What are Alpacas and what are they used for?
Alpacas are a regal animal, gentle, graceful and intelligent, a joy to own and work with. They are members of the camelid family, which were domisticated over 5000 years ago in the highlands of Peru, making them the oldest domestic animals in the world. Their multi-hued fibre is soft, luxurious and lightweight, stronger and warmer than wool, coming in 22 different shades of color. Alpacas are shorn once a year yeilding 5-10 pounds of exquisite fleece. The fibre, virtually grease-free, can be hand spun directly off the animal. Alpacas are gentle, intelligent, clean, earth friendly, and profitable making them one of the easiest animals to raise.
Where do Alpacas come from?
Alpacas come from the High Andes of South America (Peru, Bolivia and Chile). This makes the Alpaca very adaptable to a variety of climates from very cold to very warm.
How much acreage do you need to raise Alpacas?
They are an ideal small acreage livestock. Typically you can raise 5-8 alpacas on 1 acre depending on the quality of your pasture. Alpacas are gentle on the land as they have soft padded feet and two toes. They use a communal dung pile making pasture and manure management easy.
What and how much do they eat?
Alpacas are ruminants with a three compartment stomach. They chew their cud like cattle and sheep. Alpacas prefer to eat fresh grass. In the summertime they prefer to be in the pasture and you only need to feed them a pellet supplement. During the winter they will require a good grass hay and slightly more pellets to insure they have adequate vitamins and minerals.