John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpacas - FAQ's

Alpacas were treasured by the Inca civilization, their fine fleeces reserved for Incan royalty. Alpacas provided clothing, food, transport, fuel and companionship. Alpacas were close to annihilation after the Spanish conquest of the Inca. That they survived was due to their importance to the Indian people, and to the alpacas’ ability to tolerate harsh climatic conditions.

How many kinds of alpacas are there?

There are two generally accepted types of alpacas. The ‘Huacaya’ alpaca is the most common alpaca type. It has a soft bonnet of fleece on the forehead and the dense body wool grows straight out from the body. The ‘Suri’ alpaca is less common and is covered in long, pencil fine locks which hang straight down from the body.

How is alpaca fiber harvested?

Alpacas are generally shorn annually. The best alpaca fleece comes from the blanket (back, side shoulder and rump). The first baby clip commands a premium because of its extra fineness. Alpaca shearing is done with conventional sheep-shearing equipment or hand shears.

What are alpacas' personalities like?

As a rule alpacas are gentle and easy to handle. Alpacas can be moved around the farm with ease, and are easily trained to a halter. Alpacas can be easily transported long distances in vans, trailers or trucks. Alpacas rarely kick or spit unless extremely provoked. Being affectionate animals, alpacas are safe and calm around children.

What is required to feed alpacas?

Alpacas are modified ruminants. They chew cud like a cow. Alpacas like to graze on grass and browse on weeds, leaves and shrubs. Alpacas may need free-choice mineral salt. Supplementary feed may be required in winter and to females in the later stages of pregnancy.

What other care do alpacas need?

Alpacas require little care other than toe-nail trimming, annual inoculations, and worming two or three times a year. Fences should be dog proof and 4 to 5 feet high. Three sided shelters are all that are required in moderate climates.

Do alpacas spit?

Spitting is the alpaca way of saying "Bug Off", to let a male know his amorous attentions are not wanted, to ward off a perceived threat, or to establish pecking order while feeding.

What sounds do alpacas make?

Alpacas communicate with a series of ear, body and tail postures. Females make soft humming sounds to their cria. Alpacas also can emit a shrill alarm sound. Alpacas may occasionally cluck with their tongue. Male alpacas make a unique sound, called orgling, when they mate.

Are alpacas intelligent?

Alpacas are very intelligent and easy to train. In just a few repetitions they will pick up and retain many behaviors such as accepting a halter, being led, lifting a foot for toe-nail trimming and loading in or out of a vehicle.

What are alpacas used for?

Uses include breeding stock, fiber production, companion animals and pet therapy.

Why are alpacas so popular?

Alpacas are one of the easiest to care for of all livestock. Alpacas are clean (they share a communal dung pile), quiet, odor free, and possess a gorgeous, highly desired fleece.

 
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"Moreover, he let his goatee grow until it resembled the tail-feathers of an ancient sparrow and substituted for a once dapper business suit a reverence-inspiring affair of shiny alpaca..."

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tales of the Jazz Age
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