What’s the difference between alpacas and llamas?
The main difference is the size. Alpacas are smaller than llamas and have a much higher quality fleece. Alpacas have been bred for their fleece, whereas llamas are bred mainly for trekking. Alpacas weigh between 60-90kg and llamas, 150-210kg. Alpacas are known to be more inquisitive than llamas, but both can be equally as friendly.
Do they spit?
Alpacas will occasionally spit at each other when being fed in close proximity or to establish the pecking order. They also might spit if they feel threatened or aggravated. A human might get caught in the cross-fire but it is unlikely that they would be the target.
How long do they live for?
Alpacas live for 18 to 24 years.
Are there different types of alpacas?
There are two breed of alpacas, the Huacaya(pronounced Wa-ky-ya) and the Suri. Here at Usk Valley, we focus on breeding huacayas which have shorter, denser and crimpier fleece. Suri fleece is less dense and hangs down in ‘dreadlocks’.
Are alpacas easy to work with?
Yes, alpacas are very easy to work with. They are very intelligent animals and though initially can be very shy, after time, and with a confident handler, they become very docile, making it easier to catch and handle them. This is important in order to carry out health checks which include checking their fleece, teeth and trimming their feet.
What’s the gestation period?
The gestation period is 11 and 1/2 months and they usually birth during daylight hours between 7am-3pm. Alpacas tend to birth a single cria, twins are very rare. They are induced ovulators, which means they can be mated at any time of the year.
What do they eat?
Alpacas eat grass and hay or haylage all year round; a camelid food supplement which contains vitamins and minerals specifically for alpacas and llamas is also given.
Can you graze alpacas with other animals?
Alpacas are herd animals so they enjoy being in a group and they will happily live with other livestock such as sheep or horses. Alpacas are commonly used as sheep and chicken guards; detering foxes that approach the flock, especially during the lambing season.
Do they travel well?
Alpacas are great travellers. They are generally moved using a horse box or stock trailer. Once you start moving they will cush down and relax.
How much land do I need?
1 acre can hold 5 alpacas.