Phil & Chris Switzer * Estes Park, CO * 970-586-4624 * 

philalpaca@aol.com or chrisalpaca@aol.com


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Alpaca Facts
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Alpaca Facts

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 following characteristics:

  • 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
970-586-4624   Home