After raising alpacas for over a decade we still get asked the question... what is an alpaca?
An alpaca is like a llama but smaller and their fiber is much finer and softer. They are one of the most precious animals on earth!
Alpacas are mainly raised for their incredible natural fine fiber. They are sheared once a year and each alpaca will produce between 1-3 lbs of prime fiber. Their blanket fleece is the finest of all their fibers. The neck and shoulder fiber is usually shorter, while the underbelly and leg fibers are courser and stronger than the blanket fibers. Read more about alpaca fiber here...
Lacey with her Friend the Cat!
Here is a bunch of interesting facts about alpacas...
- Alpacas are very intelligent and easily trained to eat from your hands or lead on a halter.
- They are quiet, peaceful animals that are easy and enjoyable to raise
- They make outstanding fibre producers, pets and companions.
- Extremely hardy, they adapt to most climates, elevations and conditions.
- Alpacas are very healthy and remarkably disease free. Treating a herd of alpacas is nothing like treating a herd of cattle.
- They can be handled by anyone and are safe around children.
- They very rarely spit at people - usually only when heavily provoked.
- Alpacas fit in and get along with goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, cats and family dogs. Although a little cautious at first.
- Alpacas can live up to 20 years.
- They require little space - 4-8 alpacas per acre is fine.. depending on the land quality. And 3-4 foot field fence makes a sufficient enclosure. Fences should be dog/coyote proof. Fences between the males and females should be 5 feet.
- Alpacas are usually first bred 12 - 18 months of age.
- Their gestation period averages 11.5 months.
- A baby alpaca is called a cria, usually weighs between 15 and 20 pounds, and can often stand to nurse within an hour.
- Alpaca droppings are practically odorless, are low in nitrogen and are excellent for enriching soil.
- Alpacas are easily transported in a pick-up, van or trailer. They usually lie down in transit.
- A baby alpaca is called a cria, the mom is called the Dam and dad is called the Sire .
- Crias are usually born without assistance between 8 and 12am
- The largest percentage of alpacas came from and still reside in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
- Alpacas are a member of the camelid family. They are cousins to the camel, llama, vicuna, and guanaco.
- Alpacas eat less than 2 pounds of hay per day and require no special diets. Feeding alpacas is very inexpensive. Alpacas eat pasture grasses in the Spring, Summer and Fall and hay during the Winter months.
- They need very little care, toe-trimming, annual inoculations, and worming twice a year.
- Alpacas are shorn once a year for their beautiful, desirable fleece.
- Three sided shelters to protect from wind is all that is needed in moderate climates.
- Possibly the best thing about alpacas is that they use a communal dung pile! This makes cleaning up after them a breeze and bedding in the winter the easiest!
- There are two different types of alpacas, the suri and the huacaya.
- The Suri has fiber that grows quite long while growing parallel to the body. The fiber forms long silky separate, distinctive pencil locks.
- The Huacaya (which we have) is more common then the Suris, distinguished by a thick, dense fleece, growing vertically from the body, giving it a very woolly appearance. Huacaya's also have a very crimpy fleece and a fine micron. Fine micron is sought after for luxurious high fashion garments.
- Alpacas have soft padded feet, making them gentle on their pastures.
- They have no top teeth in the front.
- The average height of an alpaca is 36" at the withers They weigh from 100 to 175 pounds.
- Alpacas chew their cud similar to a cow, and are a modified ruminant. They have three stomachs rather than the true ruminant, which has four.
- They have single births (twins are extremely rare occurring once in about every 2000 births)
WE HAVE A SET OF FEMALE TWINS!!! They were part of our original purchase over a decade ago and are now our senior alpacas, there names are Mona and Lola. Mona is light fawn and Lola is white. A lot of times female twins can be infertile but both these girls have become moms to many cria with no problems. They are very close and are almost always within earshot of each other.
This is way back when we got the twins! I remember this day like it was yesterday . I was UNBELIEVABLY excited!
On the Pond bank.. the water in the background is the river :)
me if you have any questions or wish to meet our herd, and find out even more about the greatest animal on earth! :-)