John & Susan Merrell
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Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
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Huacaya Alpacas

Huacaya alpacas are the more common of the two fleece types.  Their fiber is dense and stands perpendicular to their body, much like would be seen in sheep.

Huacaya (pronounced "wuh-kai-uh") alpacas are by far the most common type, constituting 90% of the world's population.

Huacaya AlpacaThere are those that would argue that the Huacaya alpaca constitutes a unique breed.  Others take the position that Huacaya and Suri alpacas simply represent two different fleece types, and that distinct breeds of alpacas have yet to be developed.  (A third group argues that one or more distinct breeds of alpacas have already been developed, but that is for another discussion.)

The Huacaya's dense, fluffy fleece makes it perfectly adapted to the harsh climate of the Andean highlands, where temperature swings can be extreme.  Some theorize that the prevalence of the Huacaya type is at least in part the result of their native climate, suggesting that the Suri type may have been more common prior to the Spanish conquest, when they were tended at much lower elevations than where most alpacas are found today.

The most sought after traits in a Huacaya are density and fineness of fleece.  These traits can be extremely difficult to attain simultaneously, there being some anecdotal evidence that fineness and density are somewhat antagonistic.  Still, significant progress has been made in breeding Huacayas with high yields of sub-20 micron fleece in recent years.

 
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- Paul Boyton
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