Alpacas are a domesticated member of the camel (camelid) family. The camelid family also includes llamas, guanacos, and vicunas from South America, and the Bactrian and Dromedary camels from Asia and Africa.Alpacas are popular internationally for their luxury fibre and as pet, show, and investment animals in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Germany, France, and Israel, as well as the United States and now in the Far East.The two coat or breed types are the huacaya and the suri. Ninety percent of alpacas are huacaya, with full, puffy fleeces whose crimp or curvature is in the individual fibers. The lustrous, straight fiber of the suri fleece hangs down, giving the suri alpaca an entirely different appearance. Fibers of both types are considered luxury fibers in the textile trade because of their unique qualities. ·Alpacas come in 22 natural colors, 12 of which are registered in South Africa.
Alpacas do not require special fencing or a lot of acreage (5 to 8 animals/acre or 15/hectare). Alpacas are very social animals and communicate to each other with humming noises, body and head movements.
The alpaca's feet are padded and leave even the most delicate terrain undamaged as it browses on native grasses.
The alpaca is a modified ruminant with a three- compartment stomach. It converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.
Its camelid ancestry allows the alpaca to thrive without consuming very much water, although an abundant, fresh water supply is necessary.
A herd of alpacas consolidates its feces in one or two spots in the pasture, thereby controlling the spread of parasites, and making it easy to collect and compost for fertilizer.
An alpaca produces enough fleece each year to create several soft, warm sweaters for its owner's comfort.
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