WHAT IS AN ALPACA?
Alpacas are camelids, cousins to camels, llamas, guanacos, and vincunas. Alpacas are about one third the size of llamas and have proportionally smaller ears and snouts than their llama cousins. Their calm, curious, affectionate and fun disposition provides hours of entertainment!
There are two different kinds of alpacas;
The suri alpaca is a rarer alpaca and has very long, fine, dreadlock-type fiber.
The huacaya alpaca is the second type of alpaca and is the more common of the two. The huacaya alpaca has thick, dense, crimpy fiber and resembles a teddy bear when in full coat! They are hardy and healthy animals that produce a fine and highly-prized fiber.
WHERE DO ALPACA COME FROM?
Alpacas are native to South America, in the high Andes Mountain countries of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. They were introduced into the USA in 1984.
Lifespan: 15-25 years
Height: 36 inches at the withers (shoulders) on average
Weight: 150 pounds on average (range of 100 - 200)
Gestation (pregnancy): 335 days (range of 320 - 365)
Birth weight: 10-25 pounds, 15-19 average
Colors: 22 recognized colors from white to brown to grey to black
WHAT ARE ALPACA USED FOR?
Alpaca in the USA are mainly raised for the fiber /fleece they produce. The alpaca fleece is prized for its fineness, lightness in weight, luster and hypoallergenic properties. Alpaca clothing is stronger than, has better insulating and wicking properties than wool. (I can't wear wool, as I itch and break out, but have NO problem with alpaca clothing!) Sheering is done once a year, before the hot weather and can produce between 3 and 10 lbs of fleece per animal annually.
We have fleece and other products available for sale, please check "Services" page!
Secondly, Alpaca are show animalsThroughout the US and Canada alpaca breeders show their animals, as they are easily trained to lead and are gentle enough to be handled by children. Alpaca, as in any show/breeding animal vary in pricing from inexpensive "pet boys", to show quality animals.
We have alpaca available for sale, please check "Our Alpaca" page for details!
Lastly, Alpaca are used for meat. But up until recently, there wasn't an alpaca meat market in the USA. Of course outside of North America alpaca meat is a delicacy and in South America it has been a staple of life for thousands of years. Sweet and extremely lean, alpaca is a mild red meat that while distinct, is close to beef in its flavor.
As with any other livestock species, not every alpaca born should be used as breeding stock. This is especially true to enable the fleece industry to grow and prosper with domestic American alpaca capable of producing low micron, textile grade fiber.
For hundreds of years on a traditional family farm, if you wanted meat it came from the animals (angus cattle, turkeys, chickens, hogs) that the family raised, slaughtered and butchered themselves. That being said, as in any livestock animal there is something to be said for both consuming and marketing meat that comes from animals that we know were raised in the best of conditions with a high quality of life and care, until the very end.
If interested, I can give you the name of a local farm that sells alpaca meat products.