Did you know?
Do you love of an outdoor lifestyle, the pleasure in caring for animals, and an
opportunity for an intriguing investment opportunity? Do you enjoy the camaraderie of friendly people with common interests
or the competition of shows? Are you fulfilled by participating in local fairs and other community events?
Whatever leads you to these beautiful animals, here are some basic alpaca facts to get you started.
Alpacas are members of the camelid family and are native to the high mountain plains of Peru, Chile,
and Bolivia. They are graceful, curious yet shy, smart, easy to care for and train, and relatively inexpensive to maintain.
Alpacas are herd animals and need to be raised in at least pairs, but preferably in groups of no less than three. There
is absolutely no substitute to watching the alpaca babies (called cria) playing together in the field.
Alpacas have been bred and raised for their exotic fleece. They have a very fine,
soft, dense, crimped fiber coat, and produce a luxury fleece in 22 natural colors that is lanolin-free, hypoallergenic, and
much warmer, stronger, and lighter than wool. Alpacas are shorn once a year and produce an average of about 8 lbs of
fiber each year. Spinners, knitters, and fashion designers love the alpaca fleece for its light weight, softness, and
When full grown, alpacas weigh 100 to 180 lbs. and are
no taller than 5 ft. There are 2 types of alpacas: huacaya (wah-KI'-ya) and suri. Huacaya have a fleece which
grows out perpendicular to the skin and are more popular than suris which have fleece that falls close to its body and looks
more like dreadlocks.
Alpacas are very earth-friendly - they are
so much gentler on the land than horses, eat far less hay, and their care is relatively easy. Their manure is excellent
fertilizer and can be applied to a garden immediately.