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• History




• The alpaca is essentially a man-made animal that has been bred over the centuries from its wild ancestors the vicuna and the guanaco, all of which live in the high plains of the Andes. Alpacas, Vicuna, Guanaco and Llama are all part of the same camelid family along with the dromedary and bactrium camel
• Incas, the indigenous people of the Andes have over many centuries bred the llama as a beast of burden, predominantly used as a pack animal and the alpaca as a fleece producer.
• The Incas showed great expertise and successfully bred alpacas to produce one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. In ancient Incan society only royalty or nobility were allowed to wear garments made from superfine alpaca fleece.
• The alpaca’s natural habitat is mountainous plains approximately 12,000 feet above sea level, however, they are able to adapt to less extreme climes and can now be seen to thrive in temperate climates of North America, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
• There are two distinct breeds of alpaca available, the huacaya and the suri. The more prolific huacaya have a dense fleece which forms a lock structure which bundles into pencil thick staples, has distinct crimps and waves along the fibre and is warm to the touch. The fleece stands out from the skin to give the characteristic look of a fluffy teddy-bear.
• By contrast the suris fleece falls down in long twisting ringlets or dreadlocks, is silky and cool to the touch. Both Suri and Huacaya alpacas come in a range of 22 colours from white through to fawns, greys, browns, and blacks.

• Why keep alpacas


• Alpacas are good natured, attractive, sociable, inquisitive and relatively easy to care for. Taking time to Sit in the field with them and being with them is probably the greatest stress buster of all time. One of the most asked questions is; “do they spit?” The answer is only if they are really stressed, its usually at each other over the food trough.
• They are relatively low maintenance, requiring fresh water, grass and a supply of hay during winter periods. Most alpaca owners also feed a very small quantity of mineral supplement to keep them in tip top condition.
• They are not aggressive animals however, they will attempt to protect themselves from dogs, cats or foxes who they think might pose a threat to the herd. They will also protect lambs and poultry if grazed with them.
• They are easier to keep than most other stock. They will respect dense hedges and pig fencing and because of their soft padded feet will not damage or poach the ground unlike some other stock.
• A small herd of three gelded males is an ideal way into alpaca ownership. They are great lawnmowers; they are good field pets or companion animals and will protect other stock.
• Gelded males provide the best quality fleece and if you are interesting in working with alpaca fibre we will help you select males with the best fleeces for spinning, weaving, knitting or felting.
• Females are sold for breeding purposes and there is a ready market for these attractive animals. Cria (baby alpacas) are just so beautiful. An acre of land will accommodate approximately five alpacas.

• Caring for Alpacas


• Alpacas very rarely challenge fencing so either post and rail or pig fencing will suffice. However some stud males will try anything to get to females!
• Alpacas are pretty robust but they will benefit from some kind of shelter be it a barn, towable field shelter or natural shelter from hedges and trees. Alpacas are able to tolerate extremes of temperature but the majority prefer to be able to shelter from driving rain.
• Like all livestock, you need to check them each day to ensure that they have come to no harm. Pregnant females and young cria will need additional attention. This is no hardship as sitting in a field of alpacas is just a wonderful experience. They are quite inquisitive and will come over to investigate you.
• Depending on your pasture and stocking rates, you will need to adopt a worming regime this can be done periodically throughout the year or when necessary through regular worm count analysis (sending off faecal samples to your vet) Alpacas will need regular vaccinations to prevent Clostridial and other diseases e.g. Blue Tongue. These can be either carried out by a vet or by yourselves.
• Alpaca toenails should be trimmed regularly; approximately four times a year, there is nothing quite like a good pedicure to add a spring to your step.