What is an alpaca?
An alpaca is a species of a South-American camelid. They’re closely related to llamas, as well as other similar species, including guanacos and vicunas, which are all South American natives too. Alpacas have two main breeds, the Suri and the Huacaya. They’re around 32 - 29 inches in height at the shoulders and can weigh anything between 106 and 185 pounds. Descendants of alpacas first appeared in the Americas around 40-45 million years ago.
How long do alpacas live?
If they are looked after, cared for and live in great conditions, there is no reason your alpaca can't live for at least 20 years. You'll have years of fantastic experiences and memories with your alpaca and they’ll repay that with equal amounts of love and affection. From a breeding point of view, a female alpaca can birth 10-12 cria in her lifetime, making them an incredibly sound investment.
What do alpacas eat?
The main diet of your average alpaca is pretty simple and is very cheap in terms of running costs. They mainly live off grass, hay and not a great deal else! This kind of diet means you shouldn't expect many digestive problems which aren’t common in alpacas. If you're in a generous mood, alpacas love treats like carrots, apples and turnips. You'll need to chop them up very small so that they don't choke on them, however.
Where do alpacas live?
Alpacas live primarily in Bolivia and the Andes of Southern Peru in South America. Both the Suri and Huacaya alpaca are herd animals and live in high altitude areas - around 3,500 to 5,000ft above sea level.
Where do alpacas come from?
Alpacas are pack animals, come from South America and are descendants of the camelid family, which also includes the llama and the Guanaco, which are still common throughout South America. They are bred from the wild Vicuna which is now a protected species.
Are alpacas friendly?
In short, yes. Alpacas are incredibly friendly creatures who love human attention, affection and are very calm around children too. Their temperaments are very steady, they’re not erratic and are generally cheerful animals. Obviously, all alpacas have different personalities. Some like to be walked, others are more relaxed, happy to be fussed over by the owner and enjoy time in the field.
Do alpacas spit?
Spitting is rare in alpacas, so there’s no need to worry about them spitting on you out of the blue. However, alpacas will spit when they feel distressed or threatened by something in their surroundings, or when they are trying to act dominant or compete for food. It's important to remember that alpacas will never spit at people unless they have been abused or threatened.
Can alpacas be kept on their own?
No, alpacas are natural herd animals, so become easily stressed if left alone even for a short period of time. They should always be kept in groups of 3 or more.
Do they need shelter or fencing?
All alpacas need is a field shelter that is large enough to house them and give them cover from the rain. A metre-high barrier is enough protection around the field perimeter, as alpacas don’t challenge fences.
How long is their gestation period?
A female alpacas gestation period is 11 months.
How much land do alpacas need?
Alpacas aren't particularly fussy, as long as you have a small acreage of pasture. In fact, just one acre of pasture is fine to house around 6 alpacas. You can increase this amount if you're able to rotate the land for them to live on. You can also keep more alpacas per acre but you will need to think about supplementing the grass with other raw materials like hay.
How big is an acre in the UK?
1 acre, enough to keep around 6 alpacas, is equivalent to 43560 square feet.
How much do alpacas cost in the UK?
The price of male and female alpacas varies greatly in the UK. In general, the price of alpacas ranges from £3,000 to £10,000. Pregnant alpacas or breeding females will sell for a higher rate, as will alpacas that have other desirable factors such as strong lineage, quality fibre quality and conformation. Geldings are significantly cheaper, because they are unable to breed, and are available to buy for around £300 to £1000. Alpacas bred in the UK are renowned internationally as some of the best in the world, due to our commitment to developing the species and the strong community of alpaca enthusiasts in the UK.
Where to buy an alpaca?
If you're looking where to buy an alpaca then look no further than Charnwood Forest! Our team will work with you to ensure you have everything in place to give your alpaca a great life. We have a selection of alpacas, all with different temperaments and qualities that will suit you. If you’re interested in buying an alpaca then please give us a call - our team would love to speak to you!
How to buy an alpaca?
When you visit Charnwood Forest you'll meet with Chris and the team who will discuss your setup and assess your capability for looking after an alpaca. Once this has been established, we'll show you around Charnwood Forest so you get a better idea of the high standards to which we breed and look after our alpacas. Once you have purchased your alpaca from us our team of experts will be on hand should you have any questions or concerns.
Do alpacas make good pets?
Alpacas make fantastic domestic pets and only require basic care. As long as you have the appropriate amount of pasture and the means to keep up the running costs of looking after an alpaca (food, shelter etc), there is no reason you can't keep some and give them a full, healthy life. Alpaca owners love that they only really require basic care, and lots of love, for them to be happy and content.
What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?
There is a lot of confusion about the difference between a llama and an alpaca. The key difference is that llamas are much bigger and have elongated faces with ears that are about the size of a banana. In contrast, alpacas have small, blunt faces with shorter ears. Another major difference is that alpacas have shaggy hair which is used for fleece production whereas llamas hair is coarser and not as desirable.
What is a baby alpaca called?
A baby alpaca is called a cria and weaned crias are called weanlings or tuis.
What noise does an alpaca make?
Alpacas are very cute sounding and make a variety of noises. When they are excited they tend to make a 'wark' noise. If an alpaca likes you, and wants to tell you that, they will 'cluck' or 'click'. As well as a semi-regular hum, these are some sounds to keep an ear out for!
What is alpaca wool called?
Alpaca wool is more of a fleece-like material and is the natural fibre that is harvested from an alpaca. There are two types of fleece and the main one comes from the Huacaya breed. This fibre is similar to sheep wool in that it looks fluffy and tightly wound. Alpaca fibres are silky and considered very luxurious. They’re actually very similar to cashmere but are much more durable. Alpaca fleece is also hypoallergenic and contains no lanolin, which is present in sheep’s wool and can give some people an allergic reaction.
How much is alpaca fleece worth?
Fleece value is dependent on various factors including quality of fibre grade and welfare of the animal. For top-quality, first grade fibre, you can expect to pay £4 to £5 per kilo. The price does depreciate quickly if there are imperfections to the fibre. We advise that you should always look for high-quality fibre and give your alpacas the highest quality of care to ensure you can sell the fleece for good money.
How to shear an alpaca?
Shearing an alpaca is a delicate job but it can be picked up by most people given the right direction and training. Lie the alpaca on its side and tether its legs, then simply shear the fleece on one side before rolling it over and shearing the other side. Because of their natural relaxed and amiable temperament, this 6-10 minute job causes very little distress to the alpaca.
What is alpaca wool used for?
Alpaca wool can be used for a variety of different things, from sweaters, mittens and gloves right the way through to sportswear, bed sheets and rugs. Alpaca wool is soft and considered very luxurious. And, because it is a much finer yarn, it can be made into a variety of things, like lightweight shirts, that aren't feasible when using sheep's wool.
Is there an alpaca walking near me?
We offer some fantastic alpaca experiences here at Charnwood Forest. We're located in the heart of the East Midlands which makes us an ideal location for virtually everyone in the UK to come and visit us. People who come to Charnwood Forest love the alpaca walking experiences that we offer and we think you will too!
Is there an alpaca farm near me?
Yes! Charnwood Forest is based near popular towns in the East Midlands like Nottingham, Leicester and Burton On Trent. Where we are situated makes us a perfect place to visit from further afield too. So, if you're from Birmingham, Stoke-On-Trent or down south then be sure to pay us a visit, you won't be disappointed!
Is there an alpaca experience near me?
The Charnwood Forest Farm is located in the East Midlands and is near popular motorways and transport links making us fairly easy to get to. We have lots of onsite parking and are able to accommodate alpaca trailers. We have a range of alpaca experiences as well as other things to do. We also offer packages where you can enjoy an alpaca experience then spend some time in our Chilli Bean Cafe!