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All About Alpacas

Alpacas are a species of South American Camelids and descended from the vicuna. Alpacas are traditionally bred for their fibre, which is used for making knitted and woven items, they also make great trekkers! Alpacas are herd animals, which is why we have a group of six beautiful boys.

We believe our small herd of alpacas will melt your heart, but don’t take our word for it. Meet our boys on this page or better still come and book a trek to meet them in person.

Alpaca Background

Alpacas are members of the camelid family. They originate from Peru in South America. There are two types of alpaca. The Huacaya (which produce a dense, soft, crimpy sheep-like fiber), and the Suri (with silky pencil-like locks, resembling dreadlocks but without matted fibers). Our alpacas are Huacaya and these are the more common type of Alpacas in the UK and worldwide.

Alpacas are often confused with llamas, the two animals are closely related and can be successfully inter-bred. Alpacas are much smaller than llamas. Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years, there are no wild alpacas. Alpacas are descended from the vicuña (their wild ancestor), they were domesticated from the vicuñas by the ancient tribes of the Andean highlands of Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Northwest of Argentina.

About Alpacas

Alpacas tend to live for around 20 years. They are bred mainly for their fibre (alpaca meat is eaten in South America) but more recently they have also been used for trekking (like our little herd).

Alpacas grow to be just under a meter tall and an adult alpaca will weigh between 60-90kg. Baby alpacas (crias) normally weight between 6-8kg at birth.

Alpacas are very safe to be around. They do not bite or butt and do not have sharp teeth, horns, hooves, or claws as other types of livestock do. They move peacefully about their paddocks and are therefore unlikely to run into or over anyone, even small children. Occasionally, an alpaca will reflexively kick with its hind legs, especially if touched from the rear, but the soft padded feet usually do little more than just "get your attention." This is why they are perfect for trekking.

Alpaca Fleece/Fibre

Alpaca fleece is generally stronger, lighter, warmer, and more resilient than sheep wool. Finer grades of alpaca fleece (known commercially as "Baby Alpaca") are believed to be hypo-allergenic, meaning it does not irritate your skin as sheep’s wool sometimes does. Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece contains no lanolin and is therefore ready to spin after nominal cleaning. Prized for itsoft, silky feel and easy handle, alpaca fleece is highly sought-after by both cottage-industry artists (hand spinners, knitters, weavers, etc.) as well as the commercial fashion industry.

Alpaca fibre only contains two pigments (black or red), although there are 22 recognised fleece colours ranging from white to fawns to browns to black, there are also greys and rose greys. They stay the colour they are at birth throughout life. These colours are all derived from different levels of the two pigments (or in the case of white the complete lack of any pigment).

Alpacas in the UK

Alpacas have been in the U.K. since the middle of the 19th century, mostly in zoos. The first privately-owned alpacas in England were surplus zoo stock, and these formed the foundation of several early alpaca herds. In the early 1990’s, there were only about 150 alpacas in the UK. Wider interest was stirred when a group of 300 huacaya alpacas were imported from Chile in the mid-90s. Now there are around 70,000 alpacas in the UK, this still represents a very small percentage of the total alpacas world-wide (roughly 94% of alpacas are in their native South America).