Suri Fleece

The fleece is the primary distinguishing feature of the suri alpaca. The animal is covered with lustrous, silky, locking fibre, prized both in the show ring and by processors. The fleece hangs from a centre part – neck through to tail – with the locks lying close to the skin in a draped, free-swinging curtain.

Important characteristics of suri fleece:

  1. Uniformity – locks should be uniform in structure from the base of the ears to the hock, with particular attention to uniformity across the midline from shoulder to thigh. The forelock locking should be fine and fall forward from between the ears. Legs should be well covered to below the knee with a lock structure similar to the blanket, whilst the blanket fleece should extend well under the belly. Locks in the tail should be consistent with the overall locking style. Because the primary fibres (guard hairs) are rolled into the core of the lock, there is less apparent difference between the primary and secondary fibres, giving the impression of greater consistency of fleece character. There should be no evidence of medullated fibre throughout the blanket, neck, upper legs or forelock, nor should the primary fibre in the apron and at the bottom of the blanket be excessively long or coarse.
  2. Lustre – is of paramount importance, and a defining feature of suri fleece.
  3. Fineness and Handle – both influence the subjective feel of the fleece and its value. Fine fleece means greater weight, and the handle denotes the silkiness and softness of the feel.
  4. Lock Definition – locks should be well-defined, like the staples of huacaya fleece. They should be independent of each other, somewhat like dreadlocks, and exhibit a compact fullness. A lock may be loosely twisted, corkscrewed, curling or flat, as long as it is defined and consistent. The lock formation should show its shaping from close to the skin, becoming more pronounced as it moves towards the tip.
  5. Colour – like huacaya alpacas, suri fleece comes in varying shades of colour from white, through to brown and black, and may be a combination of colours. Consistency along a full lock remains important.

Other important factors defining suri fleece quality are:

  1. Uniformity of micron – processors require fleece with minimum fibre variation. The ideal would be to have all fleece coverage close to the same micron.
  2. Uniformity of colour – as with huacaya, processors expect fibre colour to match specification with limited colour contamination. Greys and some fawns can have colour variation within the fleece and at the extremities, but breeders aim to eliminate colour variation with selective breeding. The range of colours is the same as with huacayas.
  3. Uniformity of length – the aim is for 12 months growth consistently across the body with uniform fleece.

The Suri fibre development group publishes a newsletter which can be downloaded here.

The fleece is the primary distinguishing feature of the suri alpaca. The animal is covered with lustrous, silky, locking fibre, prized both in the show ring and by processors. The fleece hangs from a centre part – neck through to tail – with the locks lying close to the skin in a draped, free-swinging curtain. 

 

Important characteristics of suri fleece:

 

1.    Uniformity – locks should be uniform in structure from the base of the ears to the hock, with particular attention to uniformity across the midline from shoulder to thigh. The forelock locking should be fine and fall forward from between the ears. Legs should be well covered to below the knee with a lock structure similar to the blanket, whilst the blanket fleece should extend well under the belly. Locks in the tail should be consistent with the overall locking style. Because the primary fibres (guard hairs) are rolled into the core of the lock, there is less apparent difference between the primary and secondary fibres, giving the impression of greater consistency of fleece character. There should be no evidence of medullated fibre throughout the blanket, neck, upper legs or forelock, nor should the primary fibre in the apron and at the bottom of the blanket be excessively long or coarse.

 

2.    Lustre – is of paramount importance, and a defining feature of suri fleece.

 

3.    Fineness and Handle – both influence the subjective feel of the fleece and its value. Fine fleece means greater weight, and the handle denotes the silkiness and softness of the feel.

 

4.    Lock Definition – locks should be well-defined, like the staples of huacaya fleece. They should be independent of each other, somewhat like dreadlocks, and exhibit a compact fullness. A lock may be loosely twisted, corkscrewed, curling or flat, as long as it is defined and consistent. The lock formation should show its shaping from close to the skin, becoming more pronounced as it moves towards the tip.

 

5.    Colour – like huacaya alpacas, suri fleece comes in varying shades of colour from white, through to brown and black, and may be a combination of colours. Consistency along a full lock remains important. 

 

 

 

Other important factors defining suri fleece quality are:

 

1.    Uniformity of micron – processors require fleece with minimum fibre variation. The ideal would be to have all fleece coverage close to the same micron.

 

2.    Uniformity of colour – as with huacaya, processors expect fibre colour to match specification with limited colour contamination. Greys and some fawns can have colour variation within the fleece and at the extremities, but breeders aim to eliminate colour variation with selective breeding. The range of colours is the same as with huacayas.

 

 

3.    Uniformity of length – the aim is for 12 months growth consistently across the body with uniform fleece.