For those not familiar with alpacas, here is some basic information. Alpacas are very gentle animals. Alpacas have large, expressive eyes and they make a humming noise to communicate. These animals are easy on the environment because they do not pull the grass out at the roots and their soft, padded feet don’t harm the ground. Alpacas produce between 2-10 lbs. or more of luxurious fiber each year, and their manure is a great fertilizer.
Alpacas grow to be about 3 feet high and about 4.5 feet high on the top of the head. They average about 150 lbs. Pregnant females (dams) bear only one offspring per year. The gestation period is between 11-12 months. A baby alpaca is called a cria. Crias weigh between 12-20 lbs. at birth.
Alpacas are ruminants and eat grass, hay, and alpaca feed. 5-7 alpacas can generally be put out to graze on one acre of pasture. Alpacas also eat a small amount of pellet type food daily.
Alpacas need to be shorn once a year. In the summertime they need access to fresh water, shade, and air circulation. With proper management alpacas can live to be 15-20 years of age.
The cost to care for an alpaca is comparable to what it costs to care for a medium sized dog, including medication and feed. Alpaca breeding stock can be depreciated on your taxes, and they can be insured for full mortality and theft.