Alpacas are members of the camelid family. There are only four types of camelids that have no humps. The two that are most commonly known are the llama and the alpaca. Alpaca and Llamas have been domesticated for thousands of years. The other types of alpacas that roam freely in their native lands are the guanacos and vicunas. People confuse the alpaca with a llama. There are some differences. Llamas are twice the size of an alpaca. Alpacas are raised for their fine fiber. There are two types of Alpacas, The Huacaya ( pronounced wah-KI-ah ) and the Suri ( pronounced SOO-ree). The Huacaya is the most common type and account for 90% of all alpacas. They have the most fluffy and crimpy fleece which gives them a teddy bear appearance. Now a Suri is so beautiful with their fleece that grows very silky and it drapes in pencil locks.
The largest population of Alpacas are in Peru, Boliva and Chile with smaller numbers in Equador, Argentina and Paraguay.
What do alpacas eat?
A good quality orchard grass hay or grass. They also consume a small amount of supplement of a pellet diet with mineral added.
How much space does it take to raise an alpaca? Alpacas are so environmentally friendly and require so little pasture and food. You can raise 5 to 6 alpacas per acre.
What do I need for Shelter and Fencing? A good pole barn or lean to shed will work fine. The shelter needs plenty of air circulation. Plus a place to go to for cooling down and getting out of thunderstorms. Fencing needs to be 4 to 5 feet no climb horse wire fence. This is the best for its stronger and helps in detering animals from climbing it.
Can alpacas thrive in locations with very hot or very cold climates? Yes, alpacas are very hardy animals. In hot environments, you must provide areas for them to cool off. Sprinklers, kiddie pools, fans are great choices. Also having a shelter that has great ventilation and shearing their fleece will help cool them as well.
Are alpacas dangerous? Goodness no, they are so gentle. Children are able to be exposed to these marvelous animals. They have soft pads on their feet, so if they do kick, which is only if you touch them on the hindquarters, if they kick it will just get your attention. They do not butt or bite you.
Are alpacas clean animals? Yes, They are much cleaner then most livestock. Alpacas defecate in a communal dung piles. Its so funny because if you are cleaning up their dung piles, they will wait in line till you finish cleaning up to use the bathroom.
Do alpacas make noise? Alpacas are very docile animals that make a small amount of noise. They will hum as a means of communication. Occassionally you will hear a alarm call which is a shrill. It mostly is used if the alpacas see a dog or other animal near them. I have even seen them use this call when landscaping people have been near by. Alpacas have no idea what a person with a weedeater is... Also male alpacas will serenade the females while breeding, which is a orgling sound.
Do Alpacas spit? All members of the camelid family use spitting as a means of communication. Alpacas do get possessive of their food.
How long do alpacas live? Alpacas can live till around 15 - 25 years.
So what do you do with alpacas? Alpacas are raised for their soft fiber. Each shearing will produce approxmiatley five to ten pounds. This fleece is comparable to cashmere, and can be turned into a wide range of products. From ponchos, blankets, sweaters etc.