Native to the highlands of South America the alpaca, once raised by the ancient Incas and Aztec civilizations, is the oldest form of domesticated livestock known to man. Alpacas are Camelids and belong to the genus Lama which consist of 4 species Llama, Alpacas, Guanacos and Vicunas. Guanacos and Vicunas are wild, Llamas and Alpacas are domesticated. Today most of the worlds 3 million plus Alpacas are found in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Canada United States, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries have discovered the benefits of raising alpacas and have imported from these countries
“Huacaya” is the most common alpaca. They have soft bonnets of fiber on their forehead, (called a top notch) dense body fiber grows straight out from the body. The rarer Suri alpaca and is covered in long pencil fine locks which hang straight down from the body. Alpacas weigh from 125 – 175 lbs. with an average height at the withers of 36 inches. The babies (called cria) weigh around 18 lbs. at birth and are nearly always born in daylight hours. Crias are up and walking in minutes and running after only a few hours. An Alpaca’s gestation period is about 340 days (average). Alpacas are very clean animals and use a common dung pile. They are hardy, easy to care for and remarkably disease free. Being a herd animal they usually band together. You will find them very curious and intelligent animals. In just a few sessions an alpaca will learn to lead or load to a vehicle. While traveling they lie down (cush).
Apacas are very quiet in general. The most common communication is a soft humming sound. They will cluck to their cria occasionally and when worried omit an alarm call which is shrill and high pitched similar to a hoot owl. When breeding the male will orgle, and during scraps for dominance they will scream at each other. Alpacas require little care other than shearing once a year, toenail trimming, annual inoculations, and deworming twice or three times a year. Being very efficient feeders they do not require high protein feed. Care should be taken to have a well balanced mineral content. Females are bred from 12 to 18 months at which time the are called “hembras”. Female alpacas are induced ovulators, and do not have a heat cycle therefore can be bred anytime. They are capable of producing one offspring a year for about 20 years. Twin births do occur but are rare. The new mothers are often rebred 2-3 weeks after giving birth. Males reach breeding age around 2-3 years of age at which time are called “machos”. Care should be taken as young males have been known to breed as young as a year.
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