The Alpaca is one of the world's oldest domesticated species dating back nearly 6000 years. Alpacas originate from the Andes Mountains of the South American countries of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. They are members of the camelid family, along with domesticated llamas and camels and wild vicunas and guanacos. The ancient Incan civilization held the alpaca in high regard, and they played an important role in the daily and spiritual life of its people. The finest clothing woven from alpaca fibre was reserved for Incan Royalty.
There are 2 types of alpacas, the Huacaya with its fluffy crimpy fleece and the Suri, who's fleece hangs down from its body in a variety of ringlet type lock structures. The lifespan of an alpaca is from 15 -20 years. Babies or "cria", are born after a 335 – 340 day gestation, as a single birth, usually in early daylight hours. Alpaca cria are generally vigorous, up nursing and moving about in the first hour. Alpaca are efficient eaters requiring only small quantities of low-protein feed and good quality pasture. There is a strong herding instinct and complex social hierarchy in the herd which provides safety against predators. This herding instinct is why alpacas should never be kept as an individual animal.
Huacaya alpacas have adjusted very well to our Manitoba climate. They grow an exceptionally warm fleece and require annual shearing. Alpaca fleece is fine, soft and warm and come in 22 colours from white and cream to fawn and variations and blends of brown, grey and black. Alpaca fibre is exceptionally strong and resilient, hypo-allergenic, naturally water repellant and has a natural luster. It is one of the world's finest, most luxurious fibres, it is extremely versatile and desired by clothing manufactures of the world. Quality products are made from each grade of alpaca fibre produced.
Alpacas are an investment that the whole family can enjoy. They are easily maintained, quiet, gentle and intelligent creatures who as well as being out-standing fibre producers, make an excellent 4-H project, pet/ companion animal and a superior livestock for small acreages.