Gideon's Fleece Alpaca Ranch

(aka the funny farm)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an alpaca?
Why are they becoming popular?
What kinds of alpacas are there?
How long is an alpacas life span?
What does an alpaca eat?

Q: What is an alpaca?
A: Alpacas are members of the camel family, along with llamas, vicunas, and guanacos. Adult alpacas stand approximately 3 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 100 - 175 pounds.

Q: Why are alpacas becoming so popular?
A: Unlike most other types of livestock, alpacas can be profitable without going to the slaughterhouse. Alpacas are considered to be the aristocrat of all farm animals, providing a fiber that is sought by the textile industry world wide for its warmth and softness. Alpacas are shorn once a year yielding 5-10 pounds of exquisite fleece. The fiber, virtually grease-free, can be handspun directly off of the animal.

Q: Are there different kinds of alpacas?
A: There are two breeds of alpacas: huacaya and suri. Their fiber type is the distinguishing factor. The huacaya is much more common, having a very crimpy fleece that gives them a fluffy appearance. The rare suri has a silky hairlike fiber which drapes down in tight spirals and locks. About 90% of the world's alpaca population is Huacaya and 10% is Suri.

Q: What is an alpaca's life cycle?
A: The baby alpaca is known as a cria and the weaned crias are known as weanlings or tuis. Alpacas produce just one cria per year. Adult males are called machos and adult females are called hembras in Spanish. An alpaca's average lifespan is 15-20 years.

Q: What's an alpaca's diet?
A: Alpacas need to eat 1-2% of body weight per day, so about two 60 lb (27 kg) bales of grass hay per month per animal. When formulating a proper diet for alpacas, water and hay analysis should be performed to determine the proper vitamin and mineral supplementation program. Two options are to provide free choice salt/mineral powder, or feed a specially formulated ration.

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