MI-Alpaca is returning to the Ag Expo lineup to show that raising alpacas for their fiber can provide an additional income source.
Native to South America, alpacas require special care but offer a prized product. Alpaca fiber is warmer and softer than sheep's wool and hypoallergenic. Alpacas are known as luxury fiber-producing animals and have been bred for fiber production for more than 5,000 years.
Although a relatively new organization, MI-Alpaca, an association of alpaca owners, has 65 members. Organizers say that there are 8,000 registered alpacas in Michigan.
MI-Alpaca representatives will conduct several demonstrations during Ag Expo, July 16-18 at Michigan State University.
Once an alpaca is shorn, the raw fleece must be skirted. Skirting is the first step in processing a fleece. Skirting is necessary to ensure quality in the finished product by making sure that no vegetation, dung or coarse guard hair fibers are mixed in with the fine, soft fibers of the prime fleece. In this demonstration, presenters will discuss how a fleece is carefully cleaned, examined and analyzed before it is sent to be processed into products for textile artists.
Skirting demonstrations will take place at 10 a.m. July 16 and 17, and at noon July 18.