpaca fleece will be different, not just for colour but also for quality.  Many alpaca coats are very hairy (which is hell to remove by hand), but first shear ones tend to be nicer.  The mill processors could process them for you if they are in good condition, into yarn or woven products to sell, but they are expensive as they need specialist equipment for alpaca.


If they're only suitable for disposal, I have no idea, sorry.  Alpaca fibre doesn't have the tiny hooked scales along its length that sheep wool has, which is what makes it cling together for spinning easily, so it wouldn't be useful for my favourite use of lining potholes under stones (wool felts together and holds the stones in place)
For insulation you would need to treat it against vermin, but otherwise it's a wonderfully environmentally correct usage.


I get the impression that alpaca fibre is not nearly as valuable as keepers expect.  Buy an expensive alpaca and surely you will be rich?  Not at all - it's the breeder who will be rich and not the buyer.  However, there are folk who have specialised in making a saleable products from their alpaca fibre, but they have developed it into a business, so just to use up what you've found will not be the same.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 12:35:42 pm by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 02:17:16 pm »
Apparently alpaca wool is good for a number of things, my mum has alpacas and has a similar beam with bags of fleece for every year they've been shorn!

Obvioulsy good for hanging from beams  :coat:

kernow64

  • Joined Dec 2016
  • Brecknockshire
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 07:52:33 am »
Thanks all for replies.

The fleece bags are dated and the most recent ones I can see are from 2010.

I think the alpaca herd was about 5 or 6 strong.

Sounds like the use of fleece bags as beam ornaments is quite common and as I already suspected, I am not going to be able to fund the start of a great agricultural empire from sales of the fleece!

I will have a sort through the bags and dig out the best quality fleece and get someone to assess the quality but as I doubt that the alpacas were particularly expensive specimens, I suspect that this will be reflected in the quality of the fleece.

Thanks again all, as you have probably gathers, I'm at a low point on what is likely to be a steep learning curve!  :)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 09:13:22 am »
Thanks again all, as you have probably gathers, I'm at a low point on what is likely to be a steep learning curve!  :)

We've all been there  :)

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 09:16:16 am »
When I was in Sydney I came across a shop that sold nothing but alpaca goods.

There was the finely spun and knitted socks, scarves and the usual but also dog beds that had a duvet stuffed with prepared alpaca fibre. I think that could work quite well.
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 10:49:20 am »
Yes, but what you're paying for there is the time and value added - the actual fleece component won't be that much of the final price.

I get the impression that alpaca fibre is not nearly as valuable as keepers expect.  Buy an expensive alpaca and surely you will be rich?  Not at all - it's the breeder who will be rich and not the buyer.

This is something I've never understood. Fair enough if you want to keep alpaca for the pleasure of it, or for your own spinning. However, with youngsters selling for £200+, and raw fleeces available for around £50, I don't see how it adds up commercially.

These are changed days of course. In Ian Thompson's book, Isolation Shepherd, he describes keeping a flock of Scottish Blackface wethers (castrated males), chiefly their fleece. What surprised me most is that this was only the late 1950's, so not long ago, relatively speaking. To put this into context, the current price for blackface wool is 50p to 80p per kg!
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 12:19:19 pm »
I think it was Scottish Blackface wool which in the past was THE wool for the Italians to stuff mattresses with.  It's very resilient and tended to be given to newly married couples  :eyelashes: .  Now those mattresses have gone out of fashion so SBF is just another fleece the Wool Board has to find a market for.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Alpaca Fleece - Uses/Value?
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 12:47:03 pm »
Ah, that's interesting Fleecewife. It also explains why there is a specific wool grade called "Blackface Mattress"  :).
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.

 

Alpaca fleece - a small snippet

Started by laurelrus

Replies: 1
Views: 813
Last post October 14, 2014, 11:33:04 am
by Louise Gaunt
Alpaca and TB (and other animals)

Started by nutterly_uts

Replies: 22
Views: 4429
Last post June 15, 2015, 02:33:27 pm
by nutterly_uts
Magic Alpaca Moment

Started by Fronhaul

Replies: 5
Views: 1645
Last post September 01, 2011, 09:56:32 pm
by Cairnhill
Alpaca sitting near Denbigh

Started by ASSIST ACS

Replies: 0
Views: 893
Last post December 23, 2012, 03:42:22 pm
by ASSIST ACS
bugs in Alpaca feed

Started by AndrewJ

Replies: 3
Views: 1251
Last post September 17, 2013, 05:23:08 pm
by hughesy

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Assist Animal Care Services Thomson & Morgan G.J.W. Titmuss Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Cornwall Turkeys

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS