A Few Basic Facts

• Alpacas are members of the camelid (or camel) family.  They are mild-tempered, gregarious animals with an inquisitive nature and a penchant for bringing great delight to their owners.

• There are two different breed-types; the huacaya (wah-KI-ya) and suri ("surrey").  Although both types of alpacas are physiologically nearly identical, one main physical difference is clearly identifiable: the fleece.  Huacaya fleece has a degree of "waviness", or "crimp", thus giving huacayas a fluffy, "Teddy Bear-like" appearance. Surris, on the other hand, have no crimp in their fleeces, so their fiber clings to itself, forming beautiful "pencil locks" that hang down from the body in gentle, silky cascades.

• Indigenous to South America, the alpaca is raised for its soft fleece.  This fleece is sheared once a year, yielding roughly five to ten pounds (~2 1/4 to 4 1/2 kilos).  After only minimal preparation, it is ready to be spun into yarn (for kitting, crocheting, and weaving) or used to make felt (for creating hats, cloth, or moccasins).

• Alpacas stand approximately 36 inches (~1 meter) tall at the withers (the area where the neck and spine come together) and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds (~45 to 90 kilos).

• They require only modest amounts of food (approximately 1 1/2 to 2% of thier body weight in hay per day), plus free access to fresh water and free-choice minerals. Some owners also supplement their animals' diets with additional grains and crumbles, based on specific nutritional needs and preferences.