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 Selling price/Micron count
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allamericanalpacas

4245 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  12:22:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I did say 3 year old.
If no micron count is listed, I will look.
I'll treat no micron count the same as 18-20 micron count
I'm not right, it's just what I personally do

Rick
--
Rick & Pati Horn
All American Alpacas
35215 Avenida Maņana
Murrieta, Ca. 92563
http://aaalpacas.com/updates.html
http://alpacanation.com/aaalpacas.asp
(951) 679-7795
Life is good!
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WillowTan

592 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  10:57:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit WillowTan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Rick, Thanks for breaking it down.
Her micron was not "that" bad, and the other #'s all factored in.I read also that handle etc is also determined by the other levels ie: CV, etc. I just felt her price needed to be lowered due to not having an "outstanding" micron. Although, both her and her Mom are both tall girls that body score a bit low, so I add extra grain, and a small amount of alfalfa pellets to their ration during winter/spring.Confirmation, size, bite, color are all excellant.
I was just curious if other sellers were aware of the current micron count of their listed alpacas, and if they took this into consideration when pricing them. Is the micron count as important in Suri as it is in Huacaya?

Tana L. Brandt
WillowTan Alpacas
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AKGray

418 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  1:33:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit AKGray's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Julio Sumar recently spoke about micron counts in alpacas. He reminded us of some of the imports before they got settled in at their new farms here in the States. People that purchased very low micron animals put a lot of emphasis on micron counts, but were completely shocked by the difference (higher microns) when they retested their alpacas later. He attributed the change to better nutrition. He also reminded us of how many alpacas die each year in SA because they don't have enough food. Nutrition plays a big part. There's a balance to be found there somewhere.

Angie Gray
Starlight Alpacas
Eugene, Oregon
www.starlightalpacas.com
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WillowTan

592 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  10:08:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit WillowTan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I was just wondering if other breeders take micron count into consideration when they market/price their alpacas.
and....I just to note, I am not referring to a "brillo pad".
This was a sample I had done on a girl that has bloodlines on both sides that are great micron levels, IS a dark colored alpaca, feels wonderful, and placed in the upper tiers of her classes.I was just surprised that her micron count is what it is.
I had initially started the post to inquire if the micron count is taken into consideration when pricing an alpaca?? If the other girls her age and color that are priced quite a bit higher have an outstanding micron?

Tana L. Brandt
WillowTan Alpacas
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Judith

4005 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  10:35:49 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Tana -- micron is taken into consideration along with so many other variables that there's no hard-and-fast rule. If you're trying to price two or more animals, and they are equivalent to one another in EVERY other aspect (genetic background, color, conformation, ribbons earned, production history of dam and sire, etc.), then you might use micron as the determinant to add an extra thousand or so to one or the other. However, the longer I'm in this business, the more I appreciate the productivity of an alpaca over its micron.

Pricing involves "the whole package," as you suggested in your initial question: gender, conformation, color, genetic background, health, awards, etc. You'll likely develop your own formula for pricing based on the aspects you most value. The task then is to market your alpaca to people who value the same qualities.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm Alpacas, Fleece & Flowers
Randolph, NY 14772
(716) 354-6355
(716) 499-0383 (cell)
www.alpacanation.com/ladysong.asp
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WillowTan

592 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  10:41:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit WillowTan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks Judith!

Tana L. Brandt
WillowTan Alpacas
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dkgalbraith

10 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2006 :  3:24:03 PM  Show Profile  Visit dkgalbraith's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Tana, you might want to retest your girl. If the histogram doesn't match what your feeling then something might be wrong with that particular test.

A couple of years ago we sent in samples to be tested for two of our alpacas. When the results came back my husband and I knew there was something wrong. One came back as a 25 AFD and the other one 27 AFD. The one fleece felt like it was in the low 20's and the other one felt like it was under 20 microns. We decided to redo the two tests taking side samples from the other side. When the results came back they were what we had expected.

I don't know why the numbers were way off on the first tests but I'm glad we retested and trusted what we were feeling. I trust my hands more than I trust any test out there.

Best wishes,

Karen Galbraith
Walnut Creek Alpacas
Talihina, Oklahoma
http://www.walnutcreekalpacas.com
http://www.alpacanation.com/walnutcreek.asp
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Ian Watt

909 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2006 :  7:07:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It seems to me that micron is a big consideration by a lot of breeders when purchasing genetics - whether they be male or female.
That does not make it right but I do think a lot of people use micron counts to excess - something I call micron madness.
The fact of the matter is that micron is but one part of the complex identity known as fibre.
Of all the fibre traits we hear about, the first processors look at is fibre length. If the length does not fall within a specific range, buyers will not look at it, full stop!
They do look at micron and they do look very, very carefulloy at handle - handle being measured as Standard Deviation or SD.
Contrary to what many believe, handle is not about softness, softness is the expression or sensation of handle. Handle is about uniformity of the fibres being felt and the uniformity is first and foremost the consistency of the shape of the individual fibres. Dense animals produce more cylindrical fibres than less dense animals (hence we get variations of handle within colours and between animals as density changes).
As an example, imagine rolling 20 pieces of flexible nylon between your fingers (manmade fibres are a good test as they are usually perfectly round or cylindrical). That sensation is one of softness and slickness.
Add ten percent of fibres that are elliptical in shape (oval) and suddenly the smoothness and consistency has changed and the feel is harsher and less even - all because of the shape of the fibres.
A more dramatic (with some imagination!) example might be to use spaghetti and linguine as the components of the staple.
Elliptical fibres happen when density is lesser and when micron strengthens (thickens) BUT, as the animal ages and more and more fibres strengthen and the animal loses density (as they all do) the handle "feels" better because more and more of the fibres are alike than before.
CV (Co-efficient of Variation) is a calculation that in itself means not much but as a tool to compare animals of differing ages, is very valuable.
SD is the premier measurement of handle BUT buyers trust their fingers to do the talking (apologies to yellow Pages for their jingle, but it is very apt!) and they generally make their decision based on what they feel - SD and micron.
This is where crimp plays into the scene.
Cylindrical fibres have an orthocortex comprising half the volume of a fibre. The orthocortex is responsible for crimp so a 50 :50 orthocortex:cortex composition translates into uniform crimp, so the more highly defined crimp fleeces are also the more dense because they have more cylindrical fibres in the staple. The higher the proportion of elliptical fibres in the staple, the less defined the crimp because the fibres cannot 'nestle' into each other as closely as they can when they are all cylindrical.
Processors look for uniformity because it increases their chances of getting better performance yarn - all the fibres going into the yarn determine the quality that comes out, which is why the Italians pay enormous prices for superfine merino wool because it produces the very best men's suiting, which is the premier expression of quality fleece.
So, for me, the prime things to look for in fleece are staple length first, then micron, crimp, handle and dust.
To add a couple of extra points to an already too long posting:
the butt sample test tells you only what happened on one day - a year's production is 365 consecutive butt sample test results, and that is what buyers look at.
the OFDA2000 test tells you what happened over the year and cannot (without an enormous amount of effort) be manipulated whereas the butt sample test can.
some areas (many, actually) will never be able to grow superfine (under 20 micron) alpaca on geldings at three years of age (the benchmark for me) without applying nutritional deprivation to the management practice.
becasue no premium is applied to under 20 micron fleeces that will compensate for loss of fleece weight, most gtrowers are much better shooting for 20 to 23 micron fleeces at high fleece weights than trying to breed extra fineness into their herds. In other words, get density and fineness will happen.
There must be a limit to the nuimber of words in a single post so I had better call it a day!
Kindest regards to all.
Cheers,


Ian Watt
Alpaca Consulting USA
www.alpacaconsultingUSA.com
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2006 :  7:52:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Ian,

What is it about some areas that will not allow them to "grow" superfine animals without a bit of nutritional deprevation? I know some animals "blow out" when they basically look at a protein level above 16%, but yet there are animals out there that despite being active breeders that eat the richest feed you can imagine, still are below 20 with high shear weights. I haven't gotten my histograms back this year, but wouldn't be surpized if they are "fat" because some of them share pasture with the moms, and get fed well. I would be extremely happy if they are good, despite the feed (that would be one of my goals - retention of micron below XX despite age, breeding and feed).

So, how much environment and hormonal can be corrected by proper breeding?

Heidi

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
http://alpacanation.com/wingnutfarm.asp
http://wingnut-alpacas.com
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Ian Watt

909 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2006 :  02:44:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
G'day Heidi,
Let me put it this way:

just as micron increases when you ship alpacas from the altiplano to the coast and then to the USA, or Australia (for example), so micron will change if you ship them the other way.
Some of that will be nutritional and much of it will be environmental - look at the improved performance of humans at high altitudes, in some sports, compared to sea level results.

Alpacas bred in the cooler, lusher climes of the USA will not necessarily perform as well in the harsher drier conditions of the high desert in New Mexico or southern California, and vice versa.

In merino sheep the finest fleeces come from environmentally shedded sheep where temperature and nutritional supply are monitored and set for maximum production. On natural pastures, the best (finest) fleeces come from merino's in Tasmania (the southernmost part of Australia) and the highland areas of southern New South Wales (cooler). In South Australia (where I come from) the merino is a different style altogether in that they are more robust, bigger, cut more wool and have a higher micron (21 to 23 micron on average). The difference in style is all about environment and the nutrition that the environment produces.

If you test (using the butt sample technique) in spring (which really is testing fibre grown in winter) the result will be lower than if you test in late autumn when the fibre is really that grown in summer - that is the result of environment and nutrition. If you have the OFDA2000 test done you will see the effect of nutrition over the seasons if you do not supplementary feed. Supplementary feeding will even out the micron over a year but will always do it it to a higher micron count than if it is not done. This happens because in autumn and winter there is competition for energy to keep warm and to maintain body weight,health, function and wool which are usually more easily met in spring and summer when pasture feed values are highest and availability is at its best. This reflects in lower micron in stressful times (autumn and winter) than in less stressful times.
If you take a sample for butt testing in late spring (for example) when a lot of shearing takes place in alpacas, and the test protocol chops off half an inch (or six weeks growth), the test result is based on fibre grown at the end of winter - a period of high stress.
In my view, this gives a false impression of the AFD of the fleece over a year which may be even more pronounced if you compare samples taken from different times of the year.
I envision for the future a time when successful breeders will be those who produce predictable progeny for their environment year after year after year.
This means that breeders will focus on what is best for their environment which means that breeders need to KNOW what their environment will grow!!
Why bust a gut and spend many, many hard earned dollars trying to produce a fleece that your environment is telling you it will not allow?
Of course, man will always try to fight nature but the only way to do that in terms of micron is to keep the micron at the level of most stress, because that is what nature (the enviroment) does when man does not interfere.
I find it really hard to discuss this in any depth in this format as it does require some face to face discussion with questions and answers from both sides to get the message across, which is why I spend some time on just this topic in my seminars.
Perhaps I am just confusing the issue even further?
Cheers,

Ian Watt
Alpaca Consulting USA
www.alpacaconsultingUSA.com
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2006 :  3:59:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
No, not confusing the issue, but it is obvious that its something that needs to be discussed in person.

One of these days

Heidi

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
http://alpacanation.com/wingnutfarm.asp
http://wingnut-alpacas.com
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kdurning

3 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2006 :  7:55:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you for so much information on micron count and fiber testing. I feel I went the right direction with my testing this summer. I tested my fleeces with the one that shows how things change over the course of a year. I discovered that many of my animals increased microns after coming home, guess I'm feeding them to well .

I think micron relate to pricing with the right information, but maybe not as much as I originally thought. The animals environment and feeding routines may be more important than genes? I know I will now ask to see full year tests for animals I'm thinking of buying (before I make an ofer) as well as having my animals well tested each year.

Thanks everyone for a very interesting forum, the first I have participated in .

Kimi Durning
Oak Haven Farm
Caldwell, ID 83607
jkdurning@hughes.net
www.alpacanation.com/oakhavenfarm.asp
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Ian Watt

909 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2006 :  10:52:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am sitting here in a cafe in Melbourne, Australia, having a flat white coffee of impeccable quality at the end of what has been a simply stunning two weeks of touring and talking with alpaca breeders, judges, processors, retailers and researchers.
From what I have gathered from the US breeders travelling with me, they have been challenged by some of what they have seen and heard and are coming back home rejuvenated and enthused as a result of their experiences down under.
I mention this because it is very pertinent to some of the discussione here.
Micron madness is recognised here as a disease afflicting many - but it is curable!
Micron is not the panacea many think - density is!
We visited two farms of over 350 animals each operated by two people with no hired help. We saw animals that have pasture and hay as their sole feed supply, we saw minimal intervention, we met no-one who does Igg's (and we visited farms with over 4,000 alpacas), we saw coloured and white fleeces to die for, we talked of simple breeding plans, we handled alpaca fibre that had been dehaired (over 30 ton this year!) that felt like silk in the hand, we sat on alpaca carpet, we felt blended alpaca that defies description .... this truly is a wonderful fibre!!
Handle is everything and handle is all about evenness of micron.
Handle improves as the variation between both ends of the micron range narrow so it is entirely understandable that handle will improve as the AFD increases. The challenge for breeders is to have better SD earlier in life and that means selecting breeding combinations that will deliver great SD at 2 years of age and keep it for as long as possible within a set micron range.
In my view, now irrevocably locked into place, breeders should do away with specific micron counts and concentrate solely on micron ranges when measuring genetic gain within their herds.
I am now also firmly committed to the proposition that breeders will achieve more by becoming the best for their environment rather than chase the micron rainbow to its illusory pot of gold!
Nothing like a refresher course in another country to open the eyes and offer new opportunities for change and focus!!


Ian Watt
Alpaca Consulting USA
www.alpacaconsultingUSA.com
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bobvicki

2956 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2006 :  11:44:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow Ian,

You have been in America too long if your refer to your Australia as another Country! Just kidding there.
your post brings up all kinds of questions to me.

Do the farms with 350 animals and just 2 people do their own shearing?

Are births just done in the field freely if so what is the surivival rate of crias?

What percentage of loss of females from birthing problems is considered acceptable if they do just let them birth in the fields?

Are specific studs used or are they just run with the herd?

One last question, "what does shearing cost per animal in Australia?"

Bob

Bob & Vicki Blodgett
Suri Land Alpaca Ranch
3288 Halter Avenue
Newton, Iowa 50208
641-831-3576
alpaca@iowatelecom.net
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scorrybreck

137 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2006 :  6:36:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit scorrybreck's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Ian,
by the way, it is not customary in Canada either to do IGG's. As a matter of fact I don't know anybody who does it and I know a good number of breeders since I am involved on the national association level.
As fibre sorters we do advocate to sort fibre into micron ranges (grades) with a 3micron spread and uniformity in fineness (handle) is being emphasized as one of the desirable traits for processing.
Many mini mills here do have a fibre separator (dehairing machine)which is producing a very nice yarn even of Grade 4 fibre (26-29micron)

Caecilia Goetze
Scorry Breck Alpaca
Ontario farm with champion quality breeding stock
THE PROOF IS IN THE PASTURE
www.scorrybreckalpaca.com
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Ian Watt

909 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2006 :  2:34:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bob,
I checked out the details for you - and anyone else who is interested.
The females are handmated and placed in birthing groups of 20 to 30 qnimals. These groups then become management groups until mating after weaning. These groups are managed assuming birthing over a two week period for each batch. Their cria are weaned as a whole and run together as a group until 10 months of age when they are separated by sex and merged into larger groups.
Females are offered males at 12 months of age.
Each birthing group comprises matings to different sires so birthings can be grouped pretty tightly.
Help is brought in for shearing and about 80 to 120 are shorn in a day (the lower figure is for sheds collecting fleece data and samples).
Shearing costs about $5 per animal using two shearing stations and NO animal treatments during shearing.
Birthing groups are monitored very closely by having those paddocks near either the house or the centre of farm activity. Interestingly, a nursery area is dedicated to obviously impaired cria. Death rates are no higher than other, more closely managed herds that I am familiar with.
The SRS group now has over 60 participating alpaca businesses with an emphasis on frame, meat and fertility traits as being very high profile.

Caecilia,
The 30 tonne of dehaired alpaca was used solely for the production of duvets and comforters and was all over 26 micron. The new product range includes a wash and wear alpaca blend which allows machine washing - something that has not been done with alpaca before.
The Australian scene is all about blending with wool, cotton and silk with plenty of stunning product to get excited about.
The AAFL is planning on processing 60 tonne of alpaca this season with a projected turnover in excess of $2 million!!
Talk about exciting!


Ian Watt
Alpaca Consulting USA
www.alpacaconsultingUSA.com
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Mary Jane

1150 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2006 :  10:17:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mary Jane's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Ian,
Why, if the fleece was going to be used as stuffing for comforters, etc, did they bother to dehair it? Would the stiffer fibers work out through the cover fabric?
At a recent auction, Ruth Elvested (sp?) gave a talk about using all grades of fibers. One interesting point she made was that even fleece in the higher 20's, if it is consistent (Low CV) makes very nice woven fabrics. The key is uniformity which make the fleece, and therefore the end product, have a nice handle.
Mary Jane

Land of Legends Alpacas
2653 Swans Road
Newark, OH 43055
(740)345-2199
www.alpacanation.com/landoflegends.asp
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renfarms

438 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2006 :  10:50:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit renfarms's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
...The females are handmated and placed in birthing groups of 20 to 30 qnimals. These groups then become management groups until mating after weaning. These groups are managed assuming birthing over a two week period for each batch. Their cria are weaned as a whole and run together as a group until 10 months of age when they are separated by sex and merged into larger groups...



Ian - a couple of questions:
1. Are you saying that the females are not re-bred until after weaning? Doesn't this cause them to miss the optimal 14-21 day post-partum window for cycling and re-breeding. Do they have more difficulty getting their females to catch as a result of this?

2. If the crias are kept together regardless of gender until 10 months of age, don't they run the risk of some precocious males and females breeding, creating a problem down the road when they:
a) turn up pregnant at a less than ideal age, and
b) are pregnant by a male they may not have wanted the female cria bred to, and one whose identity is not immediately known (except that he was one in their cria group). I've heard of 8 month old crias sometimes being able to breed, which is the reason for my curiousity about this.

On a side note, and if it's not too premature, I also want to extend a sincere "THANK-YOU" on behalf of myself and, I'm sure, many other farms here in the U.S., that will benefit from your arranging to bring the equipment back from Australia to perform the more sophisticated micron and growth pattern testing on our fleeces! I'm sure that it will be worth whatever "updated" pricing you will need to charge for it. I'm all for constantly improving scientific herd management practices.

Regards,
Bill

Bill and Louise Goebel
Renaissance Farms
McArthur, Ohio 45651
(740) 596-1468
renfarms@starband.net
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Ian Watt

909 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2006 :  4:43:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mary Jane,
You hit the nail on the head - the stiffer (over 30 micron) fibres do travel through the cover from time to time.
This has a three fold effect:

1. they prickle
2. if you have no stiff hair, you can use a much softer and better quality cover (thus adding to the luxury sensation of the duvet), and
3. you do not have the unsightliness of seeing fibre stick out of the cover.

I should have added that the processor uses only white or light fawn in the product - imagine what the third reason above would look like if it were black!!
Unfortunately fibres of over 30 micron will always prickle no matter what the handle, which is why Kelly and Windsor dehair all of their product fibre - they are, in effect, improving handle by mechanically removing it, and at a substantial add-on cost too, not to mention a grower penalty.
This is a good example of how breeders can not only increase their returns from fibre but also why breeders should listen very carefully to the market and produce to its demand.

Bill,
You are, of course correct!
These breeders (I haven't met anyone yet) all mate 12 to 24 days after birthing as normal mating management and they all wean at 4.5 to 5 months of age and none self wean.
It surely is another culture in so many ways compared to the USA!


Ian Watt
Alpaca Consulting USA
www.alpacaconsultingUSA.com
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scorrybreck

137 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2006 :  11:13:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit scorrybreck's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Ian,
what is the majority micron range of the 60 tonne fibre to be processed by AAFL?

Caecilia Goetze
Scorry Breck Alpaca
Ontario farm with champion quality breeding stock
THE PROOF IS IN THE PASTURE
www.scorrybreckalpaca.com
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