An alpaca is a beautiful animal.
A cousin to the llama, known for its luxurious
fiber, and a member of the camelid family. The business of breeding
alpacas is one of the fastest-growing livestock industries in the
States today. People from all walks of life are giving up traditional jobs
for the easy-going and thoroughly enjoyable business of raising these
gentle creatures. Alpacas are native to South America, particularly Peru,
Bolivia, and Chile. They were first imported into the United States in
Two kinds of Alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya) and Suri
Huacaya fiber is short, dense, crimpy and gives a woolly appearance.
Suri fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks.
Short and low set tail.
Have soft padded feet with two toes.
Do not have horns, hooves or claws, incisors, or upper teeth.
Eat grass and chew cud.
Adult alpacas generally weigh between 150 and 200 lbs.
Average height is 36 inches at the withers.
Have three stomachs.
Members of the Camelid family (Vicuρa, Guanaco, Llama and Alpaca).
Native to Andean Mountain range of South America.
Primarily found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
Provided clothing and transportation to the Incas.
First imported in the United States in 1984.
Domesticated for over 5,000 years.
Who raises alpacas?
Alpaca owners and breeders come from all walks of life. Many are doctors,
financial advisors, educators, or cattle farmers, to name a few. Some
raise alpacas as a full-time business, others commit part- time. From
young families to empty-nesters, phased retirement to full-retirement,
raising alpacas offers countless options for everyone.
Why do people raise alpacas?
Alpacas offer a very attractive business and farming opportunity no matter
where you live: urban, suburban, or rural. Urban dwellers can board (or "agist")
their alpacas at nearby farms/ranches so that they can enjoy the benefits
of ownership while living in a large city or suburb. People also raise
alpacas for companionship and to enjoy a rural lifestyle.
How do you transport an alpaca?
If traveling for short distances, they can be transported inside vans or
other larger vehicles. Most folks put down a piece of old carpeting or
inexpensive Astro-Turf to minimize the impact on the vehicle's carpeting
in case an "accident" were to occur. Most of the time, however, the
animals will "cush" (that is, sit down) for the journey. Longer distances
require transport in a livestock trailer.
How much acreage does it take to raise an alpaca?
You can usually raise two to eight alpacas per acre, depending on terrain,
rain/snowfall amounts, availability of pasture, etc. They can also be
raised on dry lot and be fed grass hay, if desired. Consult with your
local County Extension Officer for specific local recommendations.
Are alpacas easy to care for?
They are a small and relatively easy livestock to maintain. They stand
about 36 inches tall at the withers (the point where the neck and spine
come together), weigh between 100-200 pounds, and establish communal dung
piles that are easy to manage. The alpacas need basic shelter and
protection from heat and foul weather, and being livestock, they do
require certain vaccinations and anti-parasitic medicines. Additionally,
their toenails need to be trimmed every couple of months and the fleeces
sheared off once a year. Speaking of toenails, these animals do not have
hooves-they have two toes, with hard toenails on the top of their feet and
a soft pad on the bottom of their feet, much like a dog's foot. Therefore,
you don't experience compaction of the soil to the same degree that you
would with other types of livestock.
What type of shelter and fencing do alpacas
This varies widely, depending on such things as weather and predators. But
as a general rule, the alpacas do need at least a three-sided, open
shelter where they can escape inclement weather. Perimeter fencing should
be a minimum of five-foot-high, 2" by 4" no-climb fencing to keep out
predators, including dogs.
What do alpacas eat?
The main thing alpacas eat is grass or hay approximately two pounds per
125 pounds of body weight per day. A single, 60-pound bale of hay can
generally feed a group of about 20 alpacas for one day. Alfalfa is
discouraged or fed only sparingly, as it has high protein content that can
be unhealthy for the animals. Additionally, all alpacas require access to
free-choice mineral supplements and plenty of fresh water to drink.
When do you think supply will outweigh demand?
The fiber industry continues to evolve along with the breeding industry.
The dynamics of the alpaca industry will continue to change but the
potential for a financially rewarding business opportunity will still
How many ounces of fiber will one alpaca
An adult alpaca might produce 50 to 90 oz. (3.8 to 5.7 lb) of
first-quality fiber as well as 50 to 100 oz. (3.1 to 6.3 lb) of second and
third quality fiber. Some alpacas already achieve, or exceed, these
Who buys the fiber?
Alpaca fiber is sold several ways. Hand-spinners and fiber artists buy raw
fleece. Knitters purchase alpaca yarn. Fiber Cooperative Mills (such as
AFCNA) collect alpaca fiber and process it on behalf of the producer.
What is an ounce of fiber worth?
This varies. In its raw state, an ounce of alpaca varies from $2-$5. Each
stage of the process (cleaning, carding, spinning, knitting, finishing,
etc) adds more value to the fiber. As a finished garment, it can sell for
$10.00 per oz. Hand knit goods are more desirable and have sold for $1,000
or more, in some cases.
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Patty & Mr. Drysdale
Patty and Mark spent their weekend of the 23rd
through the 25th of September at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City.
Patty took a first place ribbon with Mr.
Drysdale, in the male suri juvenile halter class.
There were at least 50 breeders present showing
over 200 animals. Also present were the Llama folks for their show. It is
safe to say a great time was had by all.
We were able to squeeze in some time to visit
the Oklahoma Federal Building Bomb site. The memorial there is something
to behold. Even though the event was ten years ago it stands as a true
testament of American resolve even in today's troubled times.