Originating in South America alpacas are descendants of an ancient camel-like ancestor. During the time of the Incas alpacas were held in high esteem due to their high quality fibre and low fat meat.
There are two breeds of alpaca which are classified by fleece character, both are soft and luxurious. Huacaya have a rounded teddy like appearance. Their fibre grows perpendicular in thick staples and is extremely dense. Suri fibre instead grows downwards in long individual locks and is renowned for its deep lustre.
We provide the highest standard of welfare for our animals. Alpacas are herd animals and only feel safe with their own kind. Alpacas are hardy animals but at least twice daily inspections are required. It is essential to spend time with the herd observing their behaviour and habits as this is an invaluable guide to their health and well being. Alpacas require a fresh clean water supply and a shelter during cold and wet weather. Fields should be free from weeds and any poisonous shrubs or trees and securely fenced, not using barbed wire as this can snag on the fleece.
Vaccinations are required to prevent clostridial disease. Faecal egg counts will identify when and if worming is required. Vitamin injections are given periodically over the winter months, especially vitamin D which is found in sunshine and would usually be received year round at high altitude in South America. Teeth, gums and jaw should be checked regularly, teeth need occasional trimming which would be done at shearing. Routine foot care is required which includes checking the foot and between the toes and trimming the toe nails.
Cria is the name for Baby Alpacas. Female Alpacas are pregnant for approx 11 1/2 months. They usually give birth during daylight hours. Cria are usually weaned from their mothers at approx 6 months of age or when they are over 30kg.
Alpaca fleece is one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. Huacaya Alpacas are sheared once every year in spring or early summer. Alpaca fleece is soft compared with sheep's wool, it is warmer, less prickly and has no lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic. In the UK there are 12 recognised colours. However, there are 22 internationally recognised shades ranging from white to black. Fleece weight ranges from 3.5kg to 7kg. Hand spinners and fibre artists like to buy raw fleece. Alpaca fleece can be made into luxurious items or garments.
Alpacas are modified ruminants that chew the cud, they therefore eat grass and require approx 1 acre per 5 alpacas, with the addition of hay which is available ad lib all year round. Alpacas also require a special feed which contains the additional minerals and vitamins they require that are lacking in UK grazing. They also require extra vitamins over the winter period and in the later stages of pregnancy