Alpacas Are Your All-Around Animals


Country MoonAlpaca1


I have noticed lately that there are more and more alpacas on farms across the countryside. I know they are cute (have you ever seen an alpaca’s face?) but what is the rest of the draw that makes these critters so popular? I soon found out a number of things that make these docile animals family favorites.

Alpacas resemble small llamas in appearance and are the domesticated species of the South American camelid. They are bred specifically for their fiber and not for beasts of burden like llamas are. There are basically two breeds, Suri alpacas and Huacaya alpacas. The fiber of Suris grows quite long and forms silky, pencil-like locks whereas Huacaya fiber is shorter and is a more dense, crimpy fleece which gives it a woolly appearance.

Alpaca fleece is a lustrous and silky natural fiber. It is somewhat like hair, being very glossy. Unlike sheep wool, it is warmer, not as prickly and bears no lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic, a quality much in demand for those that suffer skin allergies. The fiber is used for making knitted and woven items similar to those made from wool. Alpaca fleece finds its way into blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves and a wide variety of other textiles. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors, with 16 being classified in the United States.

As an added plus, alpaca fiber is naturally flame-resistant. The carding, spinning and weaving is done much like the process for sheep wool. They are usually sheared once a year, typically in the spring. Each shearing, or cutting of the fiber, usually produces 5 to 10 pounds of fiber per alpaca. Just like most things, the fiber is graded according to quality. An adult alpaca might produce 50 to 90 ounces of first-quality fiber and 50 to 100 ounces of second and third quality.

1/17/2016 11:26:04 AM

I highly recommend taking the plunge!! Let me know when you're ready: :-)

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