Alpaca Facts

There are two types of alpaca... Huacaya (wha-ki-a) and Suri. The Huacaya is "fuzzy" and often looks like a teddy bear. The Suri has long, elegant locks like Bob Marley.

A male alpaca is called a "macho." A female is an "hembra" and a baby is a "cria." People also just call them males, females or babies.

An average alpaca weighs about 150# and stands about 3 feet tall at the shoulder. They live to be about 20 years old. Their gestation period is about 11.5 months.

Alpacas originated in the Altiplano of Peru, Chile and Bolivia.The first alpacas were imported to this country in 1984 from Chile. Alpacas from Peru and Bolivia followed several years later. At the last census, in 2003, there were only 49,047 registered alpacas in the United States. Of these, 40,368 were Huacayas and 8,679 were Suri. In 1984 there were only 38 breeders in attendance at the first meeting of what was to become the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA). There are now over 5,000 AOBA member farms. The vigorous growth of this industry is rivaled by few.

Alpaca fiber is one of the softest and most versatile in the world. Depending upon the quality, it can be used for everything from the most luxurious of clothing to floor coverings. There are 22 recognized fleece colors and myriad shades in between.

Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and has wicking properties. It pulls moisture away from the skin. Firefighters, hikers and other folks who live in their footwear for long hours appreciate alpaca socks.

As people are retiring and/or just looking for a way to simplify their lives, they are leaving highly paid, stressful, careers and joining like-minded breeders. The majority of breeders own fewer than 10 animals, and maintain them on small acreages.

As with any investment, the return does not come free, but it can be highly rewarding from the very first.

Updated May 01, 2017