top of page

Alpaca facts

Everything you need to know about alpacas

From the Andes to Norway

Up in the endless plains of the Andes, the alpaca has to cope with going from -25C to +25C within a day. The alpaca is hardy in relation to climate, but it must have its primary needs covered to cope with extreme weather, whether it is hot or cold.

photo-snowcapped-mountain-ausangate-beautiful-day-with-blue-sky-with-alpacas.jpg

Alpaca facts

Questions and answers

  • Where does the alpaca come from?
    The alpaca belongs to the South American camel family together with llamas, guanacos and vicunas. Only alpaca and llama are considered livestock.
  • How many types of alpacas are there?
    There are 2 types of alpacas - Suri and Huacaya. Huacaya is most common.
  • How old do alpacas get?
    The alpaca has a lifespan of 20 - 25 years.
  • How long is an alpaca pregnant?
    The alpaca mare is ready for mating after 14 - 16 months. It is pregnant for 335 - 340 days and can give birth to approx. 15 offspring during the lifespan. Twins are not common but can be found. Criaen diar (ammar) på mora ca. 5 - 6 månader, men hoppa kan parres ca. 14 dagar etter fødsel.
  • How big does an alpaca get?
    It has an average shoulder height of 1 meter and is about 1.5 meters high. It has an average weight of 50 - 70 kg, the cria (name of offspring) is 5 -9 kg at birth.
  • Can the alpacas go outside all year round?
    The alpaca can go outside all year round, but must have the opportunity to seek shelter from the weather and also have a dry and good place at birth.
  • How much grazing area does an alpaca need?
    The area requirement is approx. 1 acre. In the summer they graze, but the alpacas should have access to dry hay all year round. The feed should have little protein (under 14%) and a lot of fibre.
  • What does an alpaca eat?
    The alpaca eats largely the same as sheep, goats and horses. In the Andes, they have to find water for low food availability and to take care of what they find. Thus they eat almost everything from the plant kingdom! Even if they graze all year round, they should always have access to hay: Hay about 1kg a day on average in winter grass blade dandelions flourishes perennials bushes pine cleaves nettle etc... In winter, you can increase the diet a little with concentrate pellets, but about a handful per alpaca per day will suffice. At the end of the gestation period, they should be given extra food.
  • A little about economics
    As of today, the wool/fibre is traded privately. The price may vary somewhat. Several alpaca spinning mills have also been established. The alpaca association can give advice on the pricing of the fiber and possibly spinning mills that make yarn. There is little agricultural support available, but the grazing subsidy is approx. NOK 60 per animal. The biggest investment in such a project is expensive. A pregnant mare with a pedigree will cost from NOK 60,000 - NOK 100,000 in purchase. The variation is mostly due to quality, but also age. The price of a castrated stallion is NOK 15,000. Feel free to get in touch if you are wondering how much it might cost you to start alpaca farming.
  • What do you do with an alpaca?
    The alpaca has developed into an animal from which wool is mainly harvested, but also meat. Alpacas can reduce stress and are therefore considered therapy animals. - They can certainly contribute to improving people's mental health, say experts. This is one of the reasons why many offer alpaca trekking, which is very popular.
  • Is alpaca yarn as warm as wool?
    Alpaca wool is actually three times warmer than normal wool! Alpaca has many unique utility properties that differ from ordinary wool. The fiber is hollow, it is hair, and it breathes so that it feels warm when it is cold and cool when it is hot. The natural color of alpaca wool can vary between everything from white, grey, beige, dark brown and black.
Alpakkaull

Alpaca wool - Fiber

The alpaca has hair with cavities, hence the good properties. Alpaca wool is three times warmer than normal wool. (On these pages we have used the terms wool and fiber rather than hair.)

 

Alpaca wool is probably the best wool you can buy. Together with mohair, angora and cashmere, it accounts for only 2.6% of the wool market worldwide.


With all the good properties that alpaca wool has, the potential should be great. It is several times stronger than sheep's wool, it is warmer, it does not itch or shed. In addition, it keeps its shape and form much longer.

Unlike sheep wool, alpaca wool does not contain lanolin. It is therefore beneficial against allergies. In addition, it does not absorb odors as easily as sheep's wool.

Alpaca has 22 natural colors with 250 different shades.

The different fiber qualities:

Royal Alpaca (<19 micron)
Baby Alpaca (<22 micron)
Alpaca Super Fine (<25 micron)
Thick Fiber ( <32 micron )

Finer fibre, better quality and higher price.

texture-wool-animal-lama-background-brown.jpg
Alpakkaavl

Breeding alpaca in Norway

Systematic and targeted breeding is the future for alpaca farming in this country as well. In all other countries, the focus is on breeding to get fewer microns on the fiber and increase the amount of fiber per animal.

 

The goal of investing in systematic breeding in Norway should therefor be the same.


The population of alpaca globally is still at such a level that the production of fiber is not yet a large industry, but it will come, the demand is there.

If we want to be able to compete with imports from other countries, we must be at least as good and professional, and then there is only one road that is passable - Breeding. As this globally is at an early stage, here in Norway we have the same opportunities as elsewhere in the world, only if we invest seriously and correctly.

If you are planning to invest in alpacas, you are welcome to have a non-binding chat with us.

Alpakka Norge - Alpakkaavl
bottom of page