General Information


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Alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played a central role in the Incan culture that was located on the high Andean Plateau and mountains of South America. Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. Alpacas are now being successfully raised and enjoyed throughout North America and abroad.

Alpacas are a fiber-producing member of the camelid family raised exclusively for their soft and luxurious wool. Their fleeces are normally sheared once a year. Each shearing produces approximately 5-10 pounds of fiber per alpaca, per year.

There are two types of “humped” camels. One is the single humped dromedary of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Asia. The other is the two-humped Bactrian of the Gobi Desert in China and Tibet. Then there are two “horse-like”, double fleeced members of the camel family. These are the wild guanaco and the domesticated llama. The last two members of the “fiber-bearing” camel family are the wild vicuna and the domesticated alpaca.

When you strike out to visit a handful of alpaca farms to gather your information, be sure to take along some Alpaca Etiquette with you. You’ll be glad you did.


  1. BulletThe Lifestyle

  2. Primary or part-time business venture.

  3. A rewarding family experience.

  4. Peaceful, stress-free lifestyle.

  5. Fun and hands-on

  6. Simpler and rewarding way of life.


  1. BulletPhysical Characteristics

  2. Two kinds of Alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya) and Suri (pronounced surrey)

  3. Huacaya fiber is short, dense, crimpy and gives a woolly appearance

  4. Suri fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks

  5. Short and low set tail

  6. Have soft padded feet with two toes

  7. Do not have horns, hooves or claws, incisors, or upper teeth

  8. Eat grass and chew cud

  9. Adult alpacas generally weigh between 150 and 200 lbs.

  10. Average height is 36 inches at the withers

  11. Have three stomachs

  12. Adaptable to any climate


  1. BulletBehavior

  2. Alert, intelligent, curious, and predictable

  3. Social animals that seek companionship

  4. Communicate by softly humming

  5. Also communicate with neck posturing, ear and tail positioning and head tilt

  6. Deposit their odorless bean-like pellets in concentrated areas


  1. BulletMaintenance/Care

  2. Sheared without harm every 12 to 18 months

  3. Require minimal fencing. They can be pastured at 5-10 per acre

  4. Virtually disease-resistant animals

  5. Require annual vaccinations with tetanus and other locally appropriate vaccines

  6. Need routine parasite control

  7. Need occasional nail and/or teeth trimming


  1. BulletEnd Products ~ Fiber

  2. Main end-product is fiber

  3. In ancient times, alpaca fiber was known as the "Fiber of Gods"

  4. Soft as cashmere and lighter and warmer than wool

  5. Hypo-allergenic and contains no lanolin

  6. Comes in 22 natural colors


  1. BulletEarth-Friendly

  2. Padded feet.

  3. Converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently.

  4. Rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits and vegetables.

  5. Produces enough fleece each year to create several soft, warm sweaters for its owners comfort.


  1. BulletReproduction

  2. Average lifespan of an alpaca is about 20 years

  3. Gestation is 11.5 months.

  4. Female alpaca normally gives birth, without assistance, in the daylight hours

  5. Baby alpacas are called crias

  6. Have single births. Twins are extremely rare. Most recent figures note 1 in 2000 is a twin


  1. BulletHistory

  2. Members of the Camelid family (Vicuna, Guanaco, Llama and Alpaca) Native to Andean Mountain range of South America Primarily found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile Provided clothing and transportation to the Incas First imported in the United States in 1984 Domesticated for over 5,000 years

  3. Current figures note about 100,000 registered alpacas in North America


Alpaca owners enjoy a strong and active national organization. The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) with a growing number of Regional Affiliates and AOBA sanctioned national committees addressing every aspect of the industry.

The Alpaca Registry has been established to help ensure accurate records and has a state-of the-art system to document bloodlines. Alpacas must be blood typed in order to be registered. Virtually every alpaca in the U.S. is registered.



About Alpacas   Maintenance/Care   Characteristics    Fiber   Reproduction   Earth-Friendly   The Lifestyle    History   Etiquette
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ABOUT ALPACAS

   
          
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Debbie & Mark Emery
Glen Ellen, California
brookfarmalpacas@mac.com
Tel & Fax:  707.996.0350
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