What is an alpaca?
Alpacas are in the camelid family primarily due to their cloven feet. They originated in Andes Mountains in South America. They have only been in the United States since the early 1980's. The fleece of an alpaca is the second most precious fiber in the world. It is as durable as wool, but much softer and there is no itchy feeling when alpaca yarn is against your skin. Since there is no lanolin in their fleece, there is no odor when the garment gets wet.
How big do alpacas get?
Alpacas (crias) at birth weigh between 13-17 pounds. When full grown, they weigh approximately 150 lbs. And are 5 feet tall (at the top of their head). They seem much bigger when they are in full fleece. It is always a shock after shearing to see how small they actually are.
What do you feed an alpaca?
Not much at all! They only require a small amount of food. They love pasture grass in the spring, summer and fall months and hay in the winter months. We also feed our alpacas approximately 1 ½ cups of Alpaca grain each day. They will need access to fresh water too.
What is the temperament of an alpaca?
Gentle, easy-going, extremely easy to handle and train. These animals are very curious and love to watch you as you go about your chores, whether its cutting grass or filling their water buckets. Each one has a unique personality. They are extremely intelligent and love being with their buddies.
Will I need much land to raise alpacas?
Not at all. In most cases, you can raise 7-9 alpacas on an acre of land. They are very gentle to pastureland. Since they only have bottom front teeth, they do not pull grass up by the roots.
What do I do about shearing my alpacas?
Alpacas get sheared in the spring. Each adult alpaca yields approximately 6 lbs. of fleece. There are many ways to handle your fleece. You can send it to a yarn mill to have it processed (spun into yarn or roving) or sell it spinners as soon as it has been shorn. Alpaca fleece has No odor and is very easy to clean. This just requires picking the hay particles and pasture trash out of the fleece after it has been shorn.
How do I make money raising alpacas?
There are several ways to make money in the alpaca business. The first is selling their fleece. The second is raising and breeding your animals. In today's economy, these incredible animals only increase in value.
What are the advantages of raising alpacas?
There are great tax advantages to raising alpacas. It really doesn't matter how big your herd is. The lifestyle advantage is also a huge plus. These animals are so soothing and laid back. I can truthfully say there is not a day that I don't look forward to going down and feeding my critters. I always leave the barn with a smile on my face.