Gateway Alpacas arrow Alpaca arrow Assessing Fiber
John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
Alpaca Farming
Alpaca Industry
Alpacas for Sale
Our Alpaca Farm
Alpaca Pictures
Supporting Links

Assessing Fiber

The alpaca industry has developed a predisposition for fiber measurement of individual animals, purportedly to aid in breeding decisions and breed improvement , and generally presented in the form of a "histogram". Understanding what a histogram is, and what the numbers it reports mean, is important, as is understanding what a histogram does not measure and what the numbers do not tell.

There are several factors beyond what is represented in a histogram that should be used in assessing fiber.

Hand Grading

Of surprise to many people is the fact that the grading/classing of virtually all natural animal fibers still begins by hand. While technology provides the means to provide objective measurements and confirmation of the sorter's skill, no machine has yet been developed that can replace the sight and touch required for accurate classing.

Click to continue...

Understanding Histograms

A histogram is little more than a bar chart of frequency distribution, organizing a group of data points into specified ranges. It condenses a data series into an easily interpreted visual, which while convenient can also lead to an oversimplified interpretation of the data.

Click to continue...

Utility of Histograms

The US alpaca industry's obsession with micron reporting and histograms began early, and is reflected in a number of articles that appeared in the ARI Journal between 1996 and 1999. Whether this reflects sound science or culture is arguable.

Click to continue...
Alpaca Sales

"I am always telling you that it is all rubbish," she continued, turning a broad expanse of alpaca-covered back upon her audience. "I am always telling you that you are no more a count than Fischelowitz is a grand duke, that the whole thing is a foolish imagination which you have stuck into your head, as one sticks tobacco into a paper shell..."

- F. Marion Crawford
A Cigarette-Maker's Romance
About the Quotations