Origin of Alpacas:

  • Alpacas originated in the South American Andes mountains in the countries of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. During the 1980's, they were imported into the United States in relatively large numbers.  Now the national registry (Alpaca Registry, Inc., ARI) is closed to new imports, effectively protecting the U.S. market.

 

  • Alpacas are related to llamas, and camels as members of the camelid family.

 

  • Llamas are significantly larger than alpacas. Llamas have curved, banana-shaped ears versus the alpacas' spear-shaped ears, and llamas have different kinds of wool coats than the alpacas do.  Alpaca fleece has been refined for centuries to create a very fine, single coat that can be used straight off the alpaca without need for dehairing.

Types of Alpacas:

  • The alpaca comes in two breed-types: huacaya (pronounced wah‑KI‑ah) and suri (SOO‑ree). Huacayas, the more common type, account for about 90% of all alpacas, and have fluffy, crimpy fleece that gives the animals a teddy bear-like appearance. Suris, on the other hand, grow silky, lustrous fleece with heavier locks that hang down, lending the animals a shaggy look before shearing.   All of the alpacas on our ranch are huacayas.

Plan a visit to our farm to learn more about alpacas: 

 

America's greatest livestock investment!

Alpacas and the Environment:

  • Instead of pulling grass out by the root, alpacas nibble off the top of the plant.

 

  • Their soft padded feet are very gentle on pastures.

 

  • Alpaca poop can be composted into a rich fertilizer that is very valuable for your gardens and highly desired by neighboring farms and gardeners. Your farm's pickup pile can be a desirable local destination!

 

  • They all go in the same place! Alpacas go in communal poop piles that are convenient for easy pick up.

 

Caring for Alpacas:

  • Alpacas need the basic requirements of any farm animals: clean water, food, and shelter from the harshest hot and cold weather. Shelters vary from 3-sided run-ins to heated and air-conditioned barns.

 

  • Fencing requirements vary depending on the area that you live and how you would like to divide up your herd. Alpacas are separated into groups of males and females so that breedings can be individually managed. For wilderness areas, you may need fencing to keep out coyotes, bears and mountain lions.

 

  • Most alpaca farms implement a worming and vaccination routine that is suitable to their area of the country with guidance from their local veterinarian.

 

  • Alpacas eat grass and hay. One alpaca will eat one to two flakes of hay per day depending on their weight. Since they weigh only a fraction of what horses and cows weigh, each alpaca eats a correspondingly tiny fraction of what the larger farm animals will eat.

  • We have found that once the basics of fencing, shelter and water are set up, daily care needs are minimal. Alpacas are easy to care for and a joy to be around.

  • Females generally give birth without any human help. And should you need to take alpacas to the vet, they’ll “cush” comfortably (folding their legs beneath their bodies) in the back of a minivan or SUV.

Other Fun Facts:

  • Alpacas are very quiet, docile animals that generally make a minimal amount of sound. They generally make only a pleasant humming sound as a means of communication or to express concern or stress.

  • Alpacas have a lifespan of roughly 15 to 20 years.

  • Alpacas need the companionship of other alpacas to thrive, so we recommend purchasing two or more animals when starting your herd.

  • Alpaca only teeth on the bottom, and a hard gum (known as a dental pad) on the top for crushing grain, grass, or hay.

  • Alpaca cria normally weigh between 15 and 19 pounds when they are born, and are usually standing and nursing within 90 minutes of birth.

Alpaca Facts

Alpaca Fleece and Fashion:

  • Alpacas are shorn once a year in a process that does not harm the alpaca.

 

  • Each alpaca produces between two and 12 pounds of fleece each year.

 

  • Alpaca fleece is luxurious, soft and beautiful, and grows on the alpacas in 22 natural colors (more colors than any other fiber producing animal)!

  • Due to its extraordinary soft feel, strength and fineness, alpaca fleece is highly desired from fiber artists to high fashion, and is used to produce products ranging from rugs to yarn to suits and everything in between.

  • Alpaca fleece is practically water-repellent and, unlike sheep’s wool, lanolin-free and therefore hypoallergenic. 

 

  • Alpacas produce a cash crop:  alpaca fleece!

Alpaca Color Chart

Alpaca Food Facts...

  • Alpaca meat is one of the healthiest and most flavorful meats in the world, and one of the oldest food sources of the Incas an Pre-Incas in South America.

  • Lean, tender and sweet, it is rich in proteins, low in calories and fat, and has the lowest level of cholesterol of any meat.

  • Substitute in recipes for red meat and poultry.

  • To learn more