- Alpacas are a member of the South American Camelid family also including the lama, guanaco and vicuna. Only alpacas and lamas are domesticated as farm animals.
- There are two types of alpaca. Suri and Huacaya, huacaya is the most common.
- Their average life span is between 20 - 25 years.
- A female's gestation period is approx. 335 - 340 days. She will give birth to a single cria, twins are very seldom. A female can birth 15 or more cria in her lifetime.
- The average weight of an alpaca is 50 - 70 kilos, a newborn cria will weigh between 5 - 9 kilos.
- An alpaca is about one meter at the shoulder and 1.5 meters at full stance.
- Females can breed at 14 - 16 months.
- Males are usually sexually mature at 2 - 2 1/2 years.
- Crias are weaned at about 5 - 6 months, but the mother can already be bred 14 days after birth.
- Alpacas are accustomed to the cold weather in the Andes Mountains and enjoy being outdoors year round. However, a shelter for protection from extreme weather conditions and a dry space for a newborn is recommended.
- A pasture of about one decare is adequate for an alpaca. In addition to grazing they should have access to small amounts of hay all year round. They thrive on a low protein (maximum 14%) and high fiber diet.
- Supplemental feed is recommended in the latter stages of pregnancy and during lactation.
- Alpacas do not challenge fences, but must be protected from predators.
- Alpacas are farmed for their wool (fiber). Yearly shearing yields approx. 3 - 5 kilos, the quality of the fiber is measured in microns, the diameter of an individual fiber.
- Alpacas spit, but seldom at humans.
BreedingWell organized breeding is the future for alpaca success here in Norway. In every country that has had a positive growth in the alpaca industry, it has been through systematic breeding in order to produce the finest fiber and densest fleece for each animal.
Alpaca farming and the production of alpaca fiber is a relatively young industry worldwide apart from South America. In Norway we are in an early phase, with a small number of animals and the resulting amount of wool does not allow for large scale production yet.
If we shall be able to compete with import from other countries, our product must be as good, if not better, and the only way to accomplish this is through breeding, striving for the optimal fleece.
Since Norway is at this early stage, the potential of producing a competitive product with the rest of the world is an absolute reality, as long as we strive seriously and correctly.
Wool - FiberThe wonderful properties of alpaca wool is a result of its constitution, it is made up of hollow hair follicles. On our web pages we have used the term wool instead of hair.
Alpaca wool is probably the best wool obtainable. On a world basis, alpaca, mohair, angora and cashmere only constitute 2.6% of the wool market.
The potential for alpaca wool should be enormous, because of its many wonderful properties. It is many times stronger than sheep wool, it is much warmer, it does not itch, it does not nap, and apparel only becomes more beautiful with wear.
In comparison to sheep wool, alpaca wool does not contain lanolin, this is an irritant for people with sensitive skin, and therefore can be enjoyed by many with allergies. Since there is no lanolin, it does not absorb odours.
There are 22 natural colours of alpaca wool and up to 250 different shades.
Alpaca wool has several classifications according to its fineness. They are: Royal Alpaca (19 micron), Baby alpaca (22.5 micron), Alpaca Super Fine (25.5 micron) and Thick fiber (32 micron). Products are priced according to its classification.
Alpaca fiber is very versatile and can be used in the same product line as sheep wool.