Alpacas originated from South America, with the largest herds located in the high altitude regions of Southern Peru, Bolivia and Chile known as the Altiplano, and are part of the Camelid family, related to Camels and Llama.
In 1984, the United States and Canada imported their first alpacas, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 1989. The numbers of Alpacas in Australia have slowly increased to well over 130,000 animals, adapting well to our climatic conditions. With a life-span of 15 to 25 years, they are intelligent animals, and easily trained.
Alpacas are environmentally friendly animals, as their soft padded feet are gentle on the land and do not degrade the top soil encouraging weed growth, in comparison with larged hoofed animals like cattle.
Alpacas are pasture grazers with a very efficient conversion rate, they do well on a variety of high fibre grasses including native species. Have your soil tested either with a home pH soil kit, or by soil testing organisations, know your soil and its requirments before you add fertiliser, in turn reducing soil acidification and contaminating the waterways.
Alpacas are free from flystrike, however they are susceptible to pests and diseases like other animals and proper control measures must be implemented to maintain the health of the herd.
Alpacas are easy on fencing, but we advise the use of dog proof fencing for your outer perimeter, the added cost will be recouped with the saving of your valuable animals from attack from wild dogs or your neighbours seemingly friendly dog.
The Hembra is pregnant for approximately eleven and half months (the gestation period). The cria when born weighs approximately 5 to 9 kgs. Within 1 to 3 hours the cria is up and feeding from its mother which gently hums to the cria.
There are two main types of alpacas bred in Australia, the Huacaya and the Suri.
Alpaca fleece comes in 22 natural colours, white, fawn, brown, grey, black and fancy, appaloosa, with all the various shadings in between.
If you are interested in breeding Alpacas do your homework, check out all the information available and when purchasing alpacas, make sure they are registered with either the Australian Alpaca Association (AAA) or Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association (AABA).
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