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Frequently Asked Questions

About Alpacas

What is the difference between a Llama and Alpaca?
They are both part of the camelid family. This family also includes camels, guanacos and vicunas. Alpacas are half the size of Llamas. Alpacas weigh between 100-175 pounds and stand approximately 36" high at the withers. In addition to their larger size Llamas also have characteristic long banana shaped ears. 

Where do Alpacas come from? 
Alpacas are native to the high Andes mountains of South America, Peru, Chili and Bolivia.

Are there different kinds of Alpacas?
Yes, there are two kinds. The Suri with is the more rare of the two and has very fine long dreadlock fiber. The Huacaya is the more common of the two with thick dense crimpy fiber.

How long do Alpacas live?
Alpacas live approximately 20 - 25 years.

What do you do with an Alpaca? Why would I want one?
Alpacas make good investments as well as great pets. They are wonderful companions, great 4-H projects and provide their owners with a healthy stress free lifestyle. Alpaca shows are becoming increasingly popular all over the United States. Since Alpacas are such quiet, safe and intelligent animals they can be enjoyed by everyone, including small children, people with special needs and the elderly. They easily accept visits to schools and nursing homes and always draw a lot of smiles and attention.

What do Alpacas eat? 
Each Alpaca eats about a cupful of a commercial feed specially formulated for Llamas and Alpacas per day. One Alpaca will eat approximately 1 bale of good quality grass hay per week. They should have access to pasture and fresh water. 

What kind of barn and fence and acreage do you need to keep an Alpaca? 
6-8 Alpacas can be kept on one acre of land. They require at least a 3 sided shed to protect them from the winter wind and summer sun. A fan should be provided in the summer for relief from the heat. Alpacas will not run through or jump a fence. A good fence is necessary to keep out predators such as wild dogs. Alpacas use a communal dung pile so manure clean up is easy. They do not require bedding in their barn.

What is a baby Alpaca called? 
A baby Alpaca is called a cria. One cria is born after a gestation of 11 months.

How do you haul an Alpaca?
Alpacas can be hauled very comfortably in a mini van. They quickly learn to jump in and will lay down and look out the windows when the vehicle starts to move.

How often do you shear Alpacas?
Alpacas are shorn once per year in the spring. 

What makes Alpaca fiber so valuable? 
Alpaca fiber is a rare specialty fiber. There are more than 22 natural colors of Alpaca fleece. Blending these fibers can produce an infinite array of natural colors. Alpaca fiber is easily dyed. It is strong and resilient. Alpaca fiber has more thermal capacity than almost any other animal fiber. The fiber contains microscopic air pockets with create lightweight garments with high insulation values. Alpacas fiber does not contain lanolin and has a smooth cell structure, therefore does not itch.

What do you do with the fiber after shearing? 
By joining The North American Alpaca Fiber Cooperative your fiber can be pooled with other North American Alpaca breeders and made into a variety of designer apparel. You can have your fiber processed by a commercial mill and spun into yarn. Alpaca is extremely easy to work with. You can try spinning it yourself, turn it into beautiful felt hats and a use it in a variety of other craft projects. Raw fiber can also be sold directly to hand spinners and other craft people. 

How do Alpacas like the cold winter?
Alpacas do not mind the winter and will often be found sleeping outside with a coating of frost on them. They should however, have access to shelter.

How do you keep Alpacas cool in the summer? 
Shearing each spring helps keep Alpacas comfortable in the summer months. Shade should be provided. And in very hot humid weather a fan mounted close to the ground should be provided.

What kind of veterinarian and medical care do Alpacas routinely need?
Alpacas rarely get sick. They require annual shots and regular wormings.

 

 


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