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About Alpacas

The wonderful fuzzy creatures...the Alpaca!

About Alpacas

The Alpaca (also known as vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. Camelids originated in North America over 40 million years ago.

Today, there are five (5) recognized camelid breeds: camels, llamas, guanacos, alpacas, and vicunas. All of these five (5) vary in size and all have different purposes, some being used as pack animals and the others valued for their high-end fiber they produce. All are used in a secondary meat market as well. 

The alpaca comes in two different breed types: Huacaya (wuh-KAI-ya) and Sure (SUR-ee). Huacayas, the more common type between the two breeds, account for about 85%-90% of all alpacas. The two vary primarily in terms of their fiber.

Questions & Answers

How much does an alpaca cost?

If you are just starting with alpacas never just buy one, you have to buy two! Registered alpacas range in price from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars (current record is $675K, and the highest half-interest was $500K making his full-interest rate 1 million). The price of an animal is affected by the quality and genetic desirability, just like any livestock animal. 

Do people eat alpacas?

Alpaca meat is not considered a primary product market primarily die to economic factors. It is most common in South America. Right now, the USDA does not yet have guidelines for the processing of alpaca. We do cull animals ever so often for meat (held in our freezer year-round), and yes, it is good!

Something we will always encourage someone to do is purchase a registered alpaca. Alpaca Owners Association, Inc. (AOA) is the largest alpaca pedigree registry in the world. While AOA provides services throughout the world, they mainly provide pedigree registration and member services in the United States and Canada. AOA is one of the few livestock registries that requires every animal to be DNA-validated with its parents before registration. As a result, people prefer AOA-registered alpacas. Anytime you are investing money, you need to take all the necessary steps to help ensure that your investment maintains its value. Registered alpacas do just that.

What do you do with alpacas?

Alpacas are raised for their soft and luxurious fleece (fiber). Each shearing produces roughly five to ten pounds of fleece per animal, per year. This fleece, often compared to cashmere, can be turned into a wide array of products from yarn and apparel to tapestries and blankets. The fleece itself is recognized globally for its fineness, softness, light weight, durability, excellent thermal qualities, and luster.

There are a number of business models that alpaca farmers have developed:

  • Breeding & Selling Seedstock
  • Fiber-Focused Breeding Program
  • Artisans
  • Agritourism

Alpaca owners are encouraged to develop a business plan and revise it regularly.

Do they spit?

Yes — all members of the camel family use spitting as a means of negative communication. From time to time alpaca do spit at people on purpose, but it is more common that humans get caught up in the crossfire between alpacas, so its best to study their behavior and learnt o avoid the most vulnerable situations.

What is the difference between alpacas and llamas?

Our favorite question! People often confuse alpacas with llamas. While closely related, llamas and alpacas are very different animals. Llamas are much larger, about twice the size of an alpaca, with a weight range of 250 to 450 pounds. Alpacas weigh between 120 to 200 pounds. Llamas are primarily used for packing or for guarding herds of sheep or alpacas, whereas alpacas are primarily raised for their soft and luxurious fleece.

How long do they live?

15 to 20 years. Our oldest is a still active breeding male named Pistol who is turning 21 this year.


 

Updated January 26, 2022