A Trip to Peru (part 1 of 2)

In September, we were lucky enough to go to Peru!  Well, Alex and the kids stayed home to take care of the farm. But my sister and I, as passionate alpaca breeders,  got to go to Peru and experience alpacas in their native environment and learn about the long tradition of alpaca-based textiles there.  Thanks, Alex and kids!

Today’s post will take a look at the incredible land alpacas call home and the alpacas themselves. A post next week will feature our visits to two different cultural heritage centers/museums.

The Land

So. Peru. We spent most of our time in various towns in the Sacred Valley, in the Cusco Region.  In this landscape, the Andes dominate, and are absolutely gorgeous.  We “oooooh”-ed and “aaaahhh”-ed enough during one drive that our blessed driver finally just laughed and pulled over so that we could get out and take some pictures.  How can you not be awestruck with views like this?

View of Sacred Valley

Looking down into the Sacred Valley

View of Sacred Valley

Just gorgeous!

Or, from the other direction, as it were, views like this?

Mountains

Looking out and up from the Sacred Valley

Do you see all of those lines going across the mountain in front?  Those, it turns out, are worn and ancient remains of stepped terraces cut into the mountainside by the Inca peoples of the region.  In fact, when we were at the pulloff spot taking the pictures from above the valley, there were ruins right behind us that were in better shape.

Ruins

There are ruins just about everywhere you turn, and it’s humbling to think how ingeniously (and how far up the mountains!) the people indigenous to this land worked with their environment to develop a thriving society.

The Alpacas

We were fortunate enough to meet up with an alpaca breeder in the area, Feliz, who agreed to take us to the land where he keeps his herds.  It wasn’t quite seeing alpacas in the wild, but the grazing lands he shares with his community are vast enough that they don’t fence alpacas in the way we have to keep them here in the states!  Feliz wasn’t quite sure how much land their community had for grazing, but he thought it was probably over 1,000 acres.

He and his son drove us out of town, then out of the smaller town, and then up, up, up into the mountains, where there were small villages that dotted the landscape.  Eventually the paved road gave way to packed gravel, and before it was over we were just literally driving up the side of a mountain where no road at all led the way.  It was not a trip for a person with a tendency to get car sick!

As we rode along, it seemed like Feliz was looking for the herds – not too surprising given how much land they have for wandering.  It turns out, that’s exactly what was happening, except technically he was looking for his aunt, who stays with the herd to keep an eye on them, and passes the time spinning fiber and weaving in the field.  When he spotted her, we all got out of the car and hiked our way down to where she was sitting with her weaving, and Feliz let us look around while he visited with her.

Rancher and Tia

Feliz and his aunt. He’s holding a slingshot, which he uses to throw rocks at predators that get too close to the herd. His aunt is spinning fleece with a drop spindle.

Our alpacas in Maryland have a pretty sweet life, but we couldn’t help but think they would be jealous of the space their cousins in Peru get to enjoy.

Grazing herd

Alpacas (and their sheep friends) have LOTS of room to roam in Peru.

It turns out that Feliz has three different herds of alpaca, and we were visiting one of them.  The other two herds had moved too far from the road for us to get to – it was looking for the second that we ended up driving up the roadless mountain!  Fortunately, while we were wandering around this first herd, we thought to ask Feliz if it might be possible to actually get a good look at the fleece on the animals. The herd isn’t what you’d want to call tame, but Feliz managed to sneak up behind one of the alpacas and grabbed a leg, which was impressive to watch.  Once he had the alpaca in hand, it was quite calm, and we got to go up and investigate.

Alpaca closeup

This beauty is the alpaca Feliz caught. Look at that fleece!

Because of the altitude and climate, they shear the alpacas every two years instead of annually.  The fleece gets unbelievably thick, and we were wondering just how long it was on these Huacaya that are due to get their shearing in March.  The density and crimp of the fiber was incredible.

Fleece closeup

No wonder they stay so toasty warm in the mountains!

How lucky to be able to visit this alpaca breeder’s herd!  It was kind of him to take the time to pick us up, drive us out there, and show us around, not to mention catching an alpaca!  It’s hard to imagine ranching on the scale that he does – both in terms of the number of animals and the expanse of land.

One thing is for sure, though: no matter where you find them, alpacas are just about the sweetest animals around.

Alpaca hug

Feliz and his aunt with Heather and her new best alpaca friend.

Also, just because they were the happiest piggies I’ve ever seen, here’s a picture of some pigs, who were happily rooting around in the mountains with the alpacas and sheep.

Piggies

Happy pigs! The amount of earth they can throw around while they root is impressive.

6 Neat Uses for Soft Fluffy Alpaca Fleece

So, you’ve sheared your alpaca for the first time… or maybe you’ve bought some alpaca fleece in Maryland. But what to do with the fleece once you’ve got it? While selling it is certainly an option (who doesn’t need the money?), you should first take a look at how many cool things you can do with it yourself. You might know about some of its uses, but others might surprise you. Read on to find out more!

1. Yarn

Of course, you can turn your alpaca’s soft fleece into yarn. Anyone who’s a fan of knitting or crocheting can certainly appreciate some good quality fiber! Even if you don’t have the time or equipment to do the spinning yourself, there are many mills that are happy to process your fleece.  Most will even dye your fiber for you.  Imagine how many possibilities that opens up. Whether you decide to sell it, give it away, or make a masterpiece with it is up to you!

2. Clothing (especially winter wear)

Who doesn’t love attractive and comfortable alpaca fleece clothing?  Because alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic, anyone can include alpaca fiber clothes into their wardrobe.  Oftentimes, light-colored alpaca fleece can be dyed and handled in such a way that produces gorgeous shirts, bottoms, and clothing accessories. With the yarn produced from your better alpaca fleece, you can create the ideal shawls or cardigans for yourself or as gifts for your friends and loved ones.

Because alpaca fleece is so soft, warm, and comfortable, it’s ideal for winter wear. Imagine having light shawls during the summer and thick coats in the winter! Further, you can make gloves, hats, and scarves that are sure to keep you toasty and cozy during the coldest part of the year. What a blessing!

3. Felting

Just like sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece can be felted.  Felting the fleece opens up a whole new realm of crafting and fiber arts possibilities!  From fun and funky felted hats to delicate needle-felted accents on scarves to toys for kids of all ages, alpaca fleece felt produces items that are sturdy, hypoallergenic, and beautiful.

4. Rugs

If you think alpaca fleece is limited to clothing items, you can think again. Whether spun into super-thick rug yarn or felted, alpaca fleece produces durable and attractive rugs.  And, of course, since it’s alpaca fiber, it’s soft.  This makes it preferable to many wool rugs, which often use lower-quality wool; most feet agree that soft rugs are better than scratchy ones!  Who could argue?

5. Bedding

Using alpaca fleece for your sheets, blankets, or pillow cases can be one of the best decisions of your life. Nothing is better than a good night’s sleep, especially after a long and tiring day. That time in dreamland can be even more blissful when you’re surrounded by the warmth and comfort of alpaca fleece bedding. (You might not want to get out of bed in the morning, though!)  For smaller projects, you can create wonderful throws and afghans from alpaca fleece as well.

6. Toys

Almost every child has a toy they cling to at all times. If you’re in the market for a good child’s toy, you’re in luck! All of that extra alpaca fleece you have (if there’s any left by now) can be used to make the perfect toy. It’s almost guaranteed that your child will love a homemade stuffed animal toy made with real alpaca fleece. Such a toy is sure to put a smile on your child’s face! What better gift could you give?

Now that you’ve read through a variety of ways to use your alpaca fleece, why not get started? Of course not everybody has their own alpaca to shear for fleece.  We are thrilled to be a resource for alpaca fleece in Maryland, and invite you to peruse our collection of high-quality yarns, roving, and finished items.  You can stop by the Little Boutique at Breezy Hill in person or online.  We also will have booths in a few craft fairs throughout the year – check back for updates!

5 Critical Resources for Raising Happy and Healthy Alpacas

Alpacas are basically irresistible. They’re precious, low-maintenance, and are sure to be a great addition to your family. You know this if you’ve ever visited alpaca farms in Maryland or elsewhere. But their near perfection aside, there are some things you need to have to give your alpaca the very best. Below is a list for your convenience!

1. Plenty of Room

Alpacas like to run and roam, and certainly enjoy their freedom to move. The best way to ensure you can offer this to your alpacas is to have lots of land. One acre is usually enough for five to ten alpaca, but more is better, especially if you want more alpaca.   You need to make room – you don’t want these sweet animals cramped or nervous for lack of space!  As we noted in an earlier post, also be sure that their pasture includes a sturdy shelter from the elements.

2. A Good Perimeter Fence

This is important for various reasons. First of all, a good fence will help keep predators away from your alpacas; as alpacas are very susceptible to attacks, this is vital. Strong fences with barbed wire are typically ideal.  Make sure the fence is high enough, too.  A good fence for an alpaca pasture should be 4 feet high.  As noted above, it’s important that the land inside the fence is spacious.  This isn’t only because of space requirements for the alpacas’ daily lives, but  because adequate space allows your alpacas to move away from perceived threats beyond the fence.

3. Protection

Even the best fence may not be enough to keep predators away. One common solution is to put your alpacas around other, sturdier animals (such as llamas or similar herd animals). It may also be a good idea to get a couple of good guard dogs to fight off predators and alert you if there’s trouble around. You can never be too cautious when it comes to your alpacas’ safety!

4. Shears or a Shearer

Shearing your alpacas isn’t all about collecting the fiber! Similar to shaving very furry dogs or regularly brushing a cat, shearing your alpacas is necessary to keep them clean and comfortable. Most people prefer to shear them during the spring, which will ensure that they’re cool during summer and warm during winter. Shearing them once a year also keeps their fleece from becoming matted and ugly. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you for a decent price.

5. Other Alpacas

This is extremely important. The saying goes “no man is an island,” and this is true for alpacas as well. Alpacas are used to living in herds, and raising a social animal all by itself can have a negative impact on its health. We all know how it feels to be left alone for long periods of time; that’s why you should make sure your alpacas don’t have to experience that.  Socialization and companionship with each other is essential to alpacas’ well-being.

We hope you’ve learned something about alpacas, especially if you want some yourself. As long as your put these things into practice, you should be well on your way to raising a happy, healthy herd of lovely alpacas!

If you’d rather visit alpacas instead of raising them yourself, there are plenty of alpaca farms in Maryland for you to visit.  We would love to introduce you to our herd and show you the farm.  Email or call us to schedule a tour!

Caring for Alpacas: 5 Essential Facts

Alpacas are one the most interesting animals in the world. Caring for alpacas is not difficult – in fact, they are easy to keep and even easier to maintain. One of their major advantages is the fact that their fleece makes one of the strongest fibers and is used in many industries.

We have a lot of alpaca farms in MD. Farmers have already discovered that these friendly animals are worth keeping. How do you take care of an alpaca?

1. Build a good shelter for them

Though they have the capability to survive cold and harsh environments, it is advisable to build a good and comfortable shelter if you plan on keeping alpacas. During the summer when the sun is scorching hot, and the temperatures are high, provide a shaded area for them.

If you are grazing them, fence the grazing area to keep them safe from predators. You do not know what’s lurking out there.

Always make sure that the shelter is clean.

2. Provide vet care for them

Alpacas also need medical care just like human beings. You will not spend much on their medical bills, but you must be willing to part with some money.

Familiarize yourself with various alpaca diseases and their symptoms. This will help you to know when an animal is unwell and call a licensed veterinarian for a consultation.

They should also be vaccinated twice every year. The vaccine is the same as that used for sheep.

3. Feed them well

For your alpacas to grow strong and healthy, you will have to feed them well and adequately. Typically, they feed on grass and hay, but they also take specialist concentrated foods. Alpaca food is cheap and easily available, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

You should ensure that they do not feed on poisonous weeds like ragwort while they are grazing. They should also be regularly supplied with clean water.

Most alpaca farms in MD allow farmers who are interested in keeping them to visit and learn more about them.

4. Carefully breed them

An alpaca is ready for breeding at only 18 months old!  However, you should be very careful when breeding your alpacas, especially if you choose to do it yourself.

A baby alpaca, which is referred to as a cria, should not be hand-reared unless there is no other option. This is because managing them might turn out to be difficult as they grow older.

5. Shear them once a year

Alpacas should be sheared once a year since they produce fiber. Shearing should happen primarily during the spring to enable them to comfortably deal with the humid summers. This greatly enhances their survival chances even under harsh conditions.

An alpaca shearer who is experienced takes at most 7 minutes to shear one animal. Shearing is a critical maintenance task, and it should never be missed.

Successful alpaca farms in MD are enough evidence that caring for alpacas is easy and rewarding. The benefits are also great and farmers enjoy huge profits. If you can keep a sheep or any other domestic animal, you can also keep alpacas. Trust me, you will love them!

6 Important Alpaca Health Indicators to Be Aware Of

The health of any animal is indispensable, but especially on an alpaca ranch. A herd of alpaca must be kept safe, comfortable, and well-fed as a whole to produce healthy alpaca individuals.

Some people would refer to alpacas as docile, which is true. In fact, they are prey in their natural environment, and instinctively mask signs of pain or weakness to survive. On a farm, these instincts are still at work, which can make it tricky to monitor your herd’s health.  But when you know basic alpaca health indicators, you can size up the general condition of a single animal or your herd pretty quickly.

Since these creatures are cute and cuddly, you should find it easy to develop a relationship with each animal. With this approach, you can readily assess the herd and identify any suffering alpaca as soon as possible. For example, if a particular alpaca does not exhibit the same degree of friendliness and effervescence as usual, this may indicate that the animal is not well or has been hurt.


6 Important Alpaca Health Indicators

1. If an animal is listless, dull in color, or very skinny, then it may be unhealthy.  Generally, alpacas are alert, curious, and nimble animals, and their coats are lush.  A mature alpaca can range in weight from 48 kg – 84 kg (106 – 185 pounds), depending on height and age.  So if an alpaca is stumbling, lying on the ground and refusing to get up, being less social with its herd members, or just seems and looks more tired than usual, it may be injured or ill. If the condition is minor and easy for you to identify, you can try treating it yourself. However, if it is more serious, consult a veterinarian.

2. If the entire herd is dull, not alert, and not curious, then there may be a parasite or nutrition problem. Get in contact with local vets to find out what diseases are common in your area. Diseases abound but they rarely manifest themselves in a dangerous way. Early detection and treatment will prevent the spread of an illness throughout your herd. The following diseases are a possibility:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Bovine viral diarrhea
  • Hoof and mouth disease
  • Meningeal worm transmitted by rabies, ticks, lice, or deer

The actual occurrence of any of these illnesses is rare in alpaca, but if you are uncertain about your animal’s condition, check with a vet.

Note:
Be careful of how frequently you administer worming medication. Too often, a worming can make worms more resistant to the treatment, leading to the need for more concentrated or costly medication. Monitor your own area and administer a wormer quarterly or when infestation is actually detected. The alpaca density on a farm determines the rate of spread of a disease. Study alpaca droppings for signs of worms and rotate to new pastures if worms are detected.

3. If an animal has an over-bite or has crooked legs, it may have genetic problems that will affect its mobility and health. If you’re purchasing an alpaca, pass over all such animals unless the owner can prove it was an injury and not genetic.

4. Blue eyes with a white coat may indicate deafness, which is genetic. Check for this and make sure you are prepared to treat them appropriately if you go ahead and purchase this alpaca

5. Alpacas should have narrow chests and straight legs, a nice tuft of hair topping their heads, and should always be alert and curious. However, they should not be aggressive, kicking or jumping on humans.

6. If you plan to breed your animals, you will need to see pedigree information, the parents (if they are still on the ranch), and all vet and vaccination records.


Also good to know:

Alpaca health issues may cause neurological symptoms such as seizures, ataxia (loss of coordination), head tilt, tremors, etc. To prevent these health problems in your herd, educate yourself about the animals you own.  Understanding what diseases can affect your animals will help you know how to prevent these and other diseases.

If you never take your animals anywhere, you only need to ensure that all visitors have not come from another farm and do not track anything in on their shoes. If you show your animals or have new animals, then it is a good idea to have a quarantine area set up. The space ideally would have a buffer zone all around of uncut land as wide as an alpaca can spit. Alpacas can catch a disease from any other ruminant, including goats, camels, cows and so forth.

Every animal will have a different personality. Every farm will have its own climate and landscape challenges.  And every farm deals with animal and herd health challenges.  But keeping an eye on these alpaca health indicators will allow for early detection and treatment of any condition.  And keeping your herd healthy means that most of your time will be spent enjoying your animals.

If you want to visit a farm, visit our alpaca ranch in MD. You’ll be sure to have a very good time.

 

7 Reasons Alpacas Make Great Pets

Most people know that alpacas can be used as pack animals and that their fleece is valued for its silkiness. Pet lovers often ask if alpacas can make friendly pets. The truth is, these llama cousins are friendly and easy to handle. Besides being inquiring, they are also intelligent and sensitive. Additionally, they are calming to be around and show a quick response to gentle handling. Here are 7 reasons alpacas make great pets.

1. Alpacas Have Super-Soft Hypoallergenic Fleece.

If you have never touched alpaca fleece, you will be delighted at how soft it feels. Besides being fluffy and soft, alpaca fiber is naturally free from lanolin and other allergy-causing agents. Whether you want to hug an alpaca or make a blanket from its fleece, you are not likely to suffer the same redness and itchiness caused by other types of fiber. Additionally, alpaca fiber has been granted a class 1 rating by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission because of its flame resistant nature. This fleece is also water resistant, making it a warmer alternative to cotton, and a lightweight option to sheep’s wool.

2. Given Time, Alpacas Are Typically Receptive to Human Touch.

Every relationship is founded on trust. Once this amazing animal becomes acquainted with you, it will be much more receptive to your contact and touch. In fact, alpacas tend to be more similar to cats in behavior than to dogs. After establishing trust from familiarity, most alpacas will allow you to stroke their backs and necks, and even hug them! What’s more, alpacas are very friendly and even more receptive to children than adults, perhaps because children are small, and therefore less intimidating to be around with than adults.

3. Alpacas Have Different Personalities and Come in Many Shades.

Like people, alpacas are individuals, each one with a different personality. Some are shy and passive, some playful and boisterous, while others are proud and determined. They are not only fun to be around, but also curious about everything happening in their surroundings. Furthermore, alpacas are colorful creatures; their fur has been classified in 16 different shades. This attractive range of colors eliminates the need for artificial dying when their fleece is used in interior design or fashion. Alpacas’ special blend of characters and colors will make you spend most of your time strolling among them, watching, and being entertained by their antics.

4. Alpacas Are Easy to Train Compared to Other Pets.

Alpacas are perfect animals for training and can even be trained by kids using a leash and a halter. It is wonderful to watch children put alpacas through their paces — walking over crinkly obstacles, navigating between hay bales, walking across bridges, and even jumping small fences!

5. Alpacas Are Tidy.

As stated earlier, alpacas are more similar to cats in behavior than to dogs. An example of this is that they tend to love a communal dung heap. This quality is beneficial to you because it relieves you from the stress of collecting randomly scattered droppings. Thus, you can select an ideal spot for your alpacas to deposit their beans. Not only does this make clean-up easier, it provides you with a great source of perfect garden fertilizer. Alpaca dung is not “hot”, so you can take it directly to the garden without the risk of scorching your plants.

6. Alpacas Are Helpful.

Alpacas make great guardians of other herd animals like cows, goats, and sheep. They can co-habitate peacefully with most domestic herd animals, as they are not very intimidating to them. However, even though they are smaller than llamas, they do an excellent job keeping away small predators like possums, coyotes, weasels, and skunks. As a bonus, alpacas can help with your lawn mowing, because they bite off the tops of grass while grazing, rather than pulling it up by the roots like sheep.
And always remember, if the need arises, you can use them to transport your luggage from one place to another!

7. Alpacas Are Easy to Care For.

If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep up to ten alpacas. Their day-to-day upkeep and training is easy, but like any animal, alpacas need care and attention. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, of course, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, regularly scheduled vaccinations and de-worming, and routine toenail trimming. The cost of keeping alpacas varies depending on your plans and herd size.

Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to keep them as pets because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

If you’re in the area and want to see just how friendly alpacas are, you should stop over at our alpaca farm in Md. We think you’ll agree that alpacas make great pets! After a fun visit with the animals, you can visit our store as well to see a beautiful variety of alpaca fiber products.

Alpaca Farm: 2-minute film about Breezy Hill Farm

On March 4, we had some special guests here at Breezy Hill! It was an honor to have LCPL Joseph Jacob and PFC Isabella Ortega of the US Marines visit and speak with us.  They made a brief documentary about our alpaca farm for a class project, and we think it is just delightful.

Press play to hear a bit about the farm and our wonderful animals and, of course, to see just how cute alpacas are. (Spoiler alert: They are very cute.)

 

Plan a Visit to Breezy Hill Alpaca Farm

We would love to have you come see the farm for yourself, so set up your own visit today!
Email us at breezyhillalpacas@gmail.com or call 410-489-5802.

Raw Alpaca Fleece – Top 6 Things You Can Make with It

 

Alpaca fiber and raw Alpaca fleece is much finer and warmer than wool. It has no natural grease and does not need cleaning before being spun into yarn. Alpaca is available in different colors, so spinners can work with the natural colors available without adding dyes. Some characteristics of alpaca fleece include:

  • Natural fiber from animals
  • Soft, lightweight, and luxurious fiber
  • Durable
  • Can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned
  • Has little static
  • Can be dyed
  • Blends well with other fibers

Local spinners in small mills all over the United States process alpaca fiber. There are also corporations that pool this type of fiber to create finished products. Most garments made with raw alpaca fleece are hand-made.

What to Look For When Buying Raw Alpaca Fiber

  • The length of the fibers should be uniform. The longer the fibers, the better.
  • Buy clean fibers. Some of the fiber available for sale is dirty with vegetation debris and dirt.
  • Check to see if the animal producing the fiber is properly taken care of. The texture of the fleece will depend on the health of the animal.

Things You Can Make with Raw Alpaca Fleece

1. Bedding (Stuffing in Duvets and Pillows)

Alpacas are raised in a natural setting environment without herbicides. They are not dipped into pesticides or chemicals, so their fleece is clean and harmless. The wool is perfect for making bedding pieces like duvets because the fiber has a modulated core which is fully or partially hollow. This aspect deters dust mites, which can cause asthma and other wool allergies. The porous nature of raw alpaca fleece is effective in the creation of an extra insulation value for the perfect balance of temperature in the bedroom. The bedding pieces made from raw alpaca fleece are easy to clean. There is no need of using chemical cleaners on alpaca fleece products; just place them in the sun to clean and deodorize them. Pillows made using raw alpaca fleece are luxurious and comfortable, and very safe to use.

2. Hats

The process of making hats from raw alpaca fleece is similar to the process of making hats using any other type of wool. The only difference is that using alpaca fleece is preferred, especially for people with wool allergies. The hats made from alpaca fibers are a good companion especially in the cold seasons. The porous nature of this fleece is important for temperature regulation in hot seasons, too. The different colors of alpaca fleece is a perfect feature in the making of hats. There is no need to add dyes to the natural color of the fleece when making hats.

3. Knitting Mitts, Gloves and Socks

Alpacas have two different fleece types: Huacaya fleece and Suri fleece. Huacaya fleece is crimped and wavy, whereas the Suri is a straight, fine and lustrous fiber. The Huacaya fleece is preferable for making mitts, gloves, and socks due to its coarser and shorter length features and how warm they are.

4. Braided Rugs and Baskets

These can be made from third grade fleece, which is the coarsest of all alpaca fleece textures. The making of rugs and baskets, however, requires some form of training. The rugs made from these fleece are durable and of high quality, not to mention visually appealing. The baskets, on the other hand, are also durable and can be used for decoration and shopping or traveling.

5. Knitted Jumpers

The making of jumpers from raw alpaca fleece also requires some form of training, but not to worry, the courses are short and easy to understand. The jumpers made from this fleece are of high quality (perfect for people with wool allergies) and durable. The jumpers have a high demand in the market and are pricey. Therefore, anybody can take up the production of raw alpaca fleece as a business idea and it will surely pay off in a short time.

6. Toys (Stuffed Animals)

The fact that alpaca fleece is safe to use and and has no allergy effect makes it perfect for making children’s toys, like stuffed animals. The wool can be used both to stuff inside the toy and to make the body of the toy. The teddy bears made from this fleece are fluffy and soft, and do not attract dust mites.

Alpaca fleece comes in 22 natural colors, with more than three hundred shades. This, together with the fact that alpaca ranching has a low impact on the environment, has caused the increase in demand for this type of wool.

The Top 10 Things Needed to Own an Alpaca

Since the 1980s, the demand for alpacas has grown considerably despite the plummeting global economic status. These camelids were first imported into the United States at the beginning of 1984 from Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador. All over the globe, people refer to them as “the world’s wealthiest livestock business.”

Indeed, alpacas are beyond adorable. These animals grow to about half the size of a llama and can be brown, white, black, or any other intermediate shade. Alpacas do not butt or bite, and are free of sharp horns, teeth, claws, and hooves. They are easy to work with because they are quite docile. This article will tell you the top ten things needed to own an alpaca if you are interested in purchasing one from the alpaca farms in MD.

1. Enough Fenced Land

At least one acre of land is needed for every five to ten alpacas. The fence needs to be at least four and a half to five feet tall and strong, with openings of about four inches apart to ensure your alpaca does not break it or jump over it. A strong and properly constructed fence will also keep coyotes and wandering dogs from attacking your alpacas when they are out of the security of their farm and herd.

2. Shelter

Alpacas need to have enough protection from the sun, wind, rain, and snow. Also, you should be able to keep your alpaca cool during summer and warm during winter. A three-sided farm structure facing south or east works just fine. You should also consider having a barn where your alpacas will have the choice of staying in or moving out into the adjoining strips or paddocks.

3. Leads and Halters

To avoid fighting your alpaca every time you need to transport it from one place to another, you need snugly fitting leads and halters. The alpaca halter should fit properly with the nose band high on the bridge close to the alpaca’s eyes, and not loose or low as in the case of cows and horses.

4. Alpaca Blankets

Some alpacas get colder than others. Even though you might not use it frequently, it is important to acquire alpaca blankets for the cold seasons. A $60 alpaca blanket is a worthwhile investment.

5. Feeding/Water Containers and Troughs

Alpacas need approximately three inches of feeding area to keep them from feeling overcrowded and in competition for the available feed with other alpacas in the herd. Thus, using large feeding troughs to hold their hay is recommended. If you are using 60-pound bales, purchase or create a feeding box that fits the bale and then put a 4 x 4 hog wire panelling on top to allow the alpacas to easily pick the grass without getting it in their topknots. Furthermore, gallon buckets are needed to refresh your alpaca with good and fresh water daily. It is also vital to clean and scrub the water buckets regularly to prevent bacterial/parasite growth and slime/algae buildup.

6. First Aid Kit

An alpaca first aid kit is necessary for emergencies and for routine care. The first aid kit should contain items like splints, large bandages, a bottle of saline solution, an aspirator bulb, natural tears, alcohol for sterilization, a tube of Terramycin for their eyes, a thermometer, cotton or first-aid tape/gauze, a stethoscope, sterile gloves, lubricants like Vaseline, and much more. Consult your vet to know exactly what to put in your first aid kit.

7. Toe and Teeth Supplies

You need normal garden trimmers to trim the toes of your alpaca. Also, you can get rid of overgrown teeth using an appropriate teeth grinder/clipping tool like Tooth-o-Matic.

8. A Scale

A scale will be required to take the weight of the cria or the pounds of feed needed to satisfy your alpaca in a day.

9. Manure Utilities

You will also need to have appropriate manure tools, for instance, shovels, rakes, and a wheel barrow to muck away the manure to the compost heap.

10. Alpaca Reference Books

Alpaca reference materials like The Alpaca Field Manual and The Alpaca Magazine will help you and your vet determine potential issues when they arise and what to do.

Alpaca products such as wool and fiber have vast benefits including creation of products like pillows, blankets, yarn, mittens, weed-block, and much more. Additionally, you can decide to use your alpaca for breeding or to supply top quality manure to greenhouses. Taking up alpaca farming is simple because these animals have a trouble-free and relatively long reproductive lifespan. What’s more, these animals can be fully insured against any uncertainties. Not everything has to be new to own an alpaca. Being resourceful and creative can help to cut most expenses when starting an alpaca farm.

5 Reasons Alpaca Fur is Superior to Other Clothing Fibers

Alpaca wear has a long and venerable history. The first record of Alpacas was in the Andean mountains. Alpacas were perfect for producing a fiber suitable for protecting these people from their extreme climate. Alpaca fiber is similar to wool and known for its beauty, lustre, warmth, and stain resistance. It is comparable to cashmere in beauty and thermal properties but can be spun to look like fur or tweed. Alpaca wear is not only beautiful but also longer wearing than almost any other fiber.

Some of its benefits are mentioned below:

1. It’s Natural

The quality of the wool is determined by its growth, scales, length, and diameter. This makes it different from fur. Its elastic properties make it easy to work with and blend with other wool and other natural or synthetic fibers. The process of obtaining the wool from the producing animals varies, with the quickest, most common and painless method being the shearing of sheep.

2. Non-allergic and resistant to fire

With the many highly processed products in the market today, only wool stands out as purely natural. This makes it very safe, especially for newborn babies who are still very sensitive to the environment. This product causes no skin irritation or reactions and hence is best for the whole family. This has been a problem when it comes to manmade synthetic fibers, which have undergone plenty of chemical treatments and processing. Wool has a very high ignition threshold and does not drip or melt. Hence it is very safe in all circumstances, especially in bedding and sleepwear for children.

3. Moisture Absorption

The hollow characteristic of wool fiber makes it hydrophilic; it absorbs water, a very large amount of water. It can absorb almost a third of its weight before being saturated, thereby keeping the wearer dry even in wet weather for some time. These properties allow it to retain its shape as long as proper care is taken as directed by the garment manufacturer.

4. Heat Retention

This is the most sought-after property in wool. Alpaca is very good at retaining heat and trapping air in so as to keep the wearer warm throughout. Heat retention is also a characteristic of fur, but fur is bulky. This light-weight heat retention property is what makes wool a preferred fiber for warm clothing like scarves, sleeping garments, hats, and coats in a cold climate.

5. Versatility

Due to this characteristic, wool can be blended or incorporated into many different products. It can be used for clothing for newborns, long coats, and general garments like men’s suits. Wool is a very fashionable fiber and defines what class is all about. It has been used in almost every type of clothing from business suits to sportswear, to blazers, to fleeces, and across all age groups. It has been recognized as an environmentally friendly material suitable for all situations. In addition to being comfortable and fashionable, wool is renewable and recyclable. This puts it in line with the green wardrobe and green living movements that have started up recently in an effort to minimize carbon emissions and maximize the use of renewable resources worldwide.

Alpaca-wear accessories are cute, flirty, fun, stylish, and long-lasting. Alpaca wool’s versatility is legendary and it can be as tightly spun as the finest silk and still retain its strength and lustre, or can be spun to look like fur but with warmth unmatched by any other wool. From sassy hats to fluffy alpaca slippers, alpaca clothing and accessories are gifts of comfort and utility.

Alpaca-wear hats made of 100% baby alpaca fur are a delight to wear and to behold. This fun accessory makes the perfect gift for the lady with a love of luxury and style. These gorgeous hats will be a gift she keeps and wears for years to come.

To demonstrate yet again just how versatile alpaca wear is, long johns of Alpaca are certain to become favorites of him or her. With all the warmth of traditional long johns but with the superior breathability and comfort of alpaca-wear, these 70% baby alpaca wool blended with 30% acrylic long johns are keepers that are bound to make alpaca converts of almost anyone!

Alpaca wear makes a superior gift for the lady or man who deserves something special. You can never go wrong with a fiber that combines the best qualities of wool, synthetics, silk, cashmere, and more and is crafted into elegant fashion accessories, outerwear, or even fun fluffy slippers.

Whatever you want your gift to say, say it with style! Alternatively, just treat yourself to the luxury and elegance of alpaca or the warmth and comfort of unisex alpaca long johns. And don’t forget the teddy bears!