By Paul Vallely, Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing.
Monitoring objective fibre traits using fibre measurement makes a lot of sense. It allows fleece growers the opportunity to select alpacas that are likely to produce the more valuable fleeces. More importantly, it also provides an insight into the genetic potential of breeding stock to produce progeny capable of growing premium fleeces.
Fibre testing, however, can be like an ambush for the unwary. There is much misinformation as to what fibre test results mean and how they should be applied. The following is a short guide to help dispel some of these fibre testing myths.
How to Take a Fibre Sample
The main points to note regarding mid-side sampling are as follows:
- Always use the same sample site. This will enable you to effectively compare results. The preferred and most commonly used site is the mid-side. The mid-side is located half way between the fore and hind leg and half way down the body mass. The left hand side of the alpaca is normally used for the mid-side as the right side is exposed to judges when showing.
- To breed for reduction in variation of fibre diameter across the fleece, three sample sites may be used. In this case, the mid-side, the shoulder area and the pin-bone (hip) are recommended.
- For OFDA2000 testing, the size of the fibre sample needs to be only the width of two fingers.
- When cutting the sample from the alpaca, ensure the sample is taken as close to the skin as possible so that a complete test analysis can be conducted on the whole length of fibres.
- Place the sample in a paper bag. If a plastic bag is used, the bag should not be sealed as condensation build-up can distort the fibre measurements. Record the alpaca’s name and/or tag/IAR number on the bag,
- Send the samples to AAFT with any required documentation (refer www.aaft.com.au).