Phil & Chris Switzer * Estes Park, CO * 970-586-4624 *
Paco-Vicuņas & Alpacas Thrive in Colorado's Switzer-Land
Since 1980 the Switzers have been breeding and raising fiber-producing animals. Their interest began with Chris' love for weaving and spinning and with a life-saving call to the Denver Zoo.
Chris found out about a young neutered female llama that the zoo was going to put to sleep, due to some physical problems. The zoo let Chris have the llama as a fiber and pet llama. Both Switzers quickly fell in love with the gentle animal.
Soon after, they purchased another female llama for breeding purposes and later a gelding llama to use as a pack animal for hiking.
In 1985 the Switzers became the first alpaca farm in Colorado and the whole Rocky Mountain region. Their initial purchase was a silver-gray stud, Barron. At the same time they also bought three female alpacas - Inti (white), La Paz (golden) and Moche (burgundy brown). Within a few weeks both Switzers were hooked on alpacas.
Phil soon found himself traveling from coast to coast in a pickup pulling a trailer. He purchased and brought back to Colorado alpacas from the few importers scattered across the country.
Today the Switzer alpaca herd is composed of 100 animals mostly Paco-Vicuņas. By keeping it that size, Chris said, they are able to participate in the care and training of their animals. They do employ one full-time ranch hand to help with the farm's operation and some part-time weekend help.
"We take pride in our well-trained and friendly alpacas. Over the years, we have had our animals in many parades, fairs, nursing homes, schools, preschools and at educational events," the Switzers say.
They take part in these activities as part of their continuing desire to promote education about alpacas, llamas, Paco-vicuņa, weaving, spinning and the Andes region of South America.
"There is so much communication between animals and children, it's amazing," Chris says.
Phil was a founding board member of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA). He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Alpaca Registry Inc. (ARI). Phil was a member of the AOBA board of directors when the alpaca registry was created. The registry records blood by DNA to verify the parentage of each alpaca to assure purity of the breed. He is one of six trained Phenotypic Screeners for the Registry (ARI) whose job was to go to the country of origin and inspect the imported alpacas to make sure they met the registry criteria.
For many years, Chris has contributed articles to a number of different trade publications, among them a column, "Woolly Tidbits", in Llamas magazine. She also wrote the "Alpaca Gallery" for Alpacas magazine. She has also taught weaving and spinning workshops at many conferences and in yarn shops. Chris started the Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association library and operated it for six years. She was in charge of the Estes Park Wool Market's educational workshops and on the primary organizational committee for six years, since it began. Chris judges handspun yarns and finished items at a variety of events. She has a BFA in Weaving from Colorado State University 1984.
herd - a new breed of high quality fiber animals with exquisite looks.
Phil & Chris now have a herd of over 120 Paco-Vicuņas
and are the main purchasing source for quality Paco-Vicuņas
in the U.S. Visit the Paco-Vicuņa
page for more information as well as the registry site at www.paco-vicunaregistry.com.
The Switzers have worked hard to breed animals with good conformation, fiber
quality and a wide variety of colors producing many award-winning animals.
Phil & Chris Switzer
Switzer-Land Paco-Vicuņas & Alpacas
1236 Glacier View Lane
Estes Park, CO 80517-8212