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1. What is an Alpaca?
Alpacas are members of the Camelid family, along with camels, llamas, guanacos, and vicuñas.
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2. Are there different types?
Yes. There are two types. The Suri has long fibers that resemble strands of rope. The Huacaya has a more fluffy fiber with a lot of crimp. ABQ Alpacas have only huacayas for sale in the US. We have both Suris and Huacayas in Chile. | To Top

3. The Alpaca Family.
The dam is a Hembra.
The sire is a Macho.
The young are Cria.
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4. How big are Alpacas?
Their size. Baby alpacas weigh 5-9 Kgs at birth. In adulthood, they weigh between 45 -70 Kgs. Adults are about as tall as your hip, or 80-90 cms tall. | To Top

5. Do they spit?
Not very often. When they do, it's usually when their food or young is threatened. As a general rule alpacas are very social and each has a distinct personality. They are gentle and non-aggressive and will halter train. | To Top

6. How long do they live?
Alpacas live around 20-25 years. | To Top

7. Feeding requirements.
Alpacas are browsers rather than grazers. they thrive on a low protein high fibre diet.
A maximum of 14% protein in the diet is recommended. They also like meadow hay and silage.
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8. Do we need a big farm?
Alpacas can be managed at a stocking rate of 4-6 per acre or 10 to 15 per hectare, depending on the amount of grazing available. | To Top

9. Are they messy?
No, they are very tidy animals. The waste can be placed in a compost pile and makes excellent garden fertilizer. | To Top

10. Do Alpacas need a barn/shelter?
Yes, although the alpacas are accustomed to the cold of the Andes, depending on your location barns or very good shelter may be needed as protection from the severe winter storms. This is very important for Crias during the week after birth. Alpacas are accustomed to the cold weather of the Andes Mountains. Their fiber provides excellent insulation and protection from the cold. As for heat protection, they should be shorn in spring or early summer allowing them to remain cool during the hot summer months, and shade is a must. | To Top

11. Fencing requirements.
Fences are erected not as much to keep alpacas in (they will rarely challenge a fence), but more to keep predators out. Straying dogs are the main concern. A 5 or 6 foot boundary fence of deer fence is most suitable. Normal sheep type fences are suitable for internal fencing. | To Top

12. Breeding.
Alpacas are mature enough to breed around 12 to 16 months old. They have no season, or menstrual cycle, as many other animals do. Rather, they are induced ovulators, meaning the eggs of the female are released in response to mating.Gestation is around 340 days. Re mating is best 14 to 18 days after giving birth. Crias are normally weaned at 6 to 7 months of age. During their life time females can produce 15 or more Cria. The males are usually sexually mature at 2 to 2 1/2 years of age. | To Top

13. Veterinary care.
Not really. Most of the health care that alpacas require can be done by the owner. They need an immunization injection once a year, deworming normally twice a year maybe more depending on the environment they are running under. Toe nail trimming is normally done once a year at shearing. Vaccinating and worming are also done at this time. | To Top

14. Do you shear Aplacas?
Yes, alpacas are usually shorn once a year in the spring or early summer. The fleece from shearing one year's growth will weigh about 5 pounds per alpaca, enough to make 6 or 7 sweaters. Their fiber is an incredible commodity. It is soft like cashmere and strong like mohair. Alpaca fleece is very warm and is an exceptional insulator, because the fiber is hollow, products have a very soft feel and are comfortable to wear. | To Top

15. Fibre selling.
There are 2 main outlets to market your fiber. Weavers and hand spinners love to work with alpaca fiber. The price is influenced by the color and the quality of the fleece with the average price being US$3 to US$5 per ounce, less in other countries. The second outlet is the commercial market. Alpaca owners and breeders around the world are actively in the promotion of the fibre and are involved with fibre co-operatives assisting breeders to sell their products into the commercial markets. | To Top

Further alpaca information. The Alpaca Book by Eric Hoffman and Dr Murray Fowler.

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