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About alpacas

Alpacas are members of the camelid family, native to the Andean Altiplano of South America, where they have been domesticated for thousands of years for their exquisitely soft and luxurious fiber.  Today, alpacas are also being raised in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa and North America.

Alpaca fleece comes in 22 recognized natural colors, from pure white, shades of fawn, brown, and gray to true black.  Clothing and products made from alpaca fiber are highly resilient, lightweight and warm, prized for their soft, silky feel.  Those who have the privilege of working with these animals appreciate not only their fleece, but also their intelligence and gentle, inquisitive dispositions.  They have appropriately been called the natural fiber animal fit for royalty.

There are two kinds of alpacas, suri and huacaya,  the main difference between them being in the fleece.
huacaya - waviness in the fleece, called crimp, makes it
       stand out from the body giving a wooly appearance
suri - lustrous fleece that hangs down from the body in
       long pencil-like ringlets

Alpacas weigh from 100-200 lbs.
   stand about 3 ft. tall at the withers.
are modified ruminents, produce rumen and chew cud.
   eat pasture grasses, hay, supplemental grain and
   are soft footed and selective grazers, therefore cause
       little damage to the earth.
have one baby, called a cria, per year, gestation
       averaging from 335-355 days.
have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.
are easily trained to halter and lead.

Junie B, 2 wks old

Alpacas need shelter from summer heat and against frigid winter weather.
   rarely challenge fencing; fencing is primarily for protection against predators.
   need one acre of field, depending on conditions, for every 5-10 alpacas.
   use a communal dung pile, simplifying clean-up and herd hygiene.
need their toenails occasionally trimmed.
need routine vaccinations and worming.
are shorn yearly.

As with any livestock, alpacas require food, shelter and attention appropriate to their needs, though their care is relatively easy.   With care and wise management, raising alpacas has the potential to be a rewarding business, while simultaneously enriching the lives of those who shepherd them. 

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