Many people have never heard of Alpaca’s and just assume they are a type of Llama. While they are similar in some ways, you aren’t likely to find a llama on an Alpaca farm. Alpaca’s are considerably smaller and are not used as “beasts of burden”, or animals that are meant to carry heavy loads.
Llamas tend to be a few hundred pounds heavier than Alpaca’s, and up to 2 feet taller. They also have ears that are shaped like a banana, while Alpaca’s have straight ears.
Alpaca’s are breed and kept for the fiber that they produce which can be spun and turned into yarn, much like a sheep. That yarn is then knitted into hats, gloves, blankets, scares, sweaters, dolls, and a variety of other high quality products.
In their native country of Peru, there are 52 natural Alpaca colors recognized. Her in The United States, we only recognize 16 of those colors.
While Alpaca’s are fairly new to The United States, they have actually been domesticated for thousands of years. The Moche, of northern Peru, have been breeding Alpaca for as far back as we can tell. Alpaca can be seen in art from all periods in which the Moche are known to exist.
There are no Alpaca known to live in the wild, strictly reserved for living on an Alpaca farm. The closest known relative of the Alpaca is the wild Vicuna. The Vicuna is also native to South America and is well known for producing soft fiber. Both Alpaca and Vicuna are members are classified as camelids, in the same ground as camels.
Alpacas are also social heard animals and cannot be expect to live alone. They are considered pray animals and they will always run from a fight if they can. If they need to defend themselves, they can kick and spit. While an Alpaca kick is not as deadly as a kick from hooves animals, because they have two soft padded toes, it will still leave a good bruise.
Breeding Your Alpaca
There is a lot to look at when you are breeding an Alpaca, but keep in mind that it is not an exact science. We have included a few considerations that you should think about
You don’t want to be put in a position where you have more Alpaca’s than you have room for on your Alpaca Farm. If you purchase 4 pregnant female Alpaca’s, then keep in mind that you are really purchasing 8 Alpaca’s that you will need room for. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you only need room for 4.
Another thing to consider when looking at the herd size on your Alpaca farm is bloodlines. You can’t breed two animals from the same bloodline. This is important if you purchase a package of Alpaca from another farm to expand from. If they are all related and you breed them from three related males at another farm, you will end up with a bunch of Alpaca’s that are all distance relatives and can’t breed.
Some farms look to end up with all of the same color or few designated colors. It can be difficult to keep to specific colors with breeding, but it helps to look at the family lineage. It will be near impossible to know what color you are going to get, but you may be able to narrow it down a little.
If you discover that neither the dam nor the sire have ever produced a silver baby, than you are safe to bet that the result is not going to be gray. Some Alpaca’s have also been known to produce certain colors more often than other colors depending on the sires color. We once knew of a brown dam that would produce the same silver as the sire without fail.
There are several desirable characteristics found in Alpaca that can be desirable. You want to keep an eye on all of them and breed with animals that have something that yours don’t. That is the way to improve the quality of the animals in your herd.
Fleece characteristics are a good example of something that you will want to pay attention to. If both parents exhibit good coverage, density, crimp, and fineness, then you are likely to have offspring that have the same. If every Alpaca on your Alpaca farm has great characteristics, then you will be able to keep the quality of your fleece very high.
Other characteristics that you can look for have to do with showing your animal. These can include size, stature, and bight. Your Alpaca can produce the best fleece on earth but it won’t matter if they are the smallest Alpaca on earth as well.