Introduction to Alpaca
Alpaca are a domesticated species of the Camelid and originate from the Altiplano area of South America. They are closely related to the Llama and the wild species of Vicuña and Guanaco.
Alpacas are ideally suited to both the lifestyle block or as an alternative enterprise on a larger property.
The easy care nature of Alpaca makes them perfect for busy people who want to enjoy their animals. Compared with other livestock, Alpaca are low maintenance requiring very little in the way of drenching, vaccinating, or special feed.
They are primarily farmed for their fibre and there is a huge potential for the future. With increasing demand for natural sustainable products that have been ethically farmed and the luxurious qualities of Alpaca fibre, New Zealand Alpaca farmers have great opportunities ahead of us.
Alpacas are grass eaters and are an easy care alternative to traditional livestock. An alpaca will eat about the same amount as a sheep. Alpacas can make great pets and provide hours of fun and enjoyment for their owners. They can be used for therapy and relaxation or you can get competitive in the many shows around New Zealand.
Owning Alpaca has changed many people's lives - making new friends, developing new hobbies, interests and skills.
They have a luxurious soft warm fleece that can be made into spa range of products from duvets to high end garments.
Alpacas are here to stay and the market has been reasonably stable, making Alpaca a viable income stream for a small block. While most breeders have a primary income off farm there are still many who successfully farm Alpaca as a full time job.
There are 2 types of Alpaca. The very rare Suri and the less rare Huacaya, of which there are about 22 different colours.
Huacaya: (pronounced Wah-ky-ya) make up 90% of the Alpaca in New Zealand. They are characterised by a thick dense fleece growing perpendicular to the body, similar to merino wool. Good Huacaya fibre has a soft handle, brightness and defined crimp throughout the blanket area.
Suri: (pronounced soo-ree) is distinguished by its long silky fibre that grows parallel to the body and hangs in distinctive locks. It's silkiness and exquisite lustre ensures premium price on the world fibre market. The world population of Suri is estimated at 3% of the Alpaca population, however in New Zealand Suri make up 10%.