Back in April at Breezy Hill we had shearing day! With our herd of about 40 alpacas, it was quite a project to get them all rounded up to the shearing shed and then trimmed up for summer. Fortunately, we had great shearers (from Shear Perfection Farm, in Windsor, PA), who do good work quickly, and some wonderful volunteers who helped with restraining the alpacas and collecting the fleece. Many hands make light work, or so they say.
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Alpacas are domesticated animals that are raised for their prized coats. These animals are South American camelids plus are related to vicunas, llamas plus guanacos. Alpacas’ coats, that are sheared once a single year, can be sold at high cost for use in clothing and household items. Alpaca fibres are both more powerful and hotter than wool, and they’re hypoallergenic as well.
Alpacas are native to South America, and were formerly found in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and northern Chile. They are often compared to llamas, and for many years, alpacas were thought to have originated from llamas, because their appearances is the same. Some people assume that these animals are the offspring of llamas and vicunas. However, in the year 2001, using DNA analysis, experts proved that alpacas are more closely related to the Vicuna. To reveal that similarity, the species name for the alpaca was changed from musgo pacos to vicugna pacos.
Currently, there’s about 70, 000 alpaca in the United States. Initially, the United States population was brought in from South America. Today, alpaca shall no longer be imported, and the US alpaca population grows strictly from local births.
A fully grown alpaca has a life span of fifteen years, weighs around 100 and 180 pounds, and stands about three feet tall. The alpaca diet contains grass, hay and oats. Alpaca are ruminants, that means that like cows and deer, they are cud-chewers.
Alpacas are gentle animals, nonetheless they may shriek or spit if they are anxious, worried or angry. Alpacas usually reserve this action for other alpacas, but occasionally, they will aim this behavior at people. In the event you pay attention to an alpaca, you can tell how the alpaca feels, and can certainly avoid a confrontation! Alpacas don’t like to be held, but most will tolerate petting from humans they know and are comfortable with. These animals are naturally inquisitive animals. They don’t jump fencing and they can be halter-trained and led.
In a herd, alpacas use a common dung heap. This helps reduce the incidence of disease in a herd. Because they are particular about their bathroom habits, some alpacas have been house broken!
In the past several years, a lot of individuals have been thinking about raising alpacas for their wool, for showing plus breeding. The gestation time for a single alpaca is around eleven months on average. Twin alpacas are incredibly rare, occurring in only 1 of about every 10, 000 births. Most alpacas give birth to their infants, called cria, in the morning.