Alpaca fibre is one of the most ethical products currently available that is completely eco-friendly and cruelty-free at the same time.
IT’S OK TO WEAR ALPACA WOOL!
No, this is not a cliche. Let me bring you a few facts.
The first and main aspect that must be pointed out is that alpacas are not killed to get their fleece.
Alpacas are not sheared in the first place because of the fibre. It is just a luxury addition to a necessary process. They need their fleece to be cut in order to avoid health risks (mainly overheating). Huacaya alpacas are normally shorn each year and Suri, depending on the growth rate of their fleece, every 2 years.
Shearing is not a natural experience for alpacas, which might cause stress on the animal. And yes, some alpacas do scream like they are being murdered when they are being sheared. They are spitting too (not vomiting!). Furthermore, most alpacas are shorn by lying them down on the shearing board / shearing table and restraining them in a rope harness. It doesn’t look all that fun for the alpaca, does it?
Now it’s time for the facts.
Shearing is normally a 3-person job – in addition to the shearer, and the handler holding the alpaca’s head, it is useful to have a third person to remove the fleece as it comes off the alpaca. Shearing usually takes around five to ten minutes per animal for an experienced alpaca shearer. It is also an ideal time to have your alpaca’s teeth and toenails checked and trimmed if necessary.
Animals are put on their side and restrained by their feet to be shorn with the minimum of fuss and to protect the animal from cutting! Please take it into account that some alpacas are shy and really skittish. Once an alpaca has had all the fleece removed from one side of their body, the alpaca is rolled over and the fleece removed from the other side. After then – it is free, lighter and happier.
Is it possible that animals accidentally get cut during the shearing process?
Honestly, yes. However, this is absolutely not a standard! We can also cut ourselves when we shave our bodies, can’t we? That’s why shearers always provide veterinary care in case it does accidentally happen.
One more thing. People are people. How many people mistreat even their own family? Nobody can guarantee that alpacas are treated with respect at all farms. That is why it is so important to check the source of the fleece and yarn. Here at Alpacappella Jewellery, I source fibre from friendly farms (mainly British and American) which care for the health, safety and comfort of their animals. Over there alpacas are treated as such a family member!
Eco-friendly & Sustainable
Alpacas are the most environmentally friendly of agricultural grazing animals. Can be easily said that they live lightly on the earth 🙂
But for what reasons?
1- Alpacas have soft, padded feet that do not cut into the topsoil. While many animal’s hooves are hard and rough (e.g. sheep), the alpaca can roam the lands without leaving a trace.
2- Alpacas consume lower amounts of both water and forage relative to other livestock, and their efficient three-stomach digestive system metabolizes most of what they eat.
3- Alpacas carefully treat the grass that they eat. While many grazing animals pull the grass (and its roots) out with their teeth, alpaca gently eat the tips, leaving the roots carefully intact. They enjoy eating brush, fallen leaves, and other vegetation that is often undesirable to other species.
4- Alpacas have a communal dung pile that they use and their waste very often is used as a fertilizer, making herding alpacas even more sustainable.
5- Alpaca fleeces are relatively easy to process due to this absence of lanolin. It means it doesn’t require chemical treatment during production. In fact, the fleece is only washed once during the production process, after it is spun.
6- All parts of the alpaca fleece are useful; the higher micron parts may be used as natural weed mats around trees, building insulation or for indoors rugs.
7- Undyed alpaca fleece is fully biodegradable.
8- Alpaca fibre is one of the strongest mammal fibres in the world. The products made of alpaca fleece are strong, durable and barely need to be washed (alpaca fibre is odour-resistant) which means that you have your alpaca pieces for longer and don’t waste water.
If you want to read about the wide range of advantages of the fleece itself, take a look HERE.