All About Alpaca

Alpacas are members of the camelid family, native to the Andes Mountains in South America . Beginning in 1984, they were first imported to the milder climates of the United States. There are two breeds of these engaging animals. Huacayas have dense and crimpy fleece, giving them a "teddy bear" appearance, while suris have longer and more penciled locks.

Behavior

Fleece and Fiber

Maintenance

Alpaca Specifics

Investment

CARE

Just some info regarding the care of alpacas: Alpacas are a gentle and intelligent breed. They originate from South America - in particular from the Andes mountains in the countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. There are two types of alpacas - the Huacaya and the Suri. Huacaya (wah-ki-ah) alpacas are the most common type of alpaca in the US. Huacaya alpacas have fiber that is tightly crimped and stands perpendicular to the alpacas' body. These type of alpacas appear to look like fluffy teddy bears when full-fleeced. Suri (surrey) alpacas produce fleece that hangs in long, curly locks that look almost like dreadlocks. Their luxurious fleece hangs elegantly to the ground. Suri alpacas are known for the luster of their fleece, a highly desired trait in the commercial textile industry. Alpacas come in 22 natural recognized colors. Alpacas live 15 - 20 years and adult female alpaca produces one cria (alpaca baby) per year with an average gestation of 11.5 months. Adult alpacas are approximately 36" tall at the withers and generally weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. Because of their size, alpacas can be transported easily using a minivan. Alpacas are extremely gentle and easy to handle. Because of their gentle nature, alpacas do well with children and are often incredibly curious about them. A child who sits still in a pasture will almost always invite a friendly visit from the alpacas that live there. Alpacas live in herds and are very social. Alpacas NEED to live among other alpacas to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Alpacas don't have incisors, horns, hooves or claws. So they pose no threat to humans or other barnyard animals. Alpacas are environmentally friendly too and have low impact on the pastures in which they live. Alpaca Care Alpacas eat grass, hay, grain and minerals and need a clean source of water on a daily basis. Where a good-quality pasture is unavailable, alpacas can be fed good-quality grass hay. Alpacas are efficient eaters utilizing all three of their stomachs to get the most nutrition out of their feed. Caring for alpacas is easy compared to other breeds of livestock. Alpacas may need de-worming vaccination once per month (check with your local vet), they need toenail trimming from time-to-time, and they need to be sheared on an annual basis. Because of their intelligence, alpacas are easy to train and lead well once trained. Clean-up is also easy since alpacas use communal dung piles in only a few places in the paddock. Alpacas require minimal fencing and can be pastured at 5 to 10 per acre. History Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. Alpacas are now being successfully raised and enjoyed throughout North America and abroad. There are currently around 50,000 alpacas in the US, being run on approximately 2000 farms. The alpacas slow reproductive rate means that the national herd size will remain relatively small for many years to come. Supported by an active breed association, a state of the art registry, and a growing fiber cooperative, the future of alpacas is indeed bright.

Resources