History of Alpacas
are part of the Camelid Group including Camels, Llamas,
Alpacas, Guanacos and Vicunas.
are native to the Andes Mountains of South America,
primarily Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
were first imported to the United States from Bolivia in
have been domesticated for over 5000 years.
finest alpaca fleece was reserved for the Incan Royalty and
has been known as “The Fiber of the Gods”.
(Alpaca Registry, Inc.) was formed in 1989 and maintains a
registry of pedigrees through DNA testing.
gestation is 11 months.
They have single births—twinning is rare.
alpaca is called a cria (cree-ah)
are generally ready to breed at 18-24 months.
are generally ready to breed at 2-3 years.
are induced-ovulators, which means breeding stimulates
bred for spring and fall babies
usually give birth during daylight hours (6am to 3pm).
ancient Incan times, alpaca fiber was used to make clothes
for royalty and was known as “The Fiber of the Gods”.
It is as
soft as cashmere, yet lighter in weight, stronger, and
warmer than wool.
fiber is naturally fire retardant, contains no lanolin, and
comes in 22 natural colors.
It is in
high demand from hand spinners, knitters, and fiber artists
for both the raw fleece and yarns.
economical to care for—fiber and offspring sales easily pay
for their upkeep
are livestock you don’t have to kill in order to reap the
outdoor lifestyle and spend time together as a family at
shows and events
need land to get started—we boarded our first alpaca at a
advantages of small-time farming
are two types of alpacas: Huacaya, (pronounced wah-ki-yah)
and Suri, (pronounced sur-ee).
fiber is dense, crimpy, and gives a wooly appearance.
fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks.
average life span is 20 years.
weight for an adult alpaca is 150-170 pounds.
height is 36 inches at the withers.
have padded feet (like a dog) with two toes.
have teeth on their bottom jaw and a hard dental pad on top
for grinding their food.
semi-ruminants, have three stomach compartments and chew a
alert, intelligent, and curious.
social animals and require at least one companion.
communicate by humming and an array of other vocal noises
along with body posturing.
spit---at each other---another form of communication,
usually at feeding time to determine position.
Care and Maintenance
are easy keepers, requiring pasture, good grass hay, and
pellet supplementation. You can easily graze 12 alpacas per
three-sided shelter is enough protection from the elements.
need routine nail trimming, de-worming, and sometimes teeth
is more to keep predators out, not alpacas in, as they do
have a respect for fences.
shorn once yearly, usually in the spring or early summer in
our part of the country. They will then be cool for the
summer months and grow back enough fleece by the time cooler
a common dung pile, which makes clean up easier. The manure
is great fertilizer and does not burn, so can be used right
from the animals to the flowerbed and garden.