Explore the alpaca livestock industry with a visit to a farm or ranch during National Alpaca Farm Days, September 25-26. Sponsored by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA), the weekend is an invitation to visit their member farms and ranches in the United States and Canada.
From meeting these beautiful, inquisitive animals in person to experiencing luxurious alpaca products at individual farm stores, there will truly be something for everyone.
While most alpaca farms welcome visitors throughout the year, National Alpaca Farm Days are sure to include special activities and educational opportunities.
For a complete list of participating farms and ranches, visit the National Alpaca Farm Days website.
Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are beautiful, intelligent animals native to the Andean Mountain range of South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984, and more than 150,000 ARI (Alpaca Registry Inc.) registered alpacas now reside in North America.
Two types of alpacas call the United States home. Although almost physically identical, the two types of alpacas are distinguished by their fiber. The Huacaya (wa-Ki’-ah) is the more common of the two and has a fluffy, extremely fine coat. The Suri is the rarer of the two with silky fiber that resembles pencil-locks.
Adult alpacas stand approximately 36 inches at the withers and generally weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. Alpacas are alert, intelligent, curious and predictable. Social animals that seek companionship, they communicate most commonly by softly humming.
About Alpaca Fiber
Alpacas are shorn, without harm, every 12 to 18 months, producting five to 10 pounds of luxurious fiber. Long ago, alpaca fiber was reserved for royalty. Today, it is purchased in its raw fleece form by hand-spinners and fiber artists. Knitters buy it as yarn.
Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere. Making the fiber even more coveted is its luster, which resembles silk. Alpaca is just as warm as wool, yet 1/3 the weight. It comes in 22 natural colors, and can be dyed any shade.
Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation because alpaca fiber is smooth. Additional performance characteristics include: stretch, water repellency and odor reduction. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.
Headquartered in Nashville, the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) serves to facilitate the expansion of a sustainable alpaca industry through the growth and development of the national herd and its products. Since AOBA’s formation in 1988, its membership has grown steadily to more than 4,000 with more than 150,000 registered alpacas in North America.