Non Conventional Fibres Association

Alpaca Fibres

Zoological information, Habitat and Fibre production

  • Alpacas are domesticated animals and unlike Vicuña they are pretty friendly and peaceful. 
  • The Scientific name of alpaca is Vicuña pacos, and they belong to the family of camelids.
  • The average lifespan it holds is of 15-20 years.
  • They are native to the high Andes mountains, living at high altitudes and in temperate regions in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
  • Among these countries, Peru holds the majority of the world trade for producing alpaca hair. 
  • The amount of fibre obtained per animal is around 3-5 kg as it produces single coated fleece.
  • The annual production of alpaca hair fibres was of 4000-6500 tons during the year 2015.
  • In a year, alpaca can produce 4-5 times more hair than a cashmere or pashmina goat. 

Types of Alpaca fibres

  • Huacaya and Suri are the two breeds of Alpaca, and each produces different fibres, and the cross breeds of these two species are known as Huarizo and Misti. 
  • Approximately, there are 3 million alpacas worldwide with 94% living in South America. The worldwide population of the alpacas is made up of 93% huacaya alpaca & 7% suri alpaca.
  • The Huacaya breed produces a full coat that appears round, wooly, crimped, short, and dense. 
  • The Suri breed offers hair like long and straight dreadlocks, which is rare and carries excellent lustre. 
  • Therefore, they are sought after in many markets and are expensive. 
  • The huacaya fibres possess greater tensile strength and elongation at break property as compared to the suri fibres. 
  • Since the Huacaya fibres are naturally crimped, they are elastic, thus are preferred over suri fibres for knitting.

Table 1. Physical & mechanical properties and chemical composition of areca nut fibres

Physical & Mechanical properties [2,3]

Fibre Length

200-550 mm


20-36 µm

Linear density

0.802 tex

Elongation at break


Breaking strength

11.2 cN


14.23 cN/tex

Chemical composition [4]



Dust/Vegetable matter






Features of fibre

  • The alpaca hair is lighter in weight, provides better insulation, higher pilling resistance and is soft and durable.
  • It is naturally water repellent.
  • It is flame resistant and odour resistant.
  • It is finer than cashmere, warmer than goose down fibres, softer than cotton, smoother than silk, and more breathable than the other fibre-knitted fabrics.
  • The alpaca hair fleece comes in more than 22 natural colours and huacaya alone can provide with 8 different natural coloured hair fibres. 
  • It wicks moisture away and resists piling thus, making it suitable for wearing in all seasons.


  • It is preferably used to produce knitwear due to its outstanding natural properties.
  • Also, woven products include clothing accessories like shawls, stoles, rugs, etc.
  • It is blended with other fibres like wool, cotton, and silk to create a wider range of fabrics and other products. 
  • The garments such as sportswear, winterwear and other fashion garments are made out of alpaca hair are reigning over different American and European fashion markets.