The alpaca is a gentle, intelligent, and
curious animal. In the U.S. they are raised for their intrinsic value
as breeding stock and for their fiber and are shorn once a year. Other
factors that make them ideal for new and small breeders are that they
don't require extraordinary care, feed, or housing and are easy to
handle and train.
In addition, national and regional
organizations like GLAA exist to help members promote and market their
alpacas and fiber co-ops exist to help breeders cost effectively
process their fiber.
the Spanish invaded South America in the 1500's they found what to them
was a new type of animal--woolly with a long neck--called "pacos." From
"el paca" in Spanish, the word evolved to alpaca. Alpacas are members
of the Camelid family, which also includes camels, llamas, guanacos,
and vicuna. Unlike the llama and camel, which are used primarily as a
pack animals, the alpaca is raised for its fine fiber. The two main
breeds of alpacas are huacayas and
suris. As of December 2002, the
Alpaca Registry (ARI) showed registered currently over 40,000 alpacas in the U.S., about 33,000 of them huacayas and about 7,200 of them suris.
alpaca itself is a small endearing animal, generally weighing between
120 and 180 pounds. Their diet consists mostly of pasture grass and/or
hay and fresh water. Most breeders supplement with minerals and
vitamins, and some feed, especially during the depths of a Great Lakes
winter. In spite of the Alpaca's delicate appearance and gentle
disposition, they are hardy animals which adapt to nearly any climate
and require very little special care.