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What are Alpacas Used For?

Alpacas are shorn for their valuable fleeces.  Their compact size contributes to easy management and to desirability as a companion animal.  Alpacas easily learn to walk on a lead, jump in and out of vehicles, cush (sit down), and obey other simple commands.  No other fiber-producing animal (for textile use) has such an enormous variety of colors.  


What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?

Llamas typically weigh between 200-350lbs, are bred as pack  animals and sometimes are used as guard animals for smaller livestock.  They have longer faces and ears, have courser fiber, and stand considerably taller than Alpacas.

Alpacas weigh in closer to 120-180lbs, are bred for their fiber which manifests in 22 different natural colors, are typically more skittish in nature and require the protection of guard animals or proper fencing.

alpacas eat

What do Alpacas eat?

Alpacas are modified ruminants.  They rank high in digestive efficiency and do well on good quality forage and hays.  Occasional supplemental feeds, vitamins, and minerals are provided when required.  An alpaca costs far less to feed than most traditional domestic animals.


Do they have personalities? What is their temperament?

Alpacas are alert, curious, calm and predictable.  Like humans they exhibit a range in personality, from social and sweet to reserved and standoffish.  They need the companionship of other camelids, and will huddle together or move en masse when frightened or wary.


Do they spit?

Alpacas will spit their cud in some instances.  Spitting is perceived by humans to be a sign of aggression towards us, but when it happens, its for a far more mundane reason. While Alpacas will spit at humans if they feel threatened, its much more likely due to the fact that they feel like their food source will be interrupted or restricted.  Alpacas typically spit at each other when asserting dominance over each other at meal times. 


How do they communicate?

Alpacas express themselves with a soft hum, with other vocalizations, and with body language, such as neck posturing, ear and tail positioning, and head tilt. They have excellent eyesight and hearing, and will alert the herd and their human keepers with a staccato alarm call of perceived danger. Alpacas rarely spit at people unless frightened or abused, but will use this form of communication with each other to register a complaint or compete for food.


Is there a central registry?

Approximately 95% of Alpacas in the US are registered via an online registry housed in the Alpaca Owners Association, Inc.  DNA technology verifies lineages. AOA documents the pedigrees of registered animals and helps assure the perpetuation of the alpaca as a unique species in North America. The registry requires blood typing of all alpacas and has received widespread support from the alpaca community as evidenced by the inclusion of at least 95% of the North American alpaca population in the registry at the time it officially closed (March 30, 1989). With the closing of the registry, only animals that qualify by blood typing as the offspring of registered alpacas are automatically eligible for registration.  Access to the registry is one of the many benefits of joining the industry’s trade group, The Alpaca Owners Association, Inc.  More information can be found HERE.


How much does one cost?

This depends on what you want to use them for.  Maidens, Proven Females, Stud Males or Pet Boys- the range in pricing is wide-from $1000 to $20,000+.  Also- don't forget to factor in that you will need to purchase a minimum of two animals, if there is not already a suitable companion animal at home.

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