Fleece & Fashion

High-quality fleece production is achieved through an effective breeding program, careful preparation and professional shearing. The AAA assists farmers with up-to-date information on standards and procedures, by educating others in the industry, and providing workshops, field days and regular information through the member's magazine and newsletter. The AAA's regions provide on the ground support for members through all stages of the process.

Depending on your alpaca breed, the fleece will have different characteristics. High-quality Huacaya fleece should have a uniform fibre with a consistent colour, length, strength and crimping. It is consistently bright and fine, with little guard hair.

Suri alpacas provide a fleece of greater lustre, yet share many of the same ideal properties, including integrity of colour, consistent length, strength, and a lack of guard hair. Healthy alpacas should produce a consistent yield across their bodies.

Many of these fleece characteristics are determined by genetics, so it is important to research breeders and the animals' histories carefully before you invest. The fibre types, fineness, colour, length, guard hair, crimp, brightness and yield are all genetically determined, however nutrition and health also play a large role in the fineness, length, strength and yield of the fleece.

Once the fleece is harvested, it has a bright future. Australia now boasts several alpaca garment and yarn manufacturers. Internationally, there is an increasing interest in the fibre among fashion houses, and as the industry grows, our farmers will be further able to meet all supply demands, both nationally and internationally. At the moment, the demand outweighs production.

As a luxury fibre market, the returns on alpaca fleece can be generous, and the demand for quality animals and quality fleece is increasing.

By investing in alpacas you will be supporting the development of a new fibre industry. Alpacas are excellent herd animals where acreage is small, offering flexibility to small landholders. They are a great opportunity for large landowners who wish to diversify into a luxury fibre offering good returns with little fuss.

Our association provides a detailed shearing code that outlines the complete process, giving details to help you avoid pitfalls and maintain the highest quality for your product.

And it's not just fleece that struts the catwalk – the alpacas themselves have the chance to feature in shows all around Australia. The Royal Shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane and major regional centres have introduced alpaca judging and fleece classes. Since the first auction in 1991, Dalgety Farmers have been hosting a popular show event that attracts many enthusiastic buyers and commands strong prices. (Is this auction part of the shows? If not, maybe delete this line.) The Australian Alpaca Association trains judges and supports the events that offer the opportunity to admire and learn about these wonderful animals.

Although still young, the alpaca industry is one of the most progressive and energetic in Australia. The Australian Alpaca Association aims to ensure that the potential of the alpaca is developed to the full.