Originating on the high Andean plateau, this small, elegant domestic camelid, weighs about sixty kg and is approximately 90 cm tall, it can live around 20 years. It acclimatizes easily and is adaptable, rustic and sober, having a developed gregarious instinct, it needs the company of its own species. It eats mainly grass and hay. The female has a gestation period of almost one year after which she gives birth to a single offspring called a ‘cria’. Alpaca farming is developing quickly in France and Europe and is increasing by around 15% per year.
Work by camelid specialist Dr Jane Wheeler on alpaca DNA has proven that alpacas evolved from the domestication of the vicuna. In South America the alpaca numbers, three million in Peru, 300,000 in Bolivia and 30,000 in Chile. The majority of them are not genetically pure having been crossed with llamas at a previous time. It is important to preserve and increase the numbers of genetically pure alpacas.
Breeders produce animals for reproduction, showing and as pets, alpacas can produce from between two to six kilos of wool per annum. Selective breeding can considerably improve both the quantity and quality of the wool making it finer, increasing its lustre, softness and elastic “crimp” properties. The wool is naturally allergen free and fire resistant.
The alpaca is an extraordinary animal; it is gentle, sociable and intelligent and enjoys a peaceful and harmonious relationship with humans. It is easy to train and safe to handle by anyone, we frequently see very young children leading alpacas at agility shows. The introductory days proposed by our association can help you become accustomed to handling them. The alpaca is also environmentally friendly, in that he has soft padded feet which do not turn up fields like other grazing stock, and thanks to its 22 natural colours, there is no necessity to dye the wool.
Besides having alpacas as a business, a few pet animals can quickly become a passionate hobby proving to be a lucrative way of providing additional income to supplement a wage or pension. There is also the added bonus of providing soft, warm fleece for making clothing, duvets and blankets.
Prices start at around 1000€ for a pet male and 3000€ for females, with higher quality breeding and show stockmuch more expensive. When elite alpacas come up for sale, the biddings can reach considerable sums, if you are lucky enough to have such an alpaca born on your premises, you may get much more than a simple complement to your wages or pensions! To have a chance of this you must select your breeding stock very carefully..