About Alpacas

What are Alpacas?

  • Alpacas are members of the camelid family – yes, like camels – and so are llamas. They have a split lip, soft padded feet, and are modified ruminates that chew their cud.
  • Alpacas originated in South America – in Peru, Chile and Bolivia. They have been raised in the U.S. for a little over 20 years and now number about 100,000. Alpacas are no longer imported from South America into the U.S.
  • There are two types of alpacas – Huacaya with fluffy fiber , and Suri with silky locks. They are sheared once a year and produce fiber that can be sold. Their fiber is highly desired by hand spinners and makes an excellent felt.
  • Alpaca fleece comes in a wide variety of colors from white to black.
  • Alpaca fleece is judged by the feel, crimp, fineness, density, and luster.
  • Alpacas are herd animals, and generally kept in groups of two or more.
  • Alpacas are considered to be livestock, with associated tax advantages for farmers. They are insurable and can be depreciated.
  • Alpacas normally have one baby per pregnancy. The gestation period is around 11 months. Baby alpacas are called “Cria” which is the Peruvian name for baby.
  • Female alpacas tend to give birth either in the morning or early afternoon.
  • Baby alpacas usually weigh between 12 and 18 pounds at birth.
  • Alpacas are a quiet animal and usually make a humming sound.
  • Alpacas are easily trained to lead and to go through obstacle courses.
  • Alpacas thrive on pasture or hay, along with small amounts of feed and mineral supplements. They are easily sheltered, but require special attention in the hot humid weather.
  • An adult alpaca female weighs around 135-170 pounds and an adult male weighs around 170-200 pounds.
  • Alpacas live approximately 20-25 years.
  • Alpacas are virtually odorless and do not tend to attract flies like other livestock.
  • Alpacas only have teeth at the bottom of their mouth for eating. The top of their mouth has a dental pad that they grind food against.