Alpacas: Just the Facts
by Phil Switzer
Life span: About 18-20 years; average height: 3 feet at the
shoulder and 4.5 feet at the head.
Average weight: Adult, 150-185 lbs. Baby, 16-20 lbs at birth.
Fiber colors range from a true non fading black to brilliant white
with roans, pintos, browns, reds, fawns, rose grays, charcoal grays,
The average production is about 4 lbs. per year per adult alpaca and sells (in a clean state) for about $3 to $6 per ounce.Shearing is recommended every 1-2 years depending on climate.
Alpacas are very hardy, healthy, and easy to care for. In most
cases you will only have your Vet out twice a year for shots and other maintenance procedures (depends on your area, ask your Vet).
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are they used for?
They are used for breeding stock, fiber producers, pets, light
pack animals, therapy, and investments.
Are they intelligent?
Alpacas are intelligent and easy to train. In just 4-5
repetitions they will pick up and retain many skills such as
accepting a halter, being led, and loading in and out of a
Who do you sell their fiber to?
Handspinners, yarn shops, and weavers are the major market for
clean alpaca fiber. They love all the various colors of alpaca.
What and how much do they eat?
Alpacas are ruminants with three compartment stomachs. They chew their cud like cattle and sheep. They are very efficient and only eat 2-3 bales of grass hay per month. In most cases, they require mineral supplements .
Where can they be raised?
In almost any climate. In very hot climates, yearly shearing is
required along with misting or sprinklers and shade. In very cold
climates, closed barns are recommended. In most climates, a
3-sided shelter is all that is required.
What is their personality like?
Alpacas are very gentle and curious.They are social animals and
can be pleasantly dependent on humans. With a little training
they become great pets. Alpacas will occasionally spit at each
other when they are competing for food or trying to establish
their pecking order. Alpacas will not spit at people unless they
have been abused by people.
What sounds do they make?
Alpacas communicate with a series of ear and tail positions and
body postures as well as a humming sound and a shrill alarm call
when threatened by predators.
How much do they cost?
(as of early 1994) Pet or fiber males begin at $1,000 (US) with
stud quality males beginning at $4,000 and many selling for
$10,000 or more. Weanling females begin at $13,000 and bred
females at $16,000.
How can they be transported?
They can be transported in a small station wagon (Subaru has been
used) for short trips of an hour or so. They require larger
vehicles such as a mini-van, full size van, small trailer, horse
trailer, or large truck depending on how many and how far you are transporting them.
Link to more info: