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Alpacas are herd animals and require the company of other alpacas.
Alpacas that are kept away from other alpacas can stress or develop behavioural problems.
There are only 2 reasons to hand rear a cria.
- The mother has died
- The mother cannot produce enough milk
Taking a cria away from it’s mother is cruel to both the mother and baby.
It can lead to stress on both animals. Baby alpacas have specific nutritional requirements and should only be hand reared by experienced owners.
Cria should always be hand reared in the herd in order to prevent behavioural problems as they get older.
Vendors specifically selling bottle fed cria are possibly breaking animal welfare laws.
A baby alpaca is known as a cria.
Male – Macho
Female – Hembra
Although the market for alpaca fleece is strong there are a number of factors that determine how much you can sell your fleece for.
- Volume – Processors have minimum volume requirements for processing. You may have to stock pile or join with other breeders to secure a buyer for the fleece.
- Quality – Processors have specific requirements for the fleece they need to produce specific items. They look for specific lengths, micron and colour. They will downgrade fleece if it has too much hair, colour contamination, other forms of contamination ie. vegetable matter and lack of uniformity of micron and style.
- Consistency – Although many processors do blend fleece it is difficult to maintain consistency of colour. Some colours like brown and fawn are more easily blended.
- Fleece preparation – proper skirting, removal of colour contamination and removal of heavily contaminated fleece is important to ensure a quality product.
- Fleece length – overly long fleece and overly short fleece has no commercial value.
- Value – determined by weight and market price based on quality.
- Value Adding – many smaller producers value add to get a higher return from small quantities of fleece.
- Shearing – A good shearer will minimise second cuts and ensure a more uniform fleece length.
The short answer is no. Alpacas are stimulated ovulators and can mate at any time of the year.
Male alpacas have been known to kill or severely injure females from overmating. They also pose a risk to cria if they are left in with mothers and cria.
Yes alpacas spit, generally it is at each other, but it’s not uncommon to get caught in the cross fire.
The most common reason for alpacas to spit is for females to keep males away when they are pregnant, but they also spit to assert dominance.
To avoid being spat at don’t make eye contact.
The average age for an alpaca is about 16 years, but some have been known to live well into their 20’s. It depends on their general health.
The numbers of alpacas to be shorn will affect price. The more to shear the lower the price.
It also depends on whether it is just a straight shearing or if the shearer is undertaking other tasks such as trimming feet and giving injections. The cost can be as high as $50 per head down to around $8 per head.
If you don’t have proper shearing facilities or require the shearer to catch and tip animals you can expect to pay more, than someone who has the animals penned and ready to shear and has sufficient handlers to assist with catching and tipping.
Although alpaca fleece does regulate body temperature, alpacas that carry too much fleece in summer can die from heat stress.
It is also possible that foreign objects like wire and branches can be hidden in overfleeced animals. This poses a risk to both the alpaca and shearer at shearing.
Alpacas can also suffer from skin conditions which may go undetected and untreated if over fleeced.