Location: Various
Date: Ongoing

For current class offerings, please visit

So… how do you prepare that alpaca fibre to make the best profits?


has worked diligently at preparing accessible education opportunities in Fibre Sorting available to all alpaca owners.

We appreciate the collaboration of Haliburton School of The Arts – Fleming College who co-sponsors this program.

Cathy Merkley, qualified classer and AOBA judge is the supervising classer overseeing the development and implementation of this programme.

Alpaca Fibre Sorting

Apprenticeship Program Outline

Part 1 – Alpaca Fibre Basic Farm Sorting Course – 3 day program

  • Evaluation (optional) – 5 skirted fleeces
  • Available certificate – Custom Farm Sorter

Part 2 – Alpaca Fibre Classer Certification Program – 4 day program

  • Evaluation : written exam


  • Evaluation (optional) : – 210 sorted and classed fleeces

– 25 samples, evaluated and graded

-40 hours supervised classing

  • Available certificate – Alpaca Certified Classer

Check the Alpaca Ontario website for scheduled classes.


This project is a joint effort between

Programme Description –

Alpaca Fibre: Basic Farm Sorting – Part 1 (Presented by Denise Martel)
Pre-requisite to Alpaca Fibre: Classer Certification – Part 2
The success of the alpaca fibre industry relies on quality fibre preparation at shearing time. Fibre preparation is as essential to adding value to your product as is the shearing. Participants will develop a good understanding of the basic principles of proper skirting and sorting techniques, as well as a basic understanding of classing and processing essentials. This information will help guide the alpaca farmers as they value-add to their raw fibre for better profitability.
Certification: Participants will receive a certificate of participation issued by Haliburton School of the Arts. This is simply a certificate stating that the holder has participated in the three day workshop. The Custom Farm Sorter Certificate is available as an option* for candidates selecting to have their skills evaluated. To obtain this certificate, participants will submit 5 skirted fleeces for evaluation by a qualified classer. The three-day Basic Farm Sorting course is a pre-requisite for participation in the Classer Certification course.

Alpaca Fibre: Classer Certification – Part 2 (Presented by Cathy Merkley)
A classer certification course will follow for those participants wishing to pursue their skill development. The course consists of a four-day in-depth program, including review of sorting practices, classing skill development, properties of alpaca fibre, appropriate blends, best end uses, batching fleeces for most profitable gains, and much more. Candidates may wish to improve their skills by participating in the four-day course which culminates in a written evaluation or may opt to participate in the Apprenticeship Programme for full Classer Certification.
Apprenticeship Programme (optional*): For Classer Certification, candidates will sort and class a minimum 200 huacaya fleeces and 10 suri fleeces over the course of 2 years. Evaluations: 1) written exam at the end of the four day course; 2) the candidate will submit 25 samples, 20 huacaya and 5 suri, evaluated for prescribed characteristics; 3) the candidate will participate in 40 hours of classing under the supervision of a qualified classer.

*Optional evaluations and apprenticeship portions are subject to an additional fee.

This programme has been developed by the Fibre Initiative Committee of Alpaca Ontario, in cooperation with Haliburton School of the Arts, with the assistance and under the supervision of Cathy Merkley, Certified Classer, AOA and IAJS Judge and in consultation with Cameron Holt of Australia, world renowned fibre expert.

Guest Speaker

Cathy Merkley

Cathy Merkley is a full partner in T’n’C Farms and The AlpacaLoft Fibre Studio with Trudy McCall. They live on adjoining properties totalling 18 acres near Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. They purchased three huacaya alpacas in 1996 and their herd now numbers over 50 huacayas and 8 suris. They operate an alpaca store and spin, dye, crochet, knit, and felt with alpaca and other natural fibres.

Cathy is an alpaca halter and fleece judge and has judged across Canada as well as in the United States and Germany. She took some of her judge’s training in Peru and has been back to help with fleece judge training. She certified as a fleece classer in 2004 and estimates that she has classed over 12,000 pounds of alpaca fibre since then. She teaches a variety of breeder and fibre specific workshops and seminars.

Cathy is a firm believer in the potential of the alpaca breeding and fibre industry and is committed to its growth and success.


Cathy Merkley is a full partner in T’n’C 


RR#1, 908 Carter Side Rd. Bruce Mines, ON P0R 1C0
Phone: 705-785-3389
Fax: 705-785-3389