Alpacas are the source of a luxurious fiber. The fleece, comparable to cashmere, is known for its fineness, light weight, and luster. Alpaca textile products are recognized world wide. Because of the limited supply of fiber in North America, the current fiber market is based primarily on a cottage industry of handspinners, weavers, and fiber artists.
The "back to basics" lifestyle which is a part of living with alpacas is also very appealing to many people searching for a business opportunity that can be operated from home and will involve the entire family. Generous tax advantages for the hands on breeder and the chance to generate income, may be incentives for those wanting to exchange high stress corporate or professional lives for country living.
Alpacas can be easily trained to lead, and are gentle enough to be handled safely by children. Gelded males are often kept as pets. A handbook on alpacas has been developed for use by members of 4-H and is available through AOBA. This publication is certain to add to the increasing interest in alpacas as 4-H projects.
Because of their high aesthetic appeal, alpacas are also desirable show animals. Alpaca shows, which include halter and performance classes, are held throughout North America and are great fun for the family. An increasing number of these shows are santioned by the AOBA Show Division and are held in conjunction with llama shows. Halter classes are similar to show events for other forms of livestock, while the performance classes may include both obstacle course and costume classes. Showmanship classes test the skill of the alpaca handler.
Although the llama, a cousin to the alpaca, should be the choice for any serious packing, alpacas can carry light packs for day trip hikes.