Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How fiber sorting affects your profitability

There is no easy button to determine how much profit you can make from your fiber.

There are several factors that determine your fiber profitability. The amount of each grade you produce is a major one.  Significant savings in processing costs can be realized when a certain volume is reached.  Decreased processing costs means an increased profitability. When used for the appropriate products, each grade will have a unique processing cost and profit.

Sorting your fiber increases your profitability by increasing usable fiber and decreasing loss during processing as well as reducing the amount of true waste. 
One of the many benefits of having your fiber sorted is receiving individual information on each alpaca!

Weighing each part of the fleece by body area gives you important information that assists you in making breeding decisions.

It is very common to have several grades within each body area.  This is why it is important to sort the fiber, not just rely on the histogram.  In the blanket you may find WR2 and WL3.  Not only are there two different grades but also two different lengths (WR is worsted length and WL is woolen length).  Each length category should be processed differently for best results. Unfortunately, it is also common for an alpaca's fiber to change from year to year. It's important to track those changes.  Individual sort records from your Certified Sorter can do just that.  The more information you have the better breeding choices you can make.  Uniformity of the fiber is the most important aspect we can be breeding for, within the individual fleece and from year to year.  

If you had thrown away the neck on the alpaca listed in the chart above you would have been throwing away socks.  Socks are the easiest products to sell.  Let's look at the 2 lbs of lower leg, belly and apron.   We've been profiting $29/ lb on that fiber.  If you had thrown that away you would have lost $58.00.  Hold up a second, $58.00 minus $35 to shear that alpaca, minus $15.00 to have that fiber sorted...I'd still have $8 in my pocket!! But wait, I still have all the other fiber from this animal yet to process in to products!  Pure profit!!! Hmmmmm....

Depending on the grades you end up with in your clip from year to year, you can expect an average of a 40% increase in profit by having your fiber sorted.

So you see there are a lot of variables in deciding how profitable you will be when you turn your raw fiber into product. 

How much can you produce?
What grades do you produce?
What end product should you have produced?
Where should you process it?
How should you sell it?
Should you have it sorted?

Thank you to for the above information.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Cold Winter's Night...And Day...And Night

The forecast for this weekend was that is was going to be cold - really cold - and the weather certainly followed through.  We prepared the barn early with six 1400 lb bales of hay and sealed up all of the doors except for one so that the alpacas could access the water.  However, with the
windchill ranging from -20 to -45 F, the water heaters could not keep up and they were quickly frozen over.

The neighbor's llama MrSnuffleupagus was still out in the pasture during the major part of the storm. The owner had tried to catch him to bring him over to our barn earlier in the day, but he wouldn't be caught.  The next morning, three of us walked about 1/4 of a mile in the screaming wind and found him curled up next to a hay bale.  Reluctant to get up, we pushed and pulled him until he eventually stood.  Once he crossed into our pasture, he eagerly pulled on the lead rope toward the barn, anxious to get inside.  Once inside, Snuffy stood in a stall, shaking, unable to eat with his mouth and body so cold.  Eventually, he started rubbing his eyes against the

wall and was able to eat the pellets and hay ready for him.  We walked him around, the alpacas enthusiastic about the new arrival, and his body warmed.  In about an hour, he was thawed, eating, drinking and being snoopy again.

The wind packed the pasture with hard, steep snow banks.  Some of the drifts are over five feet and flow over the fence.  The horses received a surplus of food and were full of rich hay and feed. The guard dogs were brought inside and snuggled up on carpet, glad to be out of the freezing weather.
This photo is taken from our back window.  During the storm, we could barely see the fence and definitely not the barn.

We are now climbing back to O F, which is always a little depressing to me!  However, we are on the edge of Spring and makes the slow thaw a little more tolerable.