Alpacas And Llamas
= Bactrian Camels, Dromedary Camels, Guanacos, Llamas, Vicuñas and Alpacas.
Lama = South American Camelids: Alpaca
Guanaco; Llama; and Vicuña.
A Vicuña "Chaccu" (roundup) for shearing in Peru,
showing high altitude grass: ichu.
Before the Peruvian Government set aside game preserves and initiated the yearly roundup and shearing process (which had been a native tradition prior to the Spanish Conquest) in the early 1990s, the wild Vicuña had become an "endangered species", due to slaughtering the animals for profit from selling the hides. Today the exquisitely soft, luxurious cloth of Vicuña is available for sale in Peru. The Vicuña fleece is intermixed with slightly coarser guard hairs, but the wonderfully fine fiber is usually under 18 microns, and it only grows 1 1/2 to 2 inches a year, so they are shorn every-other-year during the "Chaccu". Due to the small amount harvested each year, the price remains very high.
Guanacos are mostly found in Patagonia. These wild animals of South America are the ancestors of the modern-day Llama.
Two Alpaca Fleece Types:
Very crimpy (small waves) fleece, mostly hollow
and stands horizontally on the alpaca's body with incredible insulating qualities-very warm and cuddly;
"The Teddy Bear Type"
Non-crimpy, silky, lustrous fleece that hangs straight downward and twists into "dreadlocks". Suri fleece has very little or no insulating qualities-the shorn fleece feels cool and is very heavy for the small volume produced compared to the huacaya fleece.
These animals appear thinner, the fleece parts along the backbone, the suris have long straight "bangs" over their eyes and the fleece ripples and sways in a breeze. The clothing made from suri carries the luster (shine) and it drapes and hugs a body magnificently.
Both alpaca types come in an array of about 24 natural colors; ranging from white, beige and thru a number of shades of fawn, shades of red-brown, true dark brown, gray and black and combinations and mixes of these colors; both solidly colored and pinto, piebald and spotted.
Longevity: 15 to 20 years
Mature Age: Both sexes fully mature at 2 ½ to 3 years. Females in the US are usually bred at about 18
months. Males are not generally creating viable sperm until the canines (fighting
teeth) erupt. Breeding causes hormonal changes in both sexes that stop the bone growth.
Cria one only, twins are very rare and generally not desirable. They usually
start eating hay at about a week. Most are
weaned at about 6 months.
Gestation: A lpaca norms = 335 to 345 days.
lpaca norms = 335 to 345 days.
Llama norms = 349 to 359 days. Both Alpacas & Llamas have had gestations over
Birth Weight: Alpacas = 15 to 20 pounds
20 to 25 pounds
weight = 300 to 450 pounds
height = 48 to 52 at the rump
Adult Alpacas weight = 125 to 175 pounds
height = 35 to 40 at the rump
Production: 5 to 10 pounds of prime fiber, and another 3 to 5
pounds of coarser fiber per year. The prime
is made into garments; the coarser fiber is useful for rugs, mats and ropes.
better than other livestock with proper hygiene, vaccinations and routine parasite
control. The Lamas use of communal dung piles naturally provide
cleaner feed areas than other livestock since lamas will not feed where they have dropped
In soft soil areas
routine toe-nail trimming is needed.
Checking for, and cutting or removing
male fighting teeth (the canines) as needed to avoid the torn ears or testicles!
trimming of incisors is needed.
Shearing is the most
important job in most parts of the United
States. Due to our rather warm summers we must be alert for symptoms of heat stress.
A great deal of information on Alpaca & Llama (Camelid) health and husbandry can be found at: www.rmla.com/Health.htm
Also check out: www.rmla.com/wool_basics.htm
for interesting facts, research and uses for this exquisite fiber from these wonderful animals.
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