Saturday, October 18, 2008

What IS an Alpaca Anyway?

A few of our alpacas (lft. to rt.)Siege, Minette, Portia, Caesar, and Tapioka.

Alpacas are members of the camelid family. The alpaca is a fiber-bearing, domesticated animal, considered to be livestock. They are very gentle animals. Alpacas have large, expressive eyes and are easy to care for. They are easy on the environment because they do not pull grass out by the roots and their soft, padded feet don’t harm the ground. Alpacas grow to be about 3 feet high at the withers and 4.5 feet high on the top of the head. Adult alpacas weigh about 150 lbs. on average. Pregnant females (dams) bear only one offspring per year. The gestation period is between 11-12 months. A baby alpaca is called a cria, which means creation in Spanish. Crias weigh between 12-20 lbs. at birth. Alpacas produce between 2-10 lbs. of fiber a year. They come in 22 specified colors with many shades in between, more than any other fiber-bearing animal.

Alpacas are ruminants and eat grass, hay, and alpaca feed. 7-8 alpacas can generally be put out to graze on one acre of pasture. They also eat a small amount of pellet type food daily. Alpacas need to be sheared once a year. In the summertime they need access to fresh water, shade, and air circulation to do well. With proper management alpacas can thrive in hot, humid climates. Currently, alpacas are being raised in all 50 states. To care for an alpaca it costs about as much as it does to raise a medium size dog, including medication and feed. Alpacas can be insured against theft and full mortality. Alpaca ownership has great tax advantages. They are considered to be the world's finest livestock investment. For more information on these lovely creatures, visit our farm website.


Lazy Daisy Glass said...

Found your blog through Twittermoms. I just love your Alpacas, they are so cute. You have so many, it must take up alot of your time

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

Yes, it does take some time to care for this many alpacas. But I have some secret weapons, 4 kids and a husband, AND a full-time farm manager, Jeremy. Jeremy does a lot for the farm which allows me to still be "Mommy". He is a blessing!

Caring for 15 alpacas and under is a snap. It's when the number gets over 20 that it is like a "job". But still a fun one.