Cute and lovable. Their fleece has been around for centuries.
• Alpacas are members of the camelid (or camel) family. They are mild-tempered, gregarious animals with an inquisitive nature and a penchant for bringing great delight to their owners.
• There are two different breed-types: the huacaya (wah-KI'-yal and suri ("surrey"). Although both types of alpacas are physiologically nearly identical, one main physical difference is clearly identifiable: the fleece. Huacaya fleece has a degree of "waviness," or "crimp," thus giving huacayas a fluffy, "Teddy Bear-like" appearance, Suris, on the other hand., have no crimp in their fleeces, so their fiber clings to itself, forming beautiful "pencil locks" that hang down from the body in gentle, silky cascades .
• Indigenous to South America, the alpaca is raised for its soft fleece. This fleece is sheared once a year, yielding roughly five to ten pounds (= 2 1/4 to 4 1/2 kilos). After only minimal preparation, it is ready to be spun into yarn (for knitting, crocheting, and weaving) or used to make felt (for creating hats, cloth, or moccasins).
• Alpacas stand approximately 36 inches ( =1 metre) tall at the withers (the area where the neck and spine come together) and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds (= 45 to 90 kilos).
• They require only modest amounts of food (approximately 1 1/2 to 2% of their body weight in hay per day), plus free access to fresh water and freechoice minerals. Some owners also supplement their animals' diets with additional grains and crumbles, based on specific nutritional needs and preferences.
Are alpacas easy to work with?
Yes, alpacas are very intelligent animals that respond to a variety of training and handling techniques. They learn to halter and lead in just a few training sessions, and even children find most alpacas to be safe and easy to handle.
Are there organized exhibitions and competitions for alpacas?
Yes, there are many alpaca shows (both showring and fleece-judging competitions) held throughout North America where owners can showcase their animals and fleeces.
Is it OK to have just one alpaca?
As a general rule, the answer is no. Alpacas have very strong herding instincts and need the companionship of other alpacas to thrive. Gender-appropriate (or neutered) llamas sometimes will successfully bond with an alpaca. Otherwise, it is best to provide each alpaca with a companion alpaca of the same gender.
Do I need a lot of land to raise alpacas?
No. The specific answer is quite variable, and is contingent on such factors as: type of terrain, amount of annual precipitation, seasonal factors, availability of pasture and/or hay, etc. For arid climates animals are usually fed on “dry lot,” with little or no pasture feeding. In this instance, the number of animals that can be raised is generally between two to six per acre. In milder, wetter climates with abundant fresh pasture available, however, ten or more alpacas per acre might be the norm.
I live in the city; would it he possible for me to own alpacas?
Absolutely. Urban dwellers can hoard (or "agist") their alpacas at nearby farms/ranches so that they can enjoy the benefits of ownership while living in a large city or suburb.
How much do alpacas cost?
The price of an alpaca will depend on its quality (especially conformation and fleece qualities); its bloodlines; positive traits proven to be heritable in its offspring; whether it is a male at female; age; breeding history; and a host of other traits and factors. We recommend talking to a variety of breeders before making a purchase decision. Also, please be sure and consult with your tax advisor about the effects of alpaca purchases on your specific tax situation. For most breeders, the purchase of alpaca breeding stock offers many favorable tax advantages, as well as the potential for significant income generation.
We hope to talk with you further about alpacas and to invite you to tour our farm for a hands-on alpaca experience and education.
Call to schedule a tour today...make it a group or family outing. The more the merrier and the kids will love the alpacas.