Camelidae living in the high-altitude regions of Peru, Bolivia and Argentine have wool of excellent quality (Bustinza, 1979). The wool of the vicugna is especially highly prized. This wild species, living in the high Andes, has very short wool, 2 to 3 cm long with an average yield of only 150 g/animal. The fine internal fibres are brownyellow, and the coarser external fibers are brick red giving an overall red appearance. The vicugna also has a large hank of fibres growing on the chest which are longer and stronger than the fibres on the rest of the body. These chest fibres are light-yellow to white in colour. The ponchos and shawls made from vicugna wool are highly prized and very costly.
The guanaco is found in the valleys of Patagonia. The body is covered with two types of wool; very fine internal fibres which are light brown, and coarser and longer external fibres which are red-brown in colour. The head is covered with short black hair. The young have an especially fine pelt (Figure 2).
The llama also lives in the heights of the Andes. These animals give about 2 kg of wool per animal per year. The fibre is long and coarse. It has a variety of colours, black, brown and white, often all appearing on one animal. The wool is used for making string bags or sacks, blankets and clothing.
The alpaca is an animal of great economic importance. The wool is an important item of this animal. There are two types of alpacas, the Huacaya and the Suri which are easily differentiated by their wool. The wool fibres of the Huacaya are rough with a well-defined crimp. This wool is very similar to sheep wool and is easy to dye. The wool grows perpendicular to the body and forms compact staples. The wool of the Suri, on the other hand, is completely different and is of coarser quality. The fibres are shiny and smooth and have no crimp formation. The wool is not easily dyed. The wool grows parallel to the body, forming lank, round staples that fall from the body leaving a line down the middle of the back.
Much research has been done concerning the fibres of the various animals. This has been well presented by Bustinza (1979). The fibres are affected by age and sex as well as by nutrition and diseases. The production of wool and hair of adult animals ranges between 1 kg (El- Amin, 1979) and to 5 kg (Keikin, 1976). The wool and hair of the old world camels is of lesser quality and value than that of the new-world camels. The Bactrian gives more wool than the dromedary and its wool is also of a higher quality (Dong Wei, 1979). Wool is shed at the end of winter, and if not gathered, the animal rubs itself against trees and bushes until the wool is discarded. In China about 1 500 tons of wool are collected per year.
This wool is used for making padded cloth, quilts and mattresses. In addition to the wool, there is long hair that can also be sheared. This is used for making rope. The hair from the dromedary is used for making clothes, tents, carpets (Cloudley-Thompson, 1969), robes, saddle-girths and blankets (El-Amin, 1979).
The Bactrian camel can produce fibers with fine soft down to survive at Central Asian cold desert condition. Bactrian camels are molting 1-1.5 months of summer from May to July during this time in the camel skin remains long hairs that are framework of camel wool.
Camel fine wool grows from July to December by an average of 2.12cm a month. Average wool yield of Bactrian camels are 2.6-8.3 kg depending on age and gender. In the whole camel wool occupied 21.6-35.5% of coarse wool and 70% of fine wool. Bactrian camel coarse and fine wool contains relatively different amounts of fine down with 14.4-23.6 microns or cashmere. For example, the coarse wool contains 66.5-84.7% and fine wool contains 86.0-94.4% of fine soft downs (Luvsan, 1989).
Young and female camel hairs have fine soft down that is similar quality to goat cashmere. According to grading of animal fiber are fibers with 14-20 micron as cashmere, 21-23 with microns as cashgora and fibers with more 23 mi- crons as mohair. Mongolian goat fibers included in fine cashmere grade, now one kg raw cashmere sold at $40- 45 in domestic market. But same amount camel wool market price was only $3-4 in domestic fiber market.
This bigger price difference related to less development of the camel wool process capacities. In online shops of high design clothing found images of pure camel wool luxury men coat made by Italian producers may you thought that is made by Arabian camel wool but it is not true, these luxury men’s coat made by Mongolian Bactrian camel wool.
Because, secrets of the luxury products to being in integrated with central Asian camel’s cashmere, Italian camel silk producing technologies using mountain’s pure water combining Spain’s thorny plant’s head and Italian style superior design of clothes (Luvsan,1989).
Camel hides are used for making shoes and sandals. The hide of the dromedary is not good quality, and is mainly used for making whips and saddles (El-Amin, 1979). Hide is used to make a gourdlike container for water and milk. The skin of the vicugna is highly prized and can bring in US$ 1 000 per skin (Bustinza, 1979).
The guanaco has a skin of good quality and, among other things, is used for making bed covers, coats and mantels.
Llama hide is used for making shoes, sandals and bags. The meat, skins and furs of the new-world camels are thus far more important for man than the milk and haulage ability of the old-world camels. Nevertheless, the food producing characteristics of the desert-living camel, in respect of both milk and meat, are complemented by accompanying yields of wool, hides, skins and bones, which all help to provide man with clothing, shelter and other useful products. When breeding for the ideal milk producer, the meat, as provided by the calves, and the wool can supplement local industry. As with beef, the most economical age for slaughter, and the age of the animal having the best-tasting meat must be determined.