Two types of alpacas are huacaya (pronounced wuh-kai-ya) and suri. Both have fleeces that are soft and virtually free of guard hair.
Suris make up only 5 percent of the world population of alpacas. The lustrous, silky fiber of the suri fleece hangs down in separate locks, sometimes like dreadlocks, giving the suri an entirely different appearance. A high quality suri coat is so lustrous, it gistens inthe sunlight and feels like cool silk to the touch. There's nothing like the elegant look of a suri moving in full fleece (see below); it's like watching the wind blow across a field of wheat.
Fiorano, below, is a suri herdsire, now sold, but sire to several of our current alpacas.
All but one of the alpacas at Big Meadow Creek are suri alpacas.
Huacaya fiber is soft, crimpy fiber grows in right angles to the skin and gives them a "fluffy" appearance, like sheep. Caramel Swirl (below), who now lives on a friend's farm, is a huacaya.
The Camelid (Camelidae) family includes the alpaca, the llama, dromedaries, Bactrian camels, vicunas and guanacos.
Alpacas were bred specifically for their fiber. They are a good deal smaller than llamas, who are heavy and strong enough to use for packing.
Kathryn, on the right, is a llama. You can see a difference in her size, the shape of her ears (more like bananas). Her fleece is not nearly as soft as alpaca fiber.
Look at the luster on this cria!