The alpaca….This great Unknown…
Bringing of the Alpacas into the region…
Alpacas are typical from the wet Puna in Bolivia, Perú and Chile.Today, due to their exportation you can find them spread all around the world (The United States, Europe, New Zealand…) there are two different types of alpacas:The Suri Alpacas and the Huacaya Alpacas.
Photo: Suri Alpaca
It is believed that when the Spanish Conquerors arrived in Perú and entered Cuzco ( the Inca capital of the Empire) triumphally plundering its historical treasures like the pure gold planks from the Sun Temple and filled their knapsacks with silver statues they didn´t realize at that time of the most important Inca treasure: the unusual and luxury Alpaca´s fibre, which formed the founding of the Inca treasure. Among Los Andes inhabitants this cloth was used as a exchange currency and the Inca emperors rewarded the fidelity of their nobility giving them away this soft fabrics made by skilled weavers. The alpaca is indeed an ancestral legacy which makes them feel very proud and the rest of the world population feels grateful for the gift granted: La Alpaca .
Photo: Huacaya Alpaca
La Alpaca is one of the four South American camelids (vicuña, guanaco y llama). This animals like the Llamas are species adapted by domestication to live with the humankind, however, we don´t know when the breed sprang up. It is only known that it was before the Spaniards arrived to the American continent and even before the Inca Empire, too! The Llamas were used in the transportation of goods whereas the Alpacas were breed for their high quality fleece.
Photo: Alpaca in Perú
What does an Alpaca look like?
Their figure is smaller and curver than the Llamas one and over their forehead they have a typical fringe of fibre, but they can´t be cathegorized by their colour as there is a wide range of tones and colours although the experts consider about a broad spectrum of 22 natural colours going from brown, black, white and gray. Their fibre can be used either in their natural colour or can be dyed way.
Their weight is between 50 and 75 kilo mark and they can reach up to 100cm. high, exceeding in a slight way the vicuña´s height. They are selected by their fibre quality production, whose diameter can range from 12 up to 35 microns.
Their feet are provided with pads (hoof padded feet) and two toenails so they don´t harm the grounds even in those fragile and arid zones where they graze, unlike the cows, horses and sheep.
They have leporine lips (open) consequently they make the best use of the fodder.They don´t pull the grass by its roots so therefore they are environmental friendly animals. Their incisors are constantly growing like those of the rodent animals and because of this they are known to be long lived animals and can live up to 20 years or more.
They are very resilient animals and they don´t get sick easily.
Now we will show you the differences with the Llama so that you can see and compare each specie.
Foto:DDifferences between Llama & Alpaca
Foto: Sequin a Huacaya Alpaca
Here is Sequin-our Huacaya Alpaca- which arrived with the others from France.She is six years old and in October, she will give birth again.
They are grazers with highly efficient digestive system and they can eat grass and hay and their digestive apparatus has a three-chambered stomach so that they are considered “modified rumiants”.
Living in the pastures is all for these animals that love being outside. They also love being breeded in a clean environment and for smarting their skin and fleece up they like rolling over to get rid of the dirt of their coats and skin.
The Alpacas are very sturdy and resillent and they are used to extreme weather conditions.In their original habitat they are exposed to temperatures ranging from about 30º at day to zero at night time in the same day. Thit is one of the reasons for which why they can get used to our climate.
They are kind hearted, cheerful, intelligent, inquisitive, tender, easy-going and sociable animals and children have a lot of fun with them. However, they are very brave animals and are able to refuse wild dogs or fox attacks by bending their heads as a warning signal and if the opponent doesn´t run away they finally kick them.It is strange but in other countries they are considered protective animals for flocks or herds.
From health point of view they decide to defecate all together at the same time and normally in a place located outside of their living area in order to avoid the spreading of parasite.
They live in herds formed by a dominant male, the females and their crias while the rest of males make their own herd away.
They are prone to spit like the rest of the camelids when they are feeling threatened however, the alpacas spit to each -so it is better you are not near.
Communication wise, they use their body language and a kind of humming or buzzing noise made of many different tones,volume and repetitions but their most distinctive noise is a delightful musical tone.
The Alpaca is known to have been used as a theraphy animal for disable patients. To sum up, The Alpaca is an extraordinary animal domesticated in order to live with humans in harmony
The alpacas live about 20 years and are fertile until they are 14 years old. After about 11 and half months the females give birth only one cria (rarely two). They commonly give birth in the mornings and the cria is born with a very short fleece and approximately 7 kg of weight and after half hour it is born it is able to stand up on its legs.
They are sheared once a year producing between 3 to 6 kilo of an non fat or lanoline fleece.Their fibre is considered one of the finest fleece in the world and; it is more flexible and stronger, straighter and silkier than the sheep´s wool. The Alpacas´ fleece is even seven times warmer than sheep´s wool and three times stronger, too. All the qualities mentioned above make this fleece the perfect material to create good quality ornaments and cloths. As well as that, the Alpacas´fleece is very smooth to the touch and can absorb between 10% – 15% of environmental humidity. This wool contains microscopic air bags which make their fibre very light and warm at the same time, perfect for sport clothes.
Photos: Alpaca’s Fiber.