Alpacas are members of the camel (camelid) family.
Camelids originated on the central plains of North America. Three million years ago
ancestral camelids migrated to South America. By the end of the last Ice Age, camelids
became extinct in North America.
The ancestral camelid evolved into the
present day wild vicuna and wild guanaco in the Andean highlands (Peru, Bolivia and Chile)
of South America. About 6,000 years ago the natives of the Andean highlands began the
domestication of the vicuna into the present day alpaca as a fiber-producing animal.
They developed in the alpaca the
Fine, soft, dense fiber.
Fiber that is almost free of guard hair
and is "no-itch fiber."
A small, very gentle, submissive animal
for ease of shearing.
Wool in more than 20 natural colors
that would not have to be dyed.
Many American alpacas have been
registered with the Alpaca Registry Inc., they are all DNA tested to insure the purity
of the breed.
Types of Alpaca
Fluffy fiber with some crimp.
Shiny straight fiber that parts
along the neck and back line and hangs down.
A cross between the alpaca
and its wild ancestor the vicuna. Produce very fine vicuņa-like fiber. Learn
more at the Paco-vicuņa page.
Physical Facts of Huacaya Alpaca
|Life Span: About 18-20 years.|
|Average Height: 3 ft. at shoulder, 4.5 at head.|
||Average Weight: Adult 150-185 lbs., baby 16-20 lbs.|
||Average Gestation: 11 months and 1 week.|
||Birth: A baby is normally delivered without human
assistance during morning daylight hours. Twinning is extremely rare. The babies are
normally up and nursing within 90 minutes. They are weaned at 6-7 months.|
||Reproduction: Females are first bred at 13-18 months.
Alpacas are induced ovulators and can be bred at any time of the year.|
||Color: Fiber colors range from true, non-fading black to
cream white with roans, pintos, browns, reds, fawns, rose grays, charcoal grays and
many others in between.|
||Fiber Production: The average production is about 4-6
pounds per year per adult alpaca and sells (in a clean state) for about $3 to $5 per ounce
for handspinners. Shearing is recommended every year (depending on your climate).|
||Health: Alpacas are very hardy, healthy, and easy to care
for. In most cases a veterinarian will come only twice a year for shots and other
maintenance procedures (depends on your area, ask your vet).|
Phil & Chris Switzer
Switzer-Land Paco-Vicuņas & Alpacas
1236 Glacier View Lane
Estes Park, CO 80517-8212