My sister, Lisa, has some friends who own an Alpaca farm so we decided to go to their Open House last weekend. We got quite an education about these adorable animals and I want to share what I learned with you.
The Alpaca is a member of the camel (camelid) family. It’s very docile in nature and is known to be inquisitive. It’s been domesticated for thousands of years in South America but it’s only been in the last 30 years that they’ve called North America home.
You're tempted to reach out and pet their heads but it freaks them out because they can't see your hand. Instead you can pet their bodies or their necks.
She was so funny. She just wouldn't stop staring at me.
There are two different breeds: the huacaya (wah-KI-ya) and the suri (surrey). While physiologically the same, the main difference is in their fleece. The huacaya fleece is wavy and the suri fleece is straight. The fleece is sheared once a year and yields about five to ten pounds. The fleece requires minimal preparation before it’s ready to be spun into yarn.
The average Alpaca stands about 3 feet tall and weighs between 100 and 200 pounds. They eat about 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in hay per day, though some owners choose to supplement with additional grains. These sweeties were happy to supplement by eating out of our hands. And it tickled!
When we first walked up, we saw that there were about 12 in a fenced in enclosure and as we got further in, there were about 12 more in a separate area. We learned that they have to separate the boys from the girls or it would be like constant Jersey Shore smooshing without the alcohol.
Scratching her back like a dog
You'll notice that most are light in color but they do have one rare black Alpaca. I wish I would have gotten a clearer picture of her alone. You can see more of her here.
This photo helps to put their size in perspective.
THE softest teddy bear you ever felt!
Sad to watch the visitors leaving