What is an Alpaca?

Alpaca’s are related to the camel and llama. They are a native of the Andes Mountains in South America.  Today the largest herds in the world still roam Peru, Chile and Bolivia. They were first imported to North America in 1984 by a small group of breeders.  Since that time the North American herd has grown to a little over 100,000.

Why did Alpaca’s become native to the Andes Mountains? 

Spanish conquistadors killed a large part of the alpaca herds during their 17th century invasion of South America, the remaining herds’ seeked refuge in the Altiplano, which are the high mountain plains located in the Andes.  The descendents we see today are from these very survivors.  The harsh environment that they lived in for several centuries has helped create an animal with very dense, very warm fiber.

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Tells us about their fleece.

Alpaca fleece is softer than cashmere and warmer
and lighter than wool.  Many exclusive fashion houses
use Alpaca fiber in their designs.  In fact, the Incan
civilization reserved the use of alpaca fiber for only
the royal family, hence the term “the Fiber of the Gods”. 
Their fleece has 22 recognized natural colors and can
also be dyed every color of the rainbow.

What is an Alpaca?

An alpaca is a member of the camelid family.  Camels, llamas and the rare vicunas are also members of this family as well.  Alpaca’s have 3 stomachs which allows them to chew their cud.  This aids in the digestion and enables them to make the most out of the nutritional content of the food they eat.  They don’t have front teeth on their upper jaw so they don’t bite, however they will grab your shirt if you turn your back to try and encourage you to play.  As you can see from the pictures on our website, alpaca’s are not large, with the average standing about 36 inches from the withers.  Their weight ranges anywhere from 15lbs at birth to 185lbs in heavy pregnancy. An alpaca’s life span is about 15 -20 years.

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Are there types of Alpacas?

Yes, there are two types: Suri, which has fiber that grows into long, silky, pencil-like locks and the huacaya, which has a shorter, dense, crimpy fleece giving it a very woolly appearance similar to a teddy bear!  At Whitestone Farm we focus our breeding program on the huacaya.

How do you maintain an Alpaca?

Their requirements are simple.  They are happiest when outdoors. Run in sheds work best rather than closed in barns with the traditional horse stall configuration. A small pasture with grasses and free choice hay should be provided.  At Whitestone Farm we also feed a small amount of grain to each alpaca along with free-choice minerals.  Most Alpaca farms are less than 10 acres in size.  You can comfortably raise about 5 alpacas per acre.  Their health maintenance is quite simple.  Except for their yearly vaccinations given by a vet, they are wormed once a month, and toe nails trimmed as needed.  Our herd size is just under 20 and it takes my 14 year old son and me about 1 to 1 ½ hours to perform our monthly herd health day task.

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What is it like raising Alpacas?

One frequently sees the word “lifestyle” associated
with raising alpacas and it’s true!  Raising alpacas
is a lifestyle choice.  We choose to raise alpacas
because of their advantages. They are a perfect
animal to raise with small children, a great tax
investment and savings, and their needs allow
us to de-stress.  Alpaca owners are varied ranging
from empty nesters, professionals to young families. 
It is not uncommon to see people choose alpaca
farming as a second career choice, with many
starting their herds and agisting (boarding)
their animals at farms for several years
before moving their animals to their home.

What is ARI?

The Alpaca Registry, Inc (ARI) oversees the registration of Alpacas in this country.  All animals that are registered are fully blood-typed.  The registry closed in 1998 to any imported animals.  If you are investing in Alpacas it is extremely important that you only purchase ARI registered animals.  You cannot register alpacas unless both parents are currently registered with ARI.

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Whitestone Farm - Alpacas

 

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Whitestone Farm
10413 Elys Ford Rd
Fredericksburg, VA

540-786-9124
fax:540-786-9123

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