Alpaca facts

Alpacas are wonderfully intelligent, curious, adaptable and eco-friendly animals. They originated from the Altiplano in Peru and were bred by the Incas for their luxuriant, silky fleeces. Fleece which the Incas hailed as 'The Fibre of the Gods'.

Alpacas live approximately 15 to 20 years; grow to about 1 metre in height and weigh up to 70 kilograms. They begin life as crias and grow into Hembras (females) or Machos (males). Alpaca females mature at 12-14 months of age; are induced ovulators; have a gestation period of 335 days and normally give birth during the daylight hours. Birthing is generally trouble free and very quick, with cria able to stand and nurse within 1 hour. Females are ready to remate after 21 days.

Alpacas have soft padded feet, not hooves, thereby minimising degradation to the land. They are gentle browsers, therfore, allowing faster pasture regrowth. They have communal dung piles away from their grazing areas, which greatly reduces chances of parasite infestations. Alpacas require annual shearing and twice yearly vaccinations, as well as the occasional trimming of the teeth and toenails. They do not suffer from flystrike or footrot. Stocking rates are at least 2 alpacas to 1 sheep.

Alpacas are psuedo-ruminants and do well on low protein pasture. Supplementary feeding in winter or in the later stages of pregnancy is required. Trees and bushes provide the best protection against extreme weather.

Alpaca fibre is natural and unique. It can be used on its own or blended with merino, silk, cotton, linen, or mohair. It is warm, hypoallergenic, naturally strong, lightweight, silky soft, anti inflammable and resistant to odour, tearing, staining, moisture, static and wearing.

Alpacas can also be bred as meat animals, as their meat is very high in protein but low in fat. The meat is called 'Viende' and tastes similiar to beef.