Saturday, 5 April 2014

Alpaca on the Isle of Wight

The last time I was visiting the I.O.W. I saw these Alpacas unlike the previous time when I see the Llamas. CLICK HERE to see them.  As I didn't know much about Alpacas I had to do a bit of research on them and  I will share that with you and hope you find it interesting.  

An alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small Llama in appearance.  There are two breeds of alpaca; the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.  

An adult Alpaca generally is between 81 and 99 cm in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 106 and 185 lbs and can live for up to 20 years.


Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of 11,500 ft to 16,000 ft above sea level, throughout the year.  Alpacas are considerably smaller than Llamas, and unlike Llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fiber.


Alpaca fibre is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, and sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fibre comes in more than 52 natural colours as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.


In the textile industry, "alpaca" primarily refers to the hair of Peruvian alpacas, but more broadly it refers to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair, but now often made from similar fibres, such as mohair, Icelandic sheep wool, or even high-quality English wool.[citation needed] In trade, distinctions are made between alpacas and the several styles of mohair and luster.


Alpacas require much less food than most animals of their size. They generally eat hay or grasses, but can eat some other plants (e.g. some leaves), and will normally try to chew on almost anything (e.g. empty bottle). Most alpaca ranchers rotate their feeding grounds so the grass can regrow and fecal parasites may die before reusing the area.


Alpacas can eat natural unfertilized grass; however, ranchers can also supplement grass with low-protein grass hay. To provide selenium and other necessary vitamins, ranchers will feed their domestic alpacas a daily dose of grain.  Free-range alpacas may obtain the necessary vitamins in their native grazing ranges.


Alpacas are pseudoruminants and have a three-chambered stomach; combined with chewing cud, this allows maximum extraction of nutrients from low-quality forages.


Alpacas will chew their food in a figure eight motion, swallow the food, and then pass it into one of the stomach's chambers. The first and second chambers (called C1 and C2) are where the fermentation process begins digestion. The alpaca will further absorb nutrients and water in the first part of the third chamber. The end of the third chamber (called C3) is where the stomach secretes acids to digest food, and is the likely place where an alpaca will have ulcers, if stressed. The alpaca digestive system is very sensitive and must be kept healthy and balanced.


Many plants are poisonous to the alpaca, including the bracken fern, fireweed, oleander, and some azaleas. In common with similar livestock, others include: acorns, African rue, agave, amaryllis, autumn crocus, bear grass, broom snakeweed, buckwheat, ragweed, buttercups, calla lily, orange tree foliage, carnations, castor beans, and many others.


Alpaca fleece is a lustrous and silky natural fiber. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and bears no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.  Without lanolin, it does not repel water. It is also soft and luxurious. In physical structure, alpaca fibre is somewhat akin to hair, being very glossy.



The preparing, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing process of alpaca is very similar to the process used for wool. Alpaca fiber is also flame-resistant, and meets the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's standards.  Alpacas are typically sheared once per year in the spring. Each shearing produces approximately five to ten pounds of fibre per alpaca. An adult alpaca might produce 50 to 90 ounces of first-quality fibre as well as 50 to 100 ounces of second- and third-quality fibre.



Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years. The Moche people of northern Peru often used alpaca images in their art.  There are no known wild alpacas, though its closest living relative, the vicuña (also native to South America), are believed to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca.  The alpaca is larger than the vicuña, but smaller than the other camelid species.


Along with camels and llamas, alpacas are classified as camelids. Of the various camelid species, the alpaca and vicuña are the most valuable fiber-bearing animals: the alpaca because of the quality and quantity of its fiber, and the vicuña because of the softness, fineness and quality of its coat.


Alpacas are too small to be used as pack animals. Instead, they are bred exclusively for their fiber and meat. Alpaca meat was once considered a delicacy by Andean inhabitants. Because of the high price commanded by alpaca on the growing North American alpaca market, illegal alpaca smuggling has become a growing problem.


Alpacas and llamas can successfully cross-breed. The resulting offspring are called huarizo, which are valued for their unique fleece and gentle dispositions.


Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups consisting of a territorial alpha male, females and their young. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet, and can spit and kick.

Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. "Spit" is somewhat euphemistic; occasionally the projectile contains only air and a little saliva, although alpacas commonly bring up acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and project it onto their chosen targets. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will occasionally spit at a human.


For alpacas, spitting results in what is called "sour mouth". Sour mouth is characterized by a loose-hanging lower lip and a gaping mouth. This is caused by the stomach acids and unpleasant taste of the contents as they pass out of the mouth.


Alpacas use a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. This behaviour tends to limit the spread of internal parasites.  Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females, which tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and begins to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd often follows.


Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.



Alpacas make a variety of sounds. When they are in danger, they make a high-pitched, shrieking whine. Some breeds are known to make a "wark" noise when excited.  Strange dogs – and even cats – can trigger this reaction. To signal friendly or submissive behaviour, alpacas "cluck," or "click" a sound possibly generated by suction on the soft palate, or possibly in the nasal cavity.

Individuals vary, but most alpacas generally make a humming sound. Hums are often comfort noises, letting the other alpacas know they are present and content. The humming can take on many inflections and meanings.

When males fight, they scream a warbling, bird-like cry, presumably intended to terrify the opponent.


Females are "induced ovulators"; the act of mating and the presence of semen causes them to ovulate. Females usually conceive after just one breeding, but occasionally do have troubles conceiving. Artificial insemination is technically difficult, but it can be accomplished. Alpacas conceived from artificial insemination are not registerable with the Alpaca Registry.


A male is usually ready to mate for the first time between one and three years of age. A female alpaca may fully mature (physically and mentally) between 12 and 24 months. It is not advisable to allow a young female to be bred until she is mature, as over-breeding a young female, before conception is possible, is a common cause of uterine infections. As the age of maturation varies greatly between individuals, it is usually recommended that novice breeders wait until females are 18 months of age or older before initiating breeding.



The gestation period is 345 ± 15 days, and usually results in a single offspring, or cria. Twins are rare, occurring about once per 1000 deliveries. After a female gives birth, she is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks. Crias may be weaned through human intervention at about six months old and 60 pounds, but many breeders prefer to allow the female to decide when to wean her offspring; they can be weaned earlier or later depending on their size and emotional maturity.

I have a short video (if you are still with me n this long post!).

It can be accessed at

http://youtu.be/WVHiWLPjAdA

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.



Thank you for visiting.

Many thanks for those who left comments on any of my posts.

I am linking up this post with SATURDAYS CRITTERS.

36 comments:

  1. They have such beautiful faces - and woolly britches. Enchanting animals.

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  2. Margaret, awesome post on the alpacas. They have the sweetest faces, just adorable critters. Wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing your post on Saturday's Critters. Have a happy weekend!

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  3. I think these animals are quite charming .... until they SPIT

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  4. HI Carole No spitting the day I saw these Alpacas, in fact I could not get them to come near me at all. They stayed at the back of their field. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. They look so cuddly but I know they really are not. ;)

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  6. Very interesting post and lovely photos........I love alpacas,they look so handsome and intelligent.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Happy weekend!
    Ruby

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  7. Dearest Margaret;
    Wow, the alpacas are SO adorable♡♡♡ I never thought them ths CUTE, wonderful pictures and thanks for the elaborate explanation♪

    Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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  8. Wonderful photos of the alpacas and thank you for all the information. I do love alpacas ... smart, clean, fun animals. Happy Critter Day!

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  9. I just love these animals!
    Thanks for sharing these pics with us!
    Enjoy your weekend, Margaret!

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  10. I think alpacas have the most interesting faces and the funniest looking bodies...so cute!

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  11. They are such cute animals. Love your video and all the images.

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  12. So interesting Margaret. We have alpaca farms here in Maine.

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  13. These are great pics, Margaret! I lived in Bolivia for a year, in the Andes. I know that at the markets items made with alpaca fur were more expensive than those made with llama. And the alpaca was much softer and nicer.

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  14. Very nice photography and the story-telling is great to read.

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  15. i adore these animals!! i have 2 farms in my areas, that i visit frequently!!

    they are sweet and adorable!!

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  16. they are beautiful creatures and make a friendly herd. :)

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  17. Great shots of the Alpacas ~ love them they are so cute ~ some nearby here also ~ Happy Weekend to you, xoxo

    artmusedog and carol

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  18. There's a smallholding near us where they have Alpacas. The other day my wife asked me what Alpacas are kept for and I just had to say I didn't really know. Thanks Margaret, now I can tell her and have pointed her in the direction of your blog.

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  19. they really are furry. i guess their winter coats? hope they will get warm weather soon to get rid of the fur for a bit. reminds me of a show i love "McLeod's Daughters" they are from Australia. good show. i watch it from Netflix. makes me want to be a farmer ... live out in the wilderness. ( :

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  20. You are a great researcher as well as a talented photographer! The expressions on those alpaca's faces (in your closeups) are just wonderful. Beautiful animals.

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  21. these creatures get around, we've several farms here in our area and several years ago we stumbled on one of them, I was fascinated more by their teeth than anything else, you've taken such wonderful photos... (ps our neighbours are not adding a rooster, youpi)

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  22. Oh beautiful, and the young ones, specially babies. OOOOOOh. Brilliant shooting Margaret.

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  23. They are cool critters. I once had an alpaca ponco. Loved it!

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  24. That is informative. You managed to get three of them (with three colours) in one frame.

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  25. They're beautiful animals. Thanks for all the info, Margaret, and have a wonderful weekend!

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  26. You got some wonderful shots!!! We have lots of alpaca farms here, and they are so sweet and very curious!!! We like to come and visit right after they have been sheared.

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  27. I giggled when I read the females all visit the ladies room together - just like humans.

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  28. Oh Margaret, what terrific shots of these sweet critters! What beautiful eyes and lashes they have! Such a lot of great information too, thanks for sharing!

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  29. Thanks for all the interesting information and beautiful pictures of these alpacas. The coloration is varied but consistently beautiful.

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  30. They are a funny looking lot, aren't they! We have small farms around New Zealand that raise them for their wool. They seem to be quite content wherever they are.

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  31. They are wonderful critter. Thanks for the info.
    http://www.1sthappyfamily.com/2014/04/standing-cats.html

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  32. I love seeing and visiting alpacas at a farm near us. Your photos are wonderful. I also love the yarn made from their fleece.

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  33. Love your shots of the alpacas Margaret, and such interesting information on them. I had the privilege of visiting an alpaca farm up in Washington a couple of years ago, and they sold lots of items from the wool . Bought a lovely sweater which I enjoy so much.

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  34. I learned so much about this animal from your post. Even in the photos they seem so sweet and gentle. Thank you for sharing the info and beautiful photos of them.

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  35. they really have cute heads, don´t they?

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