March 25, 2009

Alpaca 101

Asking most alpaca farmers in North America if alpacas are used for meat is like asking someone the same question about their grandchild. It's frowned upon. Here's Greg looking at his first alpacas and yes, he did ask that question.
People are usually first attracted to alpacas because they are incredibly cute. They go into the business of alpaca farming for more practical financial reasons, but there is a very high cuteness factor with these critters. Alpacas are indigenous to South America and their fine fleece was once reserved for Incan royalty. Outside of zoos, they did not come to Canada until the early 1990's when it was quickly recognized that these domesticated creatures provide cashmere-like, soft, silky, warm and strong fleece that could be spun, felted, dyed and mixed with other fibres. They are members of the Camelid family (llamas, camels, vicunas, guanacos) and there are two species: the fluffy Huacaya and the elegant Suri. Adult alpacas weigh about 100 to 180 pounds and live 20 to 25 years. They are herd animals and easy to handle. Alpaca Canada's website ( is a great source of information about what is being done here with these wonderful animals. Alpacas have even been trained to be therapy/visiting animals for nursing homes, schools, etc. That will be Serena's job.

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