Q. They're really expensive, aren't they?
A. At this stage of the industry's development, price is directly related to the individual breeding potential and the potential quality of the offspring.
For example, a gelding (castrated male) has no breeding potential and is therefore the cheapest alpaca to buy (around $500 to $1,000). On the other hand, a high quality male with many good progeny on the ground has a very high breeding potential and can be worth many thousands of dollars. He can also command a high income from the stud services he provides.
Female prices are a reflection of quality, age, breeding history and to which stud male she is bred to. Females can be worth anything from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
Income from females is derived from selling the offspring. However, breeding plans should be made so that long term depreciation of the older breeders and increases in quality of offspring are taken into account.
Q. Do alpacas spit?
A. The short answer is yes. Alpacas have the ability to spit as do all camelids however alpacas generally do not spit at people. They do spit at each other generally over food. A pregnant female will spit at a male if she is indeed pregnant. "Enough is enough!"
Q. What do you do with an alpaca?
A. They provide an excellent investment opportunity and are the source of luxurious fiber. The fleece, comparable to cashmere, is known for its fineness, light weight, and luster. Alpaca textile products are recognized world-wide. Everyone should own a soft, warm alpaca sweater.
Q. What do alpacas do besides grow fiber?
A. They make excellent companion animals and are also show animals with high aesthetic appeal. They have lovable dispositions. Alpacas are easily trained to lead and are gentle enough to be handled by children. They are always a hit in a parade.
Q. What do you call an alpaca?
A. A baby is known as a cria. Weaned crias are known as weanlings or tuis. In Spanish, the adult males are known as machos and the females are hembras.
Q. Can you pack with an alpaca?
A. They can carry a light backpack on summer outings, but for heavier loads the larger llama is more appropriate.
Q. Are alpacas related to llamas?
A. Alpacas are very closely related to llamas. They are both from a group of four species known as South American Camelids. The llama is approximately twice the size of an alpaca with banana shaped ears and is principally used as a pack animal. Alpacas are exclusively bred as fleece animals.
Q. Can I have an alpaca as a pet?
A. Most alpacas make very good pets if they are treated well and the owners are realistic in their expectations. Like any livestock, the more handling they receive as youngsters, the quieter they are as adults. Given time, most alpacas will eat out of your hand and training them to lead by a halter is a straightforward process.
Alpacas generally don't like being held and are particularly sensitive to being touched on the head. They are naturally curious and intelligent and if you let them approach you, rather than rush at them and expect an affectionate response, the interactions can be very rewarding.
It is possible to have a single alpaca, but it is not a pleasant existence for the animal. Alpacas are herd animals and are instinctively gregarious, as are other domestic livestock. They obtain security and contentment from having at least one other alpaca for company.
For this reason, it is usually recommended that two alpacas is the desirable minimum.