Alpacas nibble only the tops of grasses and other plants; they do not rip plants out of the ground, resulting in less disturbance of the vegetation and allowing it to grow back.
Alpaca feet do not damage the pasture.
In contrast to goats and sheep, which have sharp hooves that damage pasture and soil, alpacas have two toes with toenails on top and a soft pad on the bottom of each foot that minimises their effect on pasture-land. In other words, the grass system is not disturbed by alpacas, allowing the soil and their habitat to remain intact.
Alpacas do not use the land or water destined for food production.
The natural habitat of alpacas is about 3800 metres above sea level. At this altitude, the water supply is natural and the land is generally not suitable for agriculture. This makes alpacas more environmentally friendly than all other fibre-producing livestock that often contribute significantly to serious environmental problems. Vegetable fibres also represent a problem for the environment. For example, in Australia, 2830 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of cotton.
Alpacas are highly efficient animals.
The efficiency of alpacas is especially notable considering that they require much less food intake than most other fibre-producing livestock. Cashmere goats, for example, require at least two times the amount of dry grass that alpacas need to produce 1kg of clean fibre.
Alpacas save energy.
The treatment system for the water used in the washing process of alpaca fibre requires less chemicals and energy than what is needed for other animal fibres.
Compared to other animal fibres, alpaca fibre has a low grease content (2.8 - 3.9%), which means that much less energy and chemicals are required to treat the water used for its washing process.
Wide range of products.
The fineness of the alpaca fibre ranges from 18 microns to more than 35 microns, which makes it possible to produce everything from extremely fine and light products to thick blankets with superior thermal performance.
Excellent appearance and durability.
The physical characteristics of alpaca fibre, such as its range of colours, structure and resistance, make it possible to create garments of an exceptionally fine quality, lustre and drape, properties difficult to replicate using any other textile fibre. The strength, density and curvature of the alpaca fibre make alpaca garments very resistant to wear and tear.
Efficient humidity absorption.
Due to the hygroscopic characteristics of the alpaca fibre, garments made of alpaca readily absorb moisture from the environment. In other words, the uncomfortable feeling of a “damp garment” is minimised in very humid climates.
Incredibly soft touch.
Microscopically, animal fibres have the appearance of a palm tree with scales. While the height of the scales in wool is between 0.65 to 0.90 microns, the alpaca fibre hardly reaches 0.25 microns. These characteristics make alpaca fibre much softer and smoother than other animal fibres or cotton.
High performance in extreme weather conditions.
Alpaca fibre is an excellent insulator for both heat and cold. Due to this property, home products made of alpaca fibre like carpets, blankets, quilts and curtains are very well-known within the category of home products. Alpaca fibre is also highly flame-resistant, making it an important eco-friendly natural fibre material used by the construction industry to insulate homes and businesses. Moreover, alpaca fibre is more flame resistant than vegetable or synthetic fibres. In case of fire, alpaca does not melt onto the skin as synthetics fibres do.
Alpacas are an important source of income for many Andean families.
To more than one million small alpaca farmers in the central Andes of South America, alpacas are an important pillar for livelihood. Alpacas are also an extremely important element of cultural identity. According to the Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) census in 2012, a population of 3.7 million alpacas support these Peruvian families.