Alpaca fiber is much finer and warmer than wool. It has no natural grease and does not need cleaning before being spun into yarn. Alpaca is available in different colors, so spinners can work with the natural colors available without adding dyes. Some characteristics of alpaca fleece include:
Natural fiber from animals
Soft, lightweight, and luxurious fiber
Can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned
Has little static
Can be dyed
Blends well with other fibers
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Alpacas are domesticated livestock that are farmed for their costly coats. They are South American camelids and are part of vicunas, llamas plus guanacos. Alpacas’ coats, that are sheared once per year, can be sold at high cost for use in clothing and in house materials. Alpaca fibers are better and hotter than wool, and they’re hypoallergenic as well.
Alpacas are from South America, and were formerly located in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and northern Chile. They are often compared to llamas, and for several years, alpacas were thought to have descended from llamas, since their appearances are similar. Some individuals believe these animals are the offspring of llamas and vicunas. However, in the year 2001, using DNA analysis, researchers proved that alpacas are more related to the Vicuna. To reflect that similarity, the original name for the alpaca was changed from musgo pacos to vicugna pacos.
Currently, there’s about 70, 000 alpaca in the USA. At first, the United States population was imported from South America. Today, alpaca are no longer imported, and the US alpaca population grows strictly from local births.
A full-grown alpaca has a life span of 15-20 years, weighs anywhere between 100 and 180 pounds, and stands around three ft tall. The alpaca diet contains grass, hay and oats. These animals are ruminants, that means that like cattle and deer, alpacas are cud-chewers.
Alpacas are gentle animals, however they can shriek or spit at you if they are anxious, worried or angry. They usually reserve this action for other alpacas, but occasionally, they will aim this behavior at humans. If you pay attention to an alpaca, you can tell how the animal feels, and can simply avoid a confrontation! Alpacas don’t like to be held, but a lot can tolerate pampering from humans they know and are comfortable with. These animals are naturally interested animals. They cannot jump fences and they can be halter-trained and led.
In a herd, these animals use a common dung heap. This helps reduce the incidence of disease among a herd. Because they’re particular about their bathroom practices, some alpacas have been house broken!
In the previous several years, a number of people have been considering raising alpacas for their wool, for showing and breeding. The gestation period for a single alpaca is around eleven months on average. Twin alpacas are extremely uncommon, occurring in only 1 of about every 10, 000 births. Most alpacas give birth to their newborns, called cria, in the morning.