What is an Alpaca?
Alpacas are the second newest mammals on Earth. They were bred into existence by breeding a vicuna and a guanaco. Unlike llamas, who are work animals, alpacas were created specifically for their fiber.
What is the difference between Llamas and Alpacas?
Both are from the camelid family, but each serves a different purpose. Llamas are about 300 lbs and are made for packing or guarding livestock. Alpacas are much smaller, between 120-150 lbs and are solely used for their fleece, which is softer than cashmere and twice as warm as wool. We use our Italian Maremma guard dogs to help protect our alpacas in the pasture from predators.
Why is Alpaca so expensive?
There are quite a few reasons that alpacas and alpaca fiber is so expensive. For starters, there are fewer alpacas than sheep and there's a lack of industrial infrastructure. There are only about 350,000 alpacas in the U.S., of which are not all high quality. The alpaca industry estimates there needs to be at least 1 million alpacas in the U.S. to support a full time mill and make it affordable. For perspective, there are 6 million sheep in the U.S. with mills able to process sheep's wool into yarn at around $18 per pound whereas processing alpaca's fiber costs around $38 per pound. Additionally it costs about $60.00 per shearing to shear an alpaca versus $4.00 per shearing for sheep. Mills also need specialty machinery to process alpaca fiber and cannot use sheep wool mills' machinery without making major adjustments.
Why is Alpaca fiber hypoallergenic?
Alpaca fiber lacks barbs, scales and lanolin. Lanolin is traditionally found in sheep’s wool and irritates many wearers upon contact.
What is the difference between Alpaca fiber and sheep wool?
Alpaca fiber is stronger and warmer than sheep's wool.
Are there more than one kind of alpaca fiber? If so, what are they?
Yes, there are two different fibers. One from the Suri alpacas are rare and have fleeces with lock structure that hang down on their body and have beautiful luster. The Huacayas have crimpy springy fiber which grows out and gives them a fluffy look with wonderful brightness.
How many colors do Alpacas come in?
There are 22 natural shades of color variations of alpacas. The spectrum is from white, fawn, black, grey, brown with many shades between.
Are Alpacas clean animals?
Yes, they are much cleaner than most other livestock. They have minimal aroma so they attract fewer flies during the summer. Alpacas poop in a communal pile which makes clean-up easy and reduces parasites which is best for overall hygiene in the herd.
Are Alpacas smart?
Yes, they are amazingly alert livestock with great hearing and eyesight and will alert others with a loud honking sound when they feel threatened. Our Lil Bear is our most vocal along with our two guard dogs. Alpacas are easily halter trained. Crias often play tag with youngsters which always make for cute videos.
Are Alpacas dangerous?
No! Alpacas are pleasant to be near and move gracefully around the pastures. They are not social and cuddly but will always befriend you if you have pellets to share with them. They can reflexively kick with a hind leg if surprised from behind. It is not powerful like a horse but can leave a heart-shaped bruise.
Do Alpacas thrive in very hot and very cold climates?
Generally, yes. They are amazingly resilient in both hot and cold. Measures we take are shearing in the spring before the hot weather and ensuring plenty of cool water so they stay hydrated. In wintertime, we provide warm shelters and blankets in the freezing weather which is hardly ever in our California climate.
Birthing of baby Cria’s needs human assistance?
In most cases, cria are born without any intervention. Onlookers are busy with video cameras and taking photos as they view the miracle of life. They are normally between 15-19 pounds at birth and begin standing and nursing within 90 minutes.
Why do We raise Alpacas?
We fell in love with these adorable creatures many years ago. Now, we feel so blessed to be able to give our time and effort to enjoy watching them thrive right in our own backyard, well, our own open pasture.
“A wise man never regrets the questions he asks.
Only the ones he didn’t ask.”
~ Ted Bell