Alpacas and llamas are both members of the camelid family. Essentially, they are cousins. Llamas are pack animals, and about twice the size of the alpaca. Alpacas grow a prized coat of fiber, and are too small for use as a pack animal. And we think the alpaca is much cuter. Much. Llamas can be a great addition to your alpaca herd, as they help ward off would-be predators.
There are 2 kinds of alpaca - Suri (rhymes with jury) and Huacaya (wha-ki'-ya). Suri comprise about 10% of the world's alpacas, and Huacaya 90%. Suri fiber is long, straight, lustrous, and silky, often shorn every 2 years. Huacaya fiber is dense, crimpy, and warmer than Suri, and shorn annually in late spring.
We raise Huacaya alpacas here at Grazing Hills. We personally like them better.
Alpaca fiber is as fine as the finest wool, and much stronger. It is over 5 times warmer than wool. Alpaca is very soft, and is ideal for garments worn next to the skin. Alpaca comes in 22 natural colors, the widest range of any animal on the planet. It is among the world's most luxurious fibers. Most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a cashmere and an alpaca garment. Alpaca doesn't contain lanolin, so, most people that are sensitive to regular wool, aren't allergic or sensitive to alpaca!
Alpacas typically have just a single baby, called a cria (cree'-ah). It takes over 11 months for the baby to develop, and it weighs between 14 and 20 pounds at birth. Labor is typically short, from 1 to 3 hours, and births are usually daytime events. The cria is weaned at about 6 months. This is also when we train them to lead on a halter. If twins are born, they are usually malformed and don't survive. It's very rare on our farm to have twins.
Yes. But, not really. I mean, they do...they can. But they aren't "mean" spitters. Alpacas are gentle and quite intelligent. Spitting is a communication/pecking order behavior between alpacas, and they rarely spit at people unless provoked. The barn walls will prove this point.
Alpacas are herd animals, so you need to have 2 for companionship. Registered alpacas range in price from $1,000 to over $100,000, depending on gender, age, and ranking at national alpaca shows. "Pet" quality, unregistered alpacas, are from $300 to $1,000 on our farm (these are usually neutered males). We have lots of package deals available right now. So, contact us for more information. We have an alpaca for any budget!