Old Bakery Alpacas

Bred for Fine Fibre
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are alpacas dangerous?
A:No, they are safe and pleasant to be around. They do not generally bite or butt, and do not have the teeth, horns, hooves, or claws to do serious injury. Occasionally, an alpaca will kick with its hind legs if approached or touched from the rear, but the soft, padded feet usually do little more than just "get your attention".
Q: How are alpacas different from Llamas?
A: While both are members of the camel (or camelid) family, they are distinctly different animals. They are cousins of the Llama. They are about one-third the size of a Llama. Alpacas weigh in the range of 125-145 lbs. Some animals may reach 170 lbs. Their ears and muzzle are shorter. Alpacas have more fleece coverage, especially on their legs.
Q: Why buy an alpaca?
A: They produce a soft and luxurious fleece, comparable to cashmere, that is turned into a wide array of products from teddy bears to garments to felt. The fleece itself is known globally for its fineness, softness, light weight, durability, excellent thermal qualities, and luster. Additionally, alpacas represent an excellent investment and income-generating potential. Many alpaca breeders rely on the sale of their animals and finished goods for a large part (or sole source) of their income.
Q: How much land do I need to raise alpacas?
A: Because alpacas are so environmentally-friendly, you can usually raise about five to ten animals per acre, depending on terrain, rain/snowfall amounts, availability of pasture, etc.
Q: What do alpacas eat?
A: The primary thing alpacas eat is plain grass or hay. Alfalfa is discouraged or fed only sparingly, as it has a high protein content that can be unhealthy for the alpacas. One to one-and-a-half, 60-pound bales of hay will usually feed between 20 to 25 alpacas each day. Most alpaca owners give their animals some type of supplemental grain, especially in the winter. Some owners also give their animals food pellets as a nutritional supplement or training reward. Additionally, all alpacas require access to free-choice salts and trace minerals.
Q: Are alpacas easy to care for?
A: Yes, they are small and easy livestock to maintain. They should have basic shelter and protection from heat and foul weather. They do not challenge fences. Being livestock, however, they do require certain vaccinations and must be on an anti-parasitic control program. Additionally, their toenails need to be trimmed every couple of months and their fleeces sheared off once a year.
Q: Do alpacas spit?
A: Not very often.  All members of the camel family use spitting as a means of communication, mainly amongst each other for example around the feeding trough, when the animals may become possessive about what they consider to be "their food". It is rare though that an alpaca would spit on a human on purpose (although humans can sometimes get caught in the cross-fire!).
Q: How long do they live?
A: Truth is, we're not really sure. In South America, they can live for about 15-20 years. But as alpacas were only recently brought to the UK we don't have enough data yet to know how long they will live under the conditions found here. We hope they will live at least twenty years and perhaps significantly longer.
Q: What is involved in shearing?
A: The main goal in shearing is to minimize stress. This process will put some stress on animals of all types. You also want to avoid second cuts. There are two basic methods for shearing alpacas: lying down or prostrate position using restraints or on a shearing table, or standing position. Use the standing position only when the alpaca is halter-trained. We hire someone to shear our animals; use the lying position with electric shears.
Q: What is the best age to buy an alpaca?