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 1. Alpacas 101: Getting Started
 fiber quality
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azwelshponygirl

2 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2013 :  09:00:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello, I am new to alpacas and have started with fiber boys. My question is at what age does the fiber loose its quality, and when is it no longer of any value? Also if I geld my boys at the age of 4 years will this help maintain the quality longer? Thanks so much. I am truly smitten with these guys and see more in my future

pawsnpaca

373 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2013 :  3:50:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm sure others will chime in but FWIW, in my opinion there's never going to be a time when their fleece has "no value." It all depends on what you want to do with the fleece. Last year I had a full range of fleece quality in my herd - from lovely Grade 2 to really coarse "rug" fiber. I had it Certified Sorted and turned into roving by grade - and it was the Grade 4 and 5 that has sold. I have almost all of my Grade 2 still. Beautiful fine fiber only brings in money if you can actually sell it to someone (or turn it into something that sells).

In the last year I've actually fallen in love with core spun yarn and all the things I can make from it (mostly woven or crocheted rugs). Core spun is usually made from the clean but coarse fiber that a lot of people tell you to just throw away (e.g., the "seconds and thirds"). A friend who carries a variety of products - from high end yarn to the bumps of core spun says she has a hard time holding on to enough of the core spun to be able to make rugs for sale.

As much as I can appreciate the beauty of fine alpaca fiber, I actually intentionally purchased some white "not so great" fleeces from another farm this year so I'd have plenty of "rug fiber" that I could have dyed and add to my otherwise very "brown" bumps!

Do a search on Etsy.com on "alpaca core spun" and "alpaca crochet rugs" to see the great things you can make with coarse alpaca fiber. And FWIW - "coarse" is a relative term. The first rug I made out of core spun is at the side of my bed and it feel FABULOUS when I step out on to it in the morning!

As far as when to geld your boys... it's healthier for them to remain intact (assuming they don't have hormone-driven behavioral issues). If you want to geld them to try to maintain fleece fineness, you probably should do as soon as you can AFTER they have finished growing (doing it sooner than that could affect their how their joints and muscles develop). I believe most people recommend something in the ball park of 18 months to two years.

Have fun with your boys!

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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Mary Jane

1152 Posts

Posted - 10/14/2013 :  2:00:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mary Jane's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Lisa,
I'm interested in your reasoning behind the statement that it is healthier for the males to remain intact. Please expand on this.
Thanks!
Mary Jane

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

2 Posts

Posted - 10/14/2013 :  5:34:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello again, Yes I to want to know. We raise dwarf dairy goats and welsh ponies and always "fix" the boys
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pawsnpaca

373 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2013 :  12:55:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This topic has come up on the forum before, so you may be interested in this thread. http://www.alpacanation.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=8313

My perspective may be colored by what I know about dogs. There is a growing body of research that indicates that neutering a dog before full maturity causes the growth plates to not close when they should, resulting in a tall, lanky dog who is much more prone to hip and joint problems (a particular problem in "working" dogs - such as those who do dog agility). Research has also pointed toward decreased muscle mass, and a higher incidence of certain diseases and cancers (search on line for a document called "Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete" and/or another called "Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay/Neuter in Dogs" for details).

It may be inappropriate for me to extend to alpacas the assumption that intact males will be healthier than gelded ones, but I've personally chosen to leave my boys with the equipment God gave them unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. I consider behavioral issues to be one good reason for gelding. If I had a fiber herd where I felt strongly about keeping the fiber as fine as possible, I might geld for that reason as well (although, as I mentioned, I LIKE having some coarse fiber!).

I know the common wisdom is that gelded boys maintain their fineness. Does anyone know of a study that "proves" this? Obviously we can see the fiber getting coarser as an animal ages, but there is no real way to know if gelding him would have prevented that, right?

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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Christiane

2830 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2013 :  5:12:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I think that I have to agree with Lisa on the spay/neuter with dogs. I do not spay or neuter my dogs unless it is needed for some reason, and if I do, it is not until they are all mature dogs. My dogs generally live a good long life. Who knows, maybe that is good for alpacas as well.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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sweetharmonyfarm

64 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2013 :  10:03:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit sweetharmonyfarm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have an all male farm. I agree with Lisa in that I'd rather leave my boys intact unless there is some compelling reason otherwise. Several weeks ago we brought home 3 new boys and long story short, my 3 'big boys', the 200+ pounders, went after the little ones and we felt our only choice was to call in the vet to geld them. I asked my vet about the myth of 'gelding keeps the fiber finer longer.' She thinks that fiber quality is basically a function of food and genetics. I'd also add that stress, from whatever source, most likely plays an important part too.

I'm more concerned with the health and quality of the fiber overall, i.e. uniformity and strength (no breakage), rather than 'fineness.'

As for dogs and cats ~ well, I've always had mine spayed at 6 - 7 months and they've lived very long and healthy lives.

Mona Kennedy
Sweet Harmony Farm
Deerfield, NH
603.463.3003
mona@sweetharmonyfarm.com
www.sweetharmonyfarm.com

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alpacastarr

688 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2013 :  5:47:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit alpacastarr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by pawsnpaca



I know the common wisdom is that gelded boys maintain their fineness. Does anyone know of a study that "proves" this? Obviously we can see the fiber getting coarser as an animal ages, but there is no real way to know if gelding him would have prevented that, right?

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831




Couldn't site the study but remember it was done and the result was gelding had no effect on fineness or rate of coarsening.

I consider gelding an unnecessary risk and would only do it for behavior management then only in a mature, full grown male.

Another study says that alpacas may be safely (growth plates) gelded at 12 months where llamas need to wait until 18 to 24 months.

Starr


Starr
Venezia Dream Farm
Candler, NC
http://alpacanation.com/farmsandbreeders/03_viewfarm.asp?name=11404
http://www.veneziadream.com/
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nyala

3320 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2013 :  6:51:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi,

I don't think gelding really preserves fiber quality. I would do it as a management tool in an animal over 2 if he was too aggressive with his pasture mates or with people. The cost of gelding in our area is about $250 which is just too much to justify at this point.

We have an intact male who is 14 and his micron is still a hair under 20. I think it's just genetics.

Ann

D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
and
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
www.alpacanation.com/nyalafarm.asp
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