Bred solely for their fleece alpacas are ideal for those wishing to start a small enterprise on a limited acreage which provides both pleasure and income.
Alpacas, as part of the South American Camelid family, are cousins of the llama. They have a very gentle disposition and have been domesticated in their native Andes for thousands of years where their fibre has always been highly valued.
The simple husbandry of alpacas makes them one of the most attractive animals to farm. Although they must of course be checked like any other domesticated animal their requirements are really very few and their hardiness makes them one of the most trouble free animals.
Their original native environment, and still the home for the vast bulk of the world’s population of alpacas, is in the Andean countries of Peru, Chile and Bolivia where they live high on the alti-plano, usually at 4,000 metres and above.
There are two types of alpaca – Huacaya and Suri.
The Suri alpaca, of which there are very few in the UK, has the look of a Wensleydale sheep or Angora goat with long ‘locks’ which hang down loose and long. The fibre of the Suri has many wonderful features including excellent lustre, great softness and handle but has no crimp.
The Huacaya (pronounced wakaya) has an appearance like a merino sheep. The fleece on the huacaya is made up of crimped staples which grow directly away from the skin giving the huacaya a more heavily fleeced sheep like appearance. The fibre holds dyes well and produces a hard wearing yet very soft and lustrous yarn. Alpacas of Wessex only breed Huacayas.