Alpacas are members of the camelid family, which also includes camels and llamas. Their fiber, or fleece, once known as the "Fiber of the Gods", was highly cherished by the Inca nation. It is the silky fiber, often compared to cashmere, that is the principal draw of the alpaca. There are two breeds of alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wa-ki-ah) and Suri (sur-rey). The primary difference between Suris and Huacayas is the fiber characteristics. Suri fiber looks like "pencil-locks", while the Huacaya fiber appears full and fluffy. Here at Harmony Ridge we are focusing on Huacayas.
The natural habitat of the alpaca is the Andes mountain ranges of South America. The largest alpaca populations reside in Peru, Chile and Boliva. Newer populations are being developed in Australia, New Zealand, and since 1984, the United States.
Having three stomachs alpacas are considered ruminates, as they chew their cud similar to cattle. Grazing animals, they normally eat pasture grasses and hay, making them relatively inexpensive to raise. Unlike cattle, alpacas have soft padded feet, making them gentle on their pastures. Fencing requirements are normally minimal, but in areas of coyote and pack dogs better fencing is highly recommended.
These extremely docile animals are an excellent means to teach young children about farming. Having no top teeth in the front, they tend not to bite. With an average height of 36" at the withers (shoulders), and weighing on average from 150 to 175 pounds, these animals are by no means menacing. In fact, these gentle animals are easily handled and they are even small enough to travel in a minivan for short distances.
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Oak Hill, OH (740) 288-0780
Southern Ohio Alpacas!
Harmony Ridge Farms
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