John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Physical Characteristics

Alpacas are unique in appearance and have several traits shared only with their camelid cousins,  There are relatively small, long lived, and easy to care for and manage.

Life span...15 - 25 years

Height... 32 - 39" at the shoulder

Weight...125 to 200 lbs.

Gestation...about 340 days (average)

Birth... A single baby, called "cria" is normally delivered without assistance during the daylight hours. Twins are rare, occurring once in about every 2,000 births.

Babies... Crias weigh 15 to 20 lbs. at birth and can usually stand to nurse within the hour. They are weaned at 5 - 6 months after which they are called "tuis" until they reach breeding age.

Reproduction... Female alpacas are first bred from 14 - 18 months at which time they are called "hembras". Female alpacas are induced ovulators. They do not have a heat cycle so they can be bred anytime. They are capable of producing one offspring a year for as many as 20 years. The new alpaca mothers are often rebred 2-3 weeks after giving birth. Male alpacas reach breeding age at about 3 years, at which time they are called "machos".

Fiber...Alpaca fiber is softer than merino and has a higher tensile strength than sheep’s wool, creating a far more durable garment. There is a lucrative niche market for this luxurious, resilient fiber both at the local level and on the international export scene.

Color... Alpacas come in a myriad of natural colors: pure white, the most delicate fawns through to grey tones, from the lightest silver to a warm rose grey, and a true jet black. There are 22 recognized alpaca colors and the fleece also has the additional advantage of being readily dyed.

Health... Because alpacas and their ancestors are specially suited to the harsh environment of their Andean homeland, alpacas are generally healthy, easy to care for and remarkably disease free.

 
Alpaca Sales

"Manufactures from their hair more resemble silk than woolen stuffs, and some of those made of the Alpaca fleece, are quite black, without having been dyed. It has been a matter of surprise to many, that they are not naturalized in this country, as the climate would not be an obstacle to success. The demand, however, for their produce so much, increases, that it is very probable they may at some future time become denizens of our mountainous districts..."

R. Lee
Anecdotes of the Habits and Instinct of Animals (1852)
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