Love at first sight. That was me and the alpaca. “If we ever purchase land, we’re getting alpacas,” I told my husband.
Fast forward quite a few years, and I still don’t have any alpacas. Some of my characters, however, do own alpacas.
Facts about farming alpacas:
1. They’re closely related to the llama, although they’re not as large.
2. They are grazers. While they can survive in harsh conditions, they do better with quality pasture or hay.
3. Fencing suitable for sheep works for alpacas. While they don’t tend to jump, if they’re stressed by for example a dog, they’re very capable of leaping over a fence.
4. They should have trees for shade.
5. They require fresh drinking water.
6. Shearing takes place once a year, usually during the spring.
7. Most alpacas are shorn while lying down. They are shorn on one side and turned over to complete the shearing.
8. Alpaca fleece is soft and durable and highly prized.
9. Alpacas come in many colors—white, fawn, brown, gray and black. Their color does not usually change as they age.
10. They are usually fairly disease free.
11. They make good pets although they don’t generally enjoy being held, especially on the head.
12. Alpacas do not usually bite or kick, but it can depend on the individual animal.
13. They do, however, spit. The spit is regurgitated or recently chewed grass, and it’s normally stinky.
14. Alpacas are herd animals and do better with company. They can be run with sheep or goats, but they prefer other alpacas for company.
15. Gestation is 11.5 months. The cria is around 6 – 8 kilograms at birth and stay with their mother for around 5 – 6 months.
16. They seldom have twins.
17. High quality breeding alpaca can be very expensive.
Dillon Williams from Stranded with Ella farms alpacas. Ella, the heroine of Stranded with Ella is learning to spin. She wants to spin alpaca fleece rather than sheep’s wool.
Stranded with Ella is book 4 in the Military Men series, and can be read as a stand-alone.