Remarkable personality traits.
Alpacas are like people and display individual characteristics.
They are curious and alert. Intelligent and trainable (like a dog). Friendly…well not all of them! But some of them will always be ready for a treat and they will eat in your hand and allow petting.
Alpacas are calm by nature but also easily scarred by loud noises and running kids. Best way to approach them: sit down and wait for them to come and kiss your nose !
They are agile and graceful: watch the crias pronk in the pasture early in the morning and at dusk! It is a beautiful and entertaining show!
Beyond their charming, quirky good looks, these creatures are extremely clean to the point that they share a bathroom!
Alpacas are related to llamas, which are domesticated versions of another wild Andean ruminant, the guanaco. While llamas are used as pack animals, alpacas are raised mainly for their soft fiber.
Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. Occasionally they do so. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will occasionally spit at a human.
Humming is the most common sound that alpacas make. Alpacas hum when they are curious, content, worried, bored, fearful, distressed or cautious. When startled or in danger, a staccato braying is started by one animal, then followed by the rest of the herd in the direction of the potential threat.
Native habitat is the Andes Mountains of South America (Chile, Bolivia and Peru) but alpacas are now found from Alaska to Australia. They are well suited to colder climates as they have the best winter coat possible. No need to heat the barn, they sit outside at -20 oC in the snow. Despite that, alpaca farms are also found in warmer climates like Florida and California
Alpacas have a life span of 15-20 years. After a gestation period of 11-1/2 months, the baby alpaca (cria) will be born. Females reach their breeding capability by 18-24 months while males will typically reach sexual maturity at 24 months of more.
Alpacas are shorn in May in most of Southern Canada. It can get very hot under this amazing winter coat when Spring comes. The fans are on in the barn until the shearer’s expected arrival as animals can get sick with heat stress. Pregnancies can also be lost if animals are not kept cool during this transition period. We take advantage of shearing day to trim teeth (when necessary), cut toe nails and vaccinate the herd.
Baby alpacas are called crias. They are generally born between May and September as we typically breed for this period to minimize the risks of births happening in colder weather. In southern areas, alpacas are bred all year round. Crias generally weigh between 6-10 kg at birth and can stand and nurse within 2 hours. They are usually weaned at 5-6 months. Twins are rare, approximately 1/1000 and rarely survive.