For people who don’t understand, alpacas are small-built mammals standing about 5 feet tall and weighing 100 to 200 lbs. They belong to the family, and are about the Asian camel, the South American llama and the vicuna.
When invading Spaniards brought European cattle with them, alpacas were forced to migrate to the Andes mountains where they settled down and bred.
These gentle and docile animals are mainly raised for their luxurious fleece or fiber. Alpaca fiber is woven to provide warm clothes that’s deemed superior to wool.
Fabrics made of alpaca wool aren’t just functional, but also have been considered a luxury for centuries.
In the 1980’s, these animals were exported from South America, to other countries, including the US, which started maintaining their own herds.
The alpaca livestock in the US is mainly of two types. One is the huacaya, with a fuzzy, or teddy-bearish, coat. The other type – the suri – has a long coat of glistening locks, that part down the alpaca’s back and cascade down both sides.
The few of the present animals, compared to other grazing farm cattle, has helped keep the expense of alpaca fiber high.
Alpaca fiber can be utilised in its normal colour, or, in the case of the lighter tints, be dyed darker. This, together with the fact that alpacas have more color variations than any other mammal, makes them more commercially viable.
They are found in more than 22 colors, with beige, white, fawn, brown, grey, and black being the principal ones. Spots are also prevalent, similar to pinto and appaloosa horses, as well as various color legs and face from the rest of the body.
Apart from having sufficient finances, you must also have the right aptitude to back alpacas. You have to love animals, and the outdoors, and be attuned to raising pets. In other words, you must make certain that you give them love and affection, and treat them as”family”.
On their part, alpacas are perfect gentle pets. They don’t bite like camels, but might spit at you in case you confine them in a small place. They are extra caring with small children, and gregarious – they combine well with other animals and people.
Alpacas are playful. They communicate with one another by humming. They emit a high pitched bray, or alert call, when a stray dog or another animal, enters their pasture.
The young ones or crias gambol like lambs, possibly to be able to build up body heat, which is necessary in the cold nights of the mountain ranges. Alternatively, it may just be a case of high spirits.
Their small size is just another point in favor of breeding alpacas. Even the elderly, children and petite girls will find it easy to lead these creatures.
You can have a look at alpacas, live, at various shows, where you can see for yourself what good breeding can perform. You can even have the feel of genuine luxurious alpacas fleece.