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High returns were promised with alpaca investment in raising and keeping alpacas, and many believed that they would make a lot of money in the process, without doing a proper alpaca business plan and thorough investigation. There is money in keeping alpacas for their lovely fiber, which is well-sought out, however, alpacas will not make you millionaires. What are Alpacas and what is the Difference between a Llama and an Alpaca? So what are alpacas and how are they different to llamas? Llamas are larger than alpacas, but despite their size, alpacas give more wool as their wool is fine and in a single layer, whereas the llama has a rough outer coat, and a fine undercoat that doesn’t yield as much wool. Llamas were bred as pack-animals and have never been bred for their fiber.
Because of their straighter backs they make good pack-animals, and the llama has curved ears and the alpaca has straight ears. The difference is in their fleece structure. Where the huacayas have dense, short fleece, the Suri’s fleece is a lot longer and silkier. So how to raise alpacas successfully if they are to fit into your homestead and farm? Alpacas are ideal animals for the small homestead.
There really is joy in keeping alpacas as they are an easy care livestock. They are hardy, generally disease-resistant and they thrive in every weather condition imaginable. They are good with children and therefore alpacas make excellent pets. They almost always give birth during daylight hours, and is a novel experience for the kids, and also less stressful for mom and dad! Because alpacas are such a gentle farm animal they are the ideal homestead animal to keep as a pet and the nice thing is that they last a lot longer than your budgie or hamster will – they live 15-25 years. Keeping Alpacas and Breeding Cycles Although a female alpaca can be bred after a year old, it is better to wait until it is 2-3 years old. It is fine to keep both males and females together.
Many alpaca births occur during the rainy season. They usually only have single births, which makes them more valuable and sought after and their pregnancies and deliveries are usually without complications. The adults grow to a height of 5 feet. If something happens to the mother, or she is unable to suckle her young, other female alpacas who have recently given birth will take on the cria and nurse it without complications. They are therefore excellent surrogate mothers. Their lovely fiber is light-weight, less greasy than sheep’s wool, and is know for its softness, luster and warmth. As a result alpaca knitting yarn is well sought after by knitters and the fiber is used by those interested in spinning yarn themselves.
Alpacas come in a range of colors which is ideal for those who want to use fiber that is natural and free from chemical dyes. In addition, they are eco-friendly with soft padded feet, not hooves, which has a low impact on the landscape. As alpacas are herd animals they need to have the company of other alpacas. Buying whethers is a cheaper option than buying breeding quality alpacas. Not only will alpacas protect your sheep, but they will also protect your chickens and ducks from foxes and wolves. Alpacas are very obliging in that they choose one place to relieve themselves and soon you have a manure heap of good, non-smelling, slow-releasing manure which is ideal for your vegetables, orchards and flower gardens. Alpaca Food and What to Feed Alpacas?
An acre of pasture will support 5-10 animals. They are both browsers and grazers so will also nibble on shrubs and bushes. Because they are economical in what they eat, alpaca food doesn’t cost anymore than it would to feed your average farm dog. How to raise alpacas successfully with few health problems when they first arrive onto your farm is to introduce any changes to the diet gradually over a period of a couple of weeks. This way the microbes in the gut have time to adjust to any feed changes.