Every wonder what those cute little fuzzy butts that don't look like an llama or horse are at the state fair? Did you stop and touch it and notice how extremely soft it was?
Well with a little research you might discover it's the new up and coming fad in the states - an alpaca.
Alpacas are native of Peru and have been a part of the Incan civilization in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years - prior to coming to the states, and even Australia. The imperial people of Peru wore garments made of alpaca fleece and even used the alpaca in religious ceremonies. The value of the fleece was not realized until Sir Titus Salt of London, England re-discovered the alpaca fleece as being stronger than the typical sheeps wool and it then became an important imported textile to England. Alpacas were first imported into the United States in 1984.
Personally being from a big city and then all of a sudden moving onto an alpaca farm I can tell you these animals are low maintenance
! A city girl to a farm girl is not an easy switch and it's amazing how simple the convert was. They go to the potty in nice neat piles that resembles rabbit droppings and is easy to pick up and so forth, I think you get the idea.
About the Alpaca
The fleece for a Huacaya is sheered once a year, our farm is all Huacaya except for a half-in-half mix with the Suri alpaca species. The second type is Suri alpacas which resemble the puli dog and have pencil like dread-locked fleece and pending who you talk to they are also sheered once a year.
The alpaca lives for approximately 20 years and there gestation period is slightly over and around 11 months! That's a long time to wait for a cria to be born so everyone is very excited when a cria is born!
Alpacas to their back could be about 3 feet tall (varies) and if you include to the top of their heads 5 feetish. The males are typically larger than the females, but there are large females and small males. From personal experience region could also have a effect on the size - Eastern State's alpacas tend to be larger than animals from the western coastal states. And they weigh about 150 pounds - from experience unless you're wearing sandals it doesn't hurt when they step on ones foot.
They can even fit in the city! Meaning if you have only a few acres, a few alpacas can fit there too. AOBA recommends 5-10 per acres. But, I say the general rule of them as long as it's not looking over grazed you have the right amount in your field. Alpacas also require a minimal amount of fencing, we personally use something similar to a large chicken wire, which is a 5 foot no climb fence - nothing can get in or out.
Transporting an alpaca is easy too! You can many modes of transport but the most unthought of is what we use our Ford Aerostar mini-van! We can fit about 4 animals in it comfortably, we haven't tried more yet so maybe more too.
Alpacas are cud chewing animals, meaning they eat only their hay and specified alpaca grained which in the states the suppliers are: Land of Lakes and Buckeye Feed. They do not head butt or spit - they are considered among one of the safest barn yard (city too!) animals! Personal experience I have never seen anyone spit at in the years we've dealt with alpacas - they do spit at one another though when aggetated by the other- but that's rare.
Alpaca fleece is extremely soft and durable. The more you andlea fleece, be it a teddy bear or gloves it's gets softer! I have a teddybear that I sleep with, yes it's next to me every night, and it's soo soft from being 'tossed' around - everyone is amazed. The fleece comes in about 22 natural colors ranging from white, tan, fawn, silver, and black. The whites are dyeable to unnatural colors like the reds, blues and greens. It's said to be comparable to cashmere.
Are alpacas Earth friendly? according to OABA
- An alpacas feet are padded so they make little damage to the most delicate terrain while they munch on the native grasses.
- The alpaca has a three-compartment stomach. It converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.
- The alpaca is part of the camelid family so they don't require much water. But please give your alpaca fresh water daily, and in the winter use a heated bucket to keep the water from freezing!
- The alpaca typically does not eat trees - but please be careful when planning for alpacas because they are allergic to some trees and munching on the leaves maybe be poisonous to them consult your vet to see what trees are poisonous. Alpacas when eating grass only eat the tops which does not require them to pull up the roots.
- South American Indians use alpaca dung for fuel and gardeners use the dung for fertilizer. We personally use the dung for fertilizer on flower beds (uneatable because I don't fertilize plants I eat) and the dung is literally miracle gro from good old fuzzy butts!
- Your alpacas consolidate their feces in one or two spots in the pasture, thereby controlling the spread of parasites, and making it easy to collect and compost for fertilizer.
- An alpaca produces enough fleece each year to create several soft, warm sweaters for its owners comfort. This is the alpaca"s way of contributing to community energy conservation efforts.
Alpaca Related Entertainment
Alpaca owners are an unique community. They range in types of all sort of people from your super rich millionaires or to your people that are retiring and wanted some fuzzy butts to look out at on their land that was just kicking around.
There are several events such as fairs to show your animals at, shows to win ribbons at, and even auctions to watch the most valuable animals to sell for 100ksof dollars!
for more information please visit:
www.alpacainfo.com also a reference
www.geocities.com/custersalpacas our personal farm