Alpaca Facts

Alpaca Facts :
•Alpacas are part of the camelid family, cousins to the llamas. They are native to the Andes mountain range of South America, where they were once reserved only for Incan royalty.

•Alpacas fiber has the softness of cashmere and is warmer, lighter and stronger than wool. It comes in more natural colors than any other fiber-producing animal (approximately 22 basic colors with many variations and blends), so it is no wonder that the Incas called it "The Fiber of the Gods". Today spinners and weavers all around the world enjoy the fiber.

•Alpacas were first imported into the United States in 1984. The registry has been closed since 1998 to any newly imported animals. It has been suggested that this industry will demand several hundred thousand alpacas in the United States to meet the needs of the growing alpaca fleece industry.

•Breeding females have only one cria (baby alpaca) a year. An average of 50% of those are males. The alpaca's life span is 15 to 25 years. Needless to say it is a slow growing industry.

•Alpacas generally have a gentle nature and are easy to care for. They do not challenge fences and although they are curious animals, if one should happen to get out of the fenced in area, you can usually find it trying to figure a way to get back in. They require small amounts of acreage (5-8 alpacas per acre). Just a short amount of time is required each day, depending on how many alpacas you have, to feed them and make sure they have fresh water (a self watering system eliminates this). Dung clean up is relatively easy since they all use the same spot. Sometimes 2 or 3 areas in a pasture. Some type of shelter is needed to keep the animals out of harsh weather. Barns are most commonly used but a 3-sided shelter is adequate. Alpaca's are hardy animals and tend to be disease free. Although alpaca owners learn to do most things themselves (shots, nail trimming, etc.) it is important to have a veterinarian that knows or is willing to learn about alpacas.

•There are two types of alpacas

• The Huacaya (pronounced wash-ky-ah) is the most common type. Huacaya's have a teddy bear like fiber. It is dense, crimpy and soft fiber. About 90% of all alpacas are huacayas. The other type of alpaca is the Suri (pronounced surrey).

•The suri is very rare and a unique animal. It has a rope like twisted lock structure that resembles dreadlocks. If not shorn these "pencil" locks can reach the ground.

•The suri's extraordinary luster and silkiness of the fleece make this animal highly sought after

•Alpacas have been called "the world's finest livestock investment"! Alpacas are depreciable over 5 years. Alpacas are 100% insurable. Starting with just three bred females could result in a herd size of 20 alpacas in five years. Some farms like to sell the offspring in the first few years of business and others like to create a more sizable herd before starting to sell. Starting with a business plan will help you decide your future in the Alpaca Business.