Just the same as our sheep, our alpacas are just pets. I say ‘Just’, but they are more like part of the family.
What I mean is, they are not for breeding, we are not kniting jumpers from the fleece or selling them for burgers. They are here for life.
When we moved to Moorparks we had no intention of keeping alpacas, to be honest I don’t think I had seen one before. So, we moved in and then I realised that there is a lot of grass to cut somehow. Only a few weeks after moving here we made a trip to the Mid Devon show, one of the first areas we came to had alpacas….we were hooked.
I went on a course to learn a little about them and see if it was something we could do, taking into account we had only ever had a cat before. The course was very informative and confirmed that alpacas were coming to Moorparks.
So, where do you buy an alpaca from ? We almost bought ours from the same place as the training course, but I decided that was a little too far away for any ongoing help which I was sure I would need. I did a google search and found someone only six miles away who had alpacas, I made a call to try and find out a little more about them as I was still nervous.
I’m not quite sure of what happened next, but after our visit to Cadenza Alpacas it seems we had agreed to buy three pet boys. I’m still not sure what she put in that tea! (she will tell you a different story)
You may see the boys on one of our animal web cams.
Cooper was the youngest of the first three and wanted to play all the time. Toffee was too grumpy to play and Paul thought it beneath him so we decided to look for another alpaca to play with Cooper. We went to look for a younger alpaca and found someone selling three……fantastic, a choice I thought. We went to view them, the problem is Michele liked one and I liked a different one. We spoke to Kate about buying the two and she said “But that would leave one!” ……so we bought all three.
• There are two types of alpaca, the Suri (‘SUR-ree’) , which have a long dreadlock type fleece and the Huacaya (‘wah-KI-yah’) which ours are.
• Originally alpacas came from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile……. ours came six miles from Torrington!
• Alpacas are mainly kept for their fleece with some breeders also supplying to the meat trade.
• The gestation period is about 11-12 months
• Alpacas don’t give birth, they ‘Unpack’
• A baby alpaca is called a Cria
• An adult alpaca can reach approx. 90kg
• Most females can produce 10 – 12 cria in a lifetime
• Alpacas can live well past 20 years of age
• Alpacas are sheared annually, usually in the spring.
• The fiber may be sold and processed, spun into yarn, knitted or woven into fine fabrics.
• Alpaca fiber is softer than cashmere or angora, and warmer and lighter weight than wool, without the prickle-factor that some wool has. Since alpaca fleece has no lanolin, it is easier to process and is hypoallergenic.
We have some of the processed fibre and a few products if you would like to see them.
Although we don’t say the ‘L’ word around here (Llama), you may want to know the difference.
Has short spear shaped ears
Weighs around 90kg fully grown
Has a fine fiber fleece used for clothing
Is a herd animal
Don’t spit, or at least only at each other
The owners are very intelligent*
Has long banana shaped ears
Weighs around 200kg fully grown
Has a very coarse hair
Happy to spit at people
Owners not so clever*
* I read this on the internet, so it must be true. 🙂