In the late 1970s, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization defined the ideal animal for the future.
The animal should be:
it should need little water,
it should be highly fertile, and,
it should provide people with protein or other products.
Alpacas fit this ideal. To find an animal of the future, people need look no further than the alpaca.
About Alpacas ~ What is an alpaca?
Alpacas are rare, exotic animals imported from countries in South America and raised primarily for their fiber. Alpacas produce between three to ten pounds of fine alpaca fiber each year similar in quality to angora and cashmere. Alpaca farms breed alpacas for sale, for their alpaca fiber (to make clothing, high fashion wear, accessories) and even for pets. They are related to llamas, but they are smaller, and generally produce more and softer fur (called fiber). Alpacas have straight ears, while llamas have very distinctively curved, banana-shaped ears.
A normal adult is about three feet tall at the shoulder and with their long neck and head they stand at attention at about 5 feet. There is good bit of variation in individual heights as with all creatures.
adult weight varies from 110 to 160 pounds
11.5 months; 341 days (a long time to wait to see the results of your breeding selections, but well worth it!)
Alpacas come in a huge variety of natural colors! The registry officially recognizes 22 colors from white to gray to fawn (tan and reddish shades) to brown and jet black and all the shades in between. The beautiful colors is one of the special characteristics that appeal to hand-spinners.
Country of origin:
Alpacas originated high in the Andes mountains in the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
According to statistics published by the alpaca registry (ARI), as of March 2002 there are 38,835 registered alpacas (32,340 huacayas and 4,270 suris) in the US and 4,092 registered alpacas in Canada (3,826 huacayas and 266 suris). As you can see from the numbers, there are many more huacayas than suris. At Friendly Farm Alpacas, we have both haucayas and their rarer cousins, suris, for sale and breeding.
Grass, hay, and grains; they are grazers, and do not consume nearly as much food as horses and cows and thus need less land to live on.
Where do alpacas come from, originally?
Alpacas originated high in the Andes mountains in the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Alpaca remains have been located in South America that date back for thousands of years. Alpacas have since been exported in significant numbers to the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe. Import and export restrictions currently deter their movement into and out of the US right now. ARI, the North American alpaca registry is closed to new registrations of imports and has been closed since 1999. Only alpacas born to currently registered alpacas (and proved by blood typing) are admitted to the registry. This protects the fledgling US alpaca market and your alpaca investment.
Are alpacas friendly? (Do they SPIT?)
Alpacas can learn to be very friendly to humans from close contact and training. They can spit like llamas, but generally do not spit at people. They spit at each other when fussing over shared food or males fighting over females.
Why raise alpacas?
Alpacas are raised primarily for their fiber. The buying and selling of these animals is not just an expensive and novel fad; it has a real purpose and that is the production of alpaca fleece. This is a fleece industry and alpaca fleece is highly desired in the world fashion market for its fantastic properties. And among the fiber animals, alpacas are some of the most profitable to breed.
Individual farms may have other reasons, including:
* fleece for their own spinning and weaving projects
* pets (lured by the appeal of these gentle and lovely creatures)
* an exciting and new adventure for their retirement
* an investment in a product that doubles annually
* a bit of the exotic magic of the Incas and the Peruvian Andes mountains
What is so special about alpaca fiber?
Alpaca fiber is among the most highly sought after fiber by local hand-spinners and international textile industries because of its unique and fantastic properties. Alpaca fiber is extremely soft and fine, as soft as cashmere, with good crimp and handle. It’s hollow inside providing insulation like a thermos or polar bear fleece, so even though it’s lightweight and fluffy, it’s extremely warm and protective. Alpaca fiber is free from the oils that you will find in sheep wool, and it’s not prickly or itchy. The fibers are strong. Alpaca fiber is shiny and lustrous and comes in 22 natural colors. Your rose-gray yarn can be completely free from dyes; the colors are natural and beautiful.
How much do alpacas cost?
Registered, breeding-quality alpacas generally cost from $7,000 to $35,000 dollars each, averaging around $20,000. Remember that their offspring sell for that much, too. That’s why breeding them can be so profitable.
How much land do they need to live on?
Alpacas consume much less hay than the same number of horses and cows; they are much smaller. They will be very comfortable with one or two alpacas per acre.
How do you raise an alpaca (raising alpacas)?
Alpacas should be put on a schedule of routine, periodic vaccinations and worming medications. Most alpaca farmers provide a shelter from the winter storms and the summer sun. They need hay year-round that is normally supplemented with a grain and salt minerals.
There are several books available on all aspects of caring for alpacas from neonatal care to veterinary practices to setting up your farm. There are many informational organizations and Web sites. There is an alpaca chat group with enough experienced alpaca breeders to answer any question you can up with (click to find out about the chat group).
How do you market alpacas?
Alpacas are marketed through bulk mail, through the Internet, through Alpacas’ Magazine, state fairs, 4H events, alpaca shows and competitions, and craft shows. The national Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) provides mailing lists, marketing materials, training in marketing, and they market alpacas on national media such as cable television, providing marketing support to the industry as a whole. Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association