Alpacas produce fabulous fiber which is warmer, softer, and stronger than wool, it is organically grown and sustainable. Alpaca fiber comes in many natural colors and is hypoallergenic. Additionally the fiber has fire resistant properties. These are magical creatures with distinct personalities; they are full of curiosity and endearing traits. Is an alpaca farm in your future? Does the country lifestyle interest you? Read on my friend.
What is an Alpaca?
Alpacas are members of the camelid family. Two breed types: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ah) and suri (SOO-ree). Huacayas, the more common type, and have fluffy crimpy fleece that gives the animals a teddy bear-like appearance. Suris on the other hand, grow silky, lustrous fleece that drapes gracefully in beautiful long locks.
How are alpacas different from llamas?
Both belong to the camelid family. Llamas are much larger, 250 to 450 pounds compare to alpacas which are 110 to 200 pounds. Llamas can be used as pack animals, e.g. Grand Canyon, mountains and guarding sheep or alpacas. Alpacas are raised for their fiber.
Belonging to the camelid family, they have 2 toes with hard toe nails, instead of a hoof like a horse.
What do alpacas eat?
Alpacas like to eat grass during the growing season and 2nd cut hay in the fall & winter. They eat approximately 1.5% of their body weight daily in hay or fresh pasture.
How many teeth do alpacas have?
They have two types of teeth. They have molars in the back of the jaw for chewing cud. But in the front, the alpaca has 4 teeth on the bottom of the mouth and a hard gum (dental pad) on the top for crushing grass, or grain.
Do alpacas spit?
YES, Members of the camelid family all spit. It’s their way of showing displeasure. They will spit at each other during a spat or over what they consider “their food”. In which you can get caught in the crossfire. Certain ones also will and can spit at you for what they consider an irritation. So beware of those individuals. They all have a personality.
One is Not Enough?
You will need at least 3 alpacas of the same sex to start. They are a herd animal and therefore they need each other for herd think & jobs. Each alpaca in the herd will have a job and a place in the herd.
Keep Males and Females together?
NO, Males & Females need to be in separate pastures and pastures separated by a 10 foot runway are ideal. The courtship ritual of the alpaca is very unique. The females are induced ovulators, meaning there are no “heat” cycles with visible discharge. Meaning they can breed and conceive any time of the year. Many breeders avoid births during the coldest of winter months and the hottest of summer months.