Alpacas are gentle, grazing herd animals who are members of the
camelid family along with camels, llamas, vicunas and guanacos.
Alpacas originated in the Andes mountains of South America, and
were imported into the United States in the 1980's. The U.S. registry
has since been closed to outside imports in order to protect the
American market which has grown considerably. As of 2011, there
are approximately 160,000 alpacas registered with U.S. Registry
There are two types of alpacas: huacayas (pronounced wuh-kai-yuh)
and suris (pronounced sir-ee). The difference between the two types
is in their fleece. Huacayas have fleece that grows out from their
bodies in every direction so that they look like large, fluffy sheep.
Suris have fleece that hangs in draping and sometimes twisted locks,
similar to human hair. Here at American Pride Alpacas, we raise
Alpacas are intelligent and easily trained animals, and gentle
enough to be handled by older children. They make a variety of noises
including a nervous hum, a shrill alarm call, and an "orgle"
when breeding. They will spit at one another over limited resources.
They don't like being alone as they are herd animals. Alpacas are
also easy to care for, and gentle on pastures with their hoof-padded
Alpacas come in many different colors, the most popular being white,
black, brown, rose, silver, or even spotted, and in many color combinations.
Alpacas are able to withstand cold temperatures because of their
This fleece is more than just for warmth though, it is one of the
primary purposes for raising alpacas. Their fleece can most closely
be compared to cashmere. Alpaca fiber:
- is extremely fine with little guard hair.
- has less prickle factor than most other animals.
- is compatible with either the woolen or worsted manufacturing
- has excellent insulative, thermal qualities.
- has a rich silky sheen which has high visual appeal in the
- is 30% warmer than the same weight of Merino wool.
- is 4 times more abrasion resistant than Merino wool.
- is stronger than wool and does not pill in the better quality
- contains no grease, lanolin and does not smell.
- is bulky but will spring back when squashed.
- does not retain water and can resist solar radiation.
- does not shrink when washed.
- comes in 22 different colors.
- is lightweight and incredibly soft.
- is rare.
- can be carded and blended with other natural fibers.
- can be easily dyed any color without losing its sheen.
Alpacas are also a great business opportunity. If cared for and
marketed well, huge profits can be made. Marketing plays a huge
role in a successful alpaca farm. Currently the majority of alpaca
owners use the Internet to market their animals. Pricing reflects
each alpaca's breeding potential and the quality of their future
offspring. Ancestry, previous progeny, and the quality of the animal's
fiber can predict this potential.