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Alpacas grazing

Here is some general information for those of you who are brand new to alpacas.

Alpacas are members of the South American Camelid family. They were domesticated by the ancient Incan's and have been bred and farmed in South America for thousands of years.

They were first introduced into Australia in the early 1800's by a fellow named Charles Ledger, however, the original herd wasn't maintained and they disappeared within a very short time. They were reintroduced into Australia again in 1988 and they have been thriving here ever since.

Alpacas produce a most sought after and valuable natural fibre. It is the only fibre-producing animal with a large range of natural colours. The fibre is soft and warm, strong and hard wearing, and also blends well with other fibres.

Alpacas are well suited to small acreages with a stocking rate similiar to sheep. How many alpacas you can keep on your acreage depends on your pasture quality and climate.

They are primarily browsing animals and enjoy a variety of pastures and will also graze on other plants (they are also very fond of blackberries). As with all grazing animals, care should be taken to avoid letting your alpacas near poisonous plants.

No special fencing is required for alpacas, however some shelter is recommended, especially in case of cold snaps after shearing and in areas with climatic extremes.

Alpacas are shorn once a year. Most alpaca shearers will lay the alpaca down and secure his/her feet to shear, as this is seen as the safest way, for shearer and alpaca. Some alpaca owners shear with the alpacas standing.

Alpacas are slow breeders, with a gestation period of around 342 days and twins are rare. Alpacas have an estimated productive life of 15-20 years.