• Alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played an important role in the Incan culture that was located on the Andean Plateau and high mountains of South America (Peru, Chile and Bolivia).  

  • Alpacas produce luxurious and valuable fleece in a multitude of natural colors. The worldwide fiber market officially recognizes 22 natural colors of alpaca (they produce more natural colors than any other fiber producing animal).  Alpaca fleece is as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter, and much stronger than sheep wool.  A single alpaca produces enough fleece each year to create several soft warm sweaters for its owner's comfort.  As a testimony to the quality of alpaca fleece, clothing made of alpaca fiber was once reserved for Incan royalty.  Now spinners and weavers around the world can now appreciate the luxurious fibers from the alpaca.

    Be sure to read this fabulous article, titled
    "Secrets of the Alpaca Mummies" from Discover Magazine.

  • Today, there are excellent profit opportunities and attractive tax advantages available to alpaca breeders.  

    • Raising alpacas is a growing industry and the demand for breeding stock has been steady. Each animal is blood-typed and registered. As a result the registry bloodlines have been kept pure. The current alpaca industry is based on the sale of quality breeding stock, which demands premium prices. With the small number of alpacas currently available along with the slow reproduction rate of one baby per year per animal, the market for these animals will continue many years into the future.  

    • If alpacas are actively raised for profit, all the expenses attributable to this endeavor can be written off against your income.  Tangible property (breeding stock, barns, fences) can be depreciated.  Alpacas can also be insured against loss.  Alpaca breeding allows for tax deferred wealth building (example:  a small owner can purchase several alpacas and then allow his herd to grow over time without paying income tax on its increased size and value).  Another bonus that many will appreciate is that alpacas do not require butchering in order to be a profitable investment.  A very helpful IRS publication, #225, entitled The Farmers Tax Guide, can be obtained online or from your local IRS office.

    • Alpacas are practical as part of a stress-free lifestyle.  They are beautiful, intelligent, gentle, clean, disease resistant, earth-friendly farm animals. They are small, easy to handle and halter train.  In addition, they make wonderful pets that can be transported easily in the family van. 

    • Alpacas are low maintenance. They require little daily maintenance. An acre of land can pasture 5-10 alpacas. Good animal husbandry does require occasional grooming, trimming of toenails and teeth, vaccinations, as well as the annual or bi-annual shearing of the fleece. 

More Alpaca Information

  • Alpacas were first imported in the US in 1984.

  • Alpacas are members of the Camelid Family and are cousins to the Llama.  Click here to see the taxonomic classification (family tree) of the alpaca.

  • There are two types of alpacas - the Huacaya (which has fiber that is wooly in appearance) and the Suri (whose fiber hangs long in silky, pencil sized ringlets).

  • Alpacas eat grasses and chew a cud.

  • Instead of hooves, alpacas have padded feet with two toes making them gentle on the land.

  • Alpacas require no special fences or barns. Fences should be designed to keep out dogs and coyotes.

  • The lifespan of an alpaca is about 20-25 years

  • Alpacas do not go "into heat". They are induced ovulators and can be bred year-round.

  • The gestation period of a pregnant female is about 11.5 months; twins are extremely rare.

  • A baby alpaca is called a cria and only weighs between 15 - 19 pounds at birth.

  • The average weight of an adult alpaca is about 150 pounds.

  • A typical adult alpaca stands about 3 feet tall at the withers.

  • Alpacas will spit on one another if sufficiently angered, but will rarely spit on people. :)

  • The Alpaca Registry Inc. (ARI) has been established to document bloodlines. Alpacas must be blood typed in order to be registered. Virtually every alpaca in the U.S. is registered.


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