Alpaca fiber farming provides the opportunity to enjoy working with an intelligent livestock capable of learning their names and an endless opportunity for expansion within the farm revenue and activities, as well as producing a high end sellable product – the fiber. Alpaca fiber is what is shorn off of the animal once a year. Alpaca wool is called fiber to distinguish it from sheep’s wool. It is six times warmer than sheep’s wool, naturally wicking, and does not itch or contain lanolin. It is graded based on fineness.
There are seven standard colors in naturally occurring alpaca fiber. All seven come in light medium and dark varieties, therefore 21 different color variety or shades exist within the name natural standard coloration. Natural blends may exist but these fall under a fancy category and are often just color blends from the standard 21 colors that may exist on an individual animal.
Alpaca fiber farming can generate revenue from the alpaca fiber produced, the sale of products made from the fiber, as well as income from farm visits, kids camps, birthday celebrations, educational classes for adults and children, and a host of other creative ideas, plus the sale of alpacas themselves.
Alpacas make a great small farm livestock because they eat far less then a cow or a horse due to their fishing digestive system and nearly everything produced from the alpaca can be turned into a revenue stream. Farms with 2 to 20 acres can use their land to raise alpacas efficiently well selling the alpaca fiber, and converting the alpaca waste into fertilizer, often called alpaca beans. The unusable fiber can be turned into mulch for gardens. They are a hardy animal that does not require a tremendous amount of care, but they do benefit from interaction when that is available. Training your alpaca herd reaps benefits not only in the multitude of activities you can do with your alpaca but also when it comes time for basic herd maintenance.
Alpacas live 15 to 20 years, and can breed into their teen years as long as their body score and condition allows.