Written by Christine M. Irvin
Alpaca’s Provide Rich Fiber and Manure Resources
When we think of Carroll County we think of rolling hills, farms, cows, pigs, chicken, goats, lambs, but whoever thought you would see alpacas? Well, believe it or not you can see alpacas in Carroll County as there are five or so of these farms in the county.
For those of you who are not familiar with them, alpacas are livestock native to the Andean Mountain ranges of South America. They are raised for their fiber to make items such as, gloves, hats, sweaters, blankets and rugs. Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin, it is as soft as cashmere and is lighter in weight than wool. The fiber comes in 22 natural colors and is hypoallergenic.
Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. Today, the borders are closed for importation but there are about 200,000 alpacas registered in North America.
Alpacas are members of the camelid family and there are two kinds of alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya)), their fiber is short, dense, and crimped and gives a woolly appearance; and Suri (pronounced surrey), their fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks.
Alpacas are docile animals and are easy to raise. Besides the fiber, they give provide manure which has become a popular commodity. The rich manure “beans” they produce create great compost for your farm and garden and are easy to clean up.
Alpacas eat mostly orchard grass mostly, but on our farm we add a small blend of special grain made for them along with their herbal supplements. Because I am a Natural Health Practitioner I hold it near and dear to my heart to do things as close to nature as possible.
Their fiber is sheared once a year and each animal produces anywhere from five to twelve pounds. If you belong to a fiber co-op, you can have your fiber made into clothing. There are mills nearby where we live that will spin it into yarn for you to make your own clothes. Or better yet you can spin your own fiber. Now that is getting back to nature and the way clothing was made in the old days.
I love my alpacas. Our morning starts with feeding and cleaning up beans and listening to the alpacas hum. Yep, that is their way of talking. Ah! It is music to my ears. Plus those beautiful eyes that let you know they are so grateful for their care.
Alpacas have a gestation of 11 ½ months. Having an alpaca farm myself, I know there is nothing more rewarding than watching a new baby (or cria as they are called) being born on the premises.
If you have any questions about alpacas, you can contact an alpaca farm today!
Alpaca Spring Valley Farm can be reached at the Natural Approach Farm Store
3944 Whitacre Ave. SE
Minerva, Ohio 446567
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