Become one with your inner alpaca.
Step closer into the world of alpacas
The rare and exotic alpaca is a creature of antiquity that is rapidly gaining popularity around the world. Highly prized for their luxurious coats, the alpaca has been considered a treasure of the Andes Mountains for over 6,000 years.
Alpacas are New World camelids and look like small llamas or long-necked camels with no humps, especially when recently sheared. They have shaggy necks and camel-like faces with thick lips, pronounced noses, and long ears. Their large, expressive eyes seem to exhibit both wisdom and childlike curiousity.
Easily domesticated, alpacas are friendly, gentle and curious. Alpacas were exported from Peru in the mid-1980s and have become a premier livestock in Australia and abroad.
The hair of the alpaca is called ‘fleece’ or ‘fibre’ rather than ‘fur’ or ‘wool.’ Alpaca fleece has 22 natural shades ranging from black to silver and rose gray and white, from mahogany brown to light fawn and champagne. Alpacas can be bred for specific color, though trying to breed grey has left many alpaca breeders scratching their heads.
There are two types of alpacas, classified according to their fibre type:
- Huacaya (‘wah-KI-yah’) — dense, crimped, wooly, water-resistant fleece. Huacayas make up most of the alpacas in Australia.
- Suri (‘SUR-ree’) — very fine and lustrous fibre which grows parallel to the body in long, separate locks. Suris make up a very small percentage of Australian alpacas.
Unlike the llama, the fibre of the alpaca can be used for clothing. Alpaca fibre is softer than cashmere or angora, and warmer and lighter weight than wool, without the prickle-factor that some wool has. Since alpaca fleece has no lanolin, it is easier to process and is hypoallerginic.
|W = White
|MB = Medium Brown
|LRG = Light Rose Grey
|LF = Light Fawn
|DB = Dark Brown
|MSG = Medium Silver Grey
|MF = Medium Fawn
|BB = Bay Black
|MRG = Medium Rose Grey
|DF = Dark Fawn
|TB = True Black
|DSG = Dark Silver Grey
|LB = Light Brown
|LSG = Light Silver Grey
|DRG = Dark Rose Grey
Plus there are Spottys, Tuxedos and Fancies.
Alpacas are sheared annually, usually in the spring. The fibre may be sold and processed into rovings, spun into yarn, knitted or woven into fine fabrics. Each step adds more value to the product.
Like all animals, alpacas exhibit individual personality. They are herd animals, preferring the companionship of their friends and their established community, and will become stressed if separated from their mates.
Observe who is always first at the food bins, and who is last. Notice when a female is extra-friendly — she may have lost her pregnancy and is wanting to be re-bred. Some cria exhibit independence at an early age, others may be mamma’s kids, just like two-leggeds.
Gentle and curious, alpacas respond well to children. Junior Handling is becoming a popular event at most alpaca shows.
Alpacas: A brief history
Since ancient times, the South American Andes Mountains have been the ancestral home to the prized alpaca. Their fleece was cherished by members of the Incan civilisation (referred to as “The Fiber of the Gods”), and their graceful herds of alpaca roamed century, Spanish conquistadors killed a large part of both the Incan and alpaca populations, forcing the retreating survivors to seek refuge in the high mountain plains known as the Altiplano.
When the Spanish Conquistadors conquered the Inca Empire in the 17th century, the Indians sought refuge the heights of the Andes and took with them a limited number of these precious animals.
Consequently, alpacas escaped extinction, and they are now plentiful in wild herds at about 3.5 million strong. Indians of the Andes continue to shepherd them.
In Peru in the 1940’s, Don Julio Barreda purposefully began to breed alpacas toward better fibre and specific colour. He utilised better nutrition by fencing his herd and rotating pastures. By paying careful attention to genetics, he created distinct herds of both huacaya and suri alpacas, and culled out llama genes. Today he is recognised industry-wide as the world’s finest alpaca breeder. “Accoyo” alpacas are from the bloodline of his Peruvian herd.
The high altitude and harsh landscape ensured only the hardiest of these creatures survived, and these ancestors of today’s best bloodlines have provided a gene pool producing hardy, agile animals with dense, high quality fibre.
Peru, Bolivia, and Chile are still home to the largest percentage of alpacas in the world.
Get in touch
Our alpacas look forward to seeing you soon. To make an accommodation booking or to visit our farm, please call Brigitte on 0427 201 192. We’re only a phone call, sms or email away. 🙂