alpaca

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do alpacas differ from llamas?
    • Alpacas are smaller than llamas and are bred for their fleece, while llamas are much bigger and are specifically bred for their packing and trekking capabilities.
  • How many kinds of alpaca are there?
    • There are two different types of alpacas — Huacaya (pronounced “wokaya”) and the Suri —with the differences between the two being predominantly fleece. Huacaya have shorter fibres that stand out perpendicular to the skin, giving them a teddy bear look, while Suri's grow long, shiny locks that curl into ringlets.
  • What do alpacas eat?
    • Alpacas have developed a highly efficient digestive system that allows them to live off quite poor grass. However, they do need a handful of chaff every day to make up for the difference in the grazing between their native lands and the UK. They also need hay everyday for roughage and in the winter we give them a supplementary feed of sugarbeet.
  • Why are alpacas so popular?
    • Alpacas are shy and quiet, easy to train and handle, and extremely intelligent. They rarely bite, spit or kick and have far less problems than other livestock such as sheep and cows.
  • Why is alpaca fibre so highly sought after?
    • Alpaca fibre is almost as strong as silk and highly durable. It's also soft, lightweight, lustrous and highly thermally efficient. When made into garments it doesn't pill or provoke any kind of skin reaction in people who are allergic to the lanolin or guard hairs in sheep's wool.
  • How many different coloured alpacas are there?
    • Alpaca fleeces have the greatest range of colours than any other animal used for fleece. There are least 22 colours ranging from true black through to pure white, and many different shades.
  • How do alpacas behave with children?
    • As long as an alpaca has been halter trained and handled regularly, it is quite happy to be around children, but they shouldn't become too boisterous or rough. Alpacas have even been known to get quite protective of these 'little alpacas' as they see them!
  • Can alpacas be kept as pets?
    • If you're looking for an animal to pet or cuddle don't buy an alpaca. As friendly as they can be, they prefer the company of other alpacas and are not substitutes for dogs or cats.
  • Should I buy a stud male?
    • Only buy a stud male if you intend to hire him out for stud services or have a large herd of females for him to mate with. Leaving an intact male in a paddock next to a couple of females and only letting him mate once or twice a year will result in an aggressive, frustrated male. It's far better to buy stud services as and when you need them (see our stud services)
  • Can alpacas be trained easily?
    • Because they are so intelligent, alpacas learn what you need them to know quite fast, including halter training, getting into and out of trailers and toe-nail trimming.
  • Do alpacas make a lot of noises?
    • When penned in with other alpacas you can hear them softly humming to one another but if they're startled or spot a predator they will let out a shrill call as a warning to the others. They also cluck if you annoy them and males produce a sound called orgling when they mate, which is supposed to make the females swoon!
  • How do they get on with other animals?
    • Alpacas will quite happily graze alongside sheep, horses or cows. They may even get used to a dog or two if you have them, although it's likely they'll be alarmed at any other dog that comes too close.
  • Do alpacas spit?
    • Alpacas are very sensitive to their surroundings and will only spit when they are under immense pressure. Spitting is also something that pregnant females do at males to warn them not to try anything frisky!
  • How much land do I need to keep alpacas?
    • Ideally you can keep up to eight alpacas per acre of reasonably-conditioned pasture land, but you will need more if you intend to breed so you can separate males and weaning cria from the females. You could have more per acre is you have enough space to rotate the alpacas on a regular basis to allow the land to recover. Alternatively, agistment services can be a considerable help if you lack the space (see agistment services)
  • How easy is it to transport alpacas?
    • You can move alpacas around in horse boxes or trailers — they don't get stressed, they just sit down and enjoy the ride!
  • Do Alpacas damage land?
    • Alpacas have soft padded feet so they don't damage pasture, even when it's very wet.
Garyeannna Alpacas