John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Suri Alpacas

Suri Alpacas are distinguished by their long flowing locks of fleece, similar to the fleece of an Angora goat.  There is still a good deal of debate as to whether Suri alpacas constitute a distinct breed of alpacas, or if they are simply a different fleece type.

The Suri fleece type makes up less than 10% of the global alpaca population.  Suri fiber is known for it luster and drape, and is most often seen in woven fabrics.suri alpaca

Some controversy remains about Suri alpacas. 

In 1997, Dr. Raul W. Ponzoni of the South Australian Research and Development Institute released his paper titled "Phenotypes Resulting From Huacaya by Huacaya, Suri by Huacaya and Suri by Suri Alpaca Crossings" postulating that the Suri fleece type is the result of simple Mandelian genetics - that the Suri type fleece is the result of a simple dominant gene.

The single gene theory has been widely accepted in Australia, where breeding programs actively cross huacaya and suri fleece types in order to produce more suri, and to produce alpacas homozygous for the suri gene.  While there are proponents of the single gene theory in the United States, a significant portion of US breeders are yet to be convinced.

Those that argue against the single gene theory offer several  points in support of their position:

  • The distinction between Suri and Huacaya fleece types may represent an artificial dichotomy.  Some believe that there are intermediate fleece types that are simply ignored in the single gene theory.  These folks point argue that the single gene theory falsely categorizes "poor" Suri and Huacaya fleece types, when in fact these animals display an intermediate fleece sometimes referred to as a "Chili".
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are differences between the two types of alpacas that extend beyond fleece type alone.  Specifically, these people would point to larger, stronger backstrap musculature and a more high strung, "flighty" disposition.

 Proponents of the single gene theory base their argument on the lack of verified Suri alpacas being produced by Huacaya/Huacaya pairings, the statistical incidence of Huacaya alpacas produced from Suri/Suri pairings, and the results of Suri/Huacaya cross breeding programs.

The controversy surrounding the subject has led to some dissension within the US alpaca industry. There remains some prejudice against Huacaya alpacas produced from Suri parents, and also prejudice against Suri alpacas produced from Suri/Huacaya pairings. a prejudice that is often reflected in market prices.

Suri breeders have formed their own association - The Suri Network - which has membership from across the US, Canada and other countries.

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"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
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