Alpacas come in 22 colors ranging from white, brown, red, black and grey. Alpaca fleece grows between 3 and 6 inches per year, and 5 to 8 pounds can be sheared from each adult annually. Shearing is done in the spring to keep the alpaca comfortable during the summer months. Alpaca fleece has no lanolin, and is different enough from wool that people allergic to wool can often wear garments of alpaca fiber. Alpaca fiber is lighter weight than wool, and has extraordinary insulating value. It is a strong fiber that is extremely durable.
We started our herd in 2003 with three fiber males and three months later included two pregnant females. Since then we have added to our herd through on farm breeding and accepting alpacas whose owners could no longer care for them. The herd is now up to 16 and supplies the manure to fertilize the trees enough manure to fertilize our trees and several pounds of fiber to process for additional products on our farmers market table.
Our premium fiber is available as rovings or raw fleece, felted soap, and dryer balls. Items can be specially ordered and are available at the University District Farmers Market.
Alpacas are members of the camelid family and domesticated thousands of years ago for their luxurious fleece. In 1984 alpacas were first imported to the US from South America. They are sensitive to their environment in every respect and are easily integrated into a sustainable farming landscape.
Alpacas thrive on low protein grass hay. They are modified ruminants with a three-compartment stomach that converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals. The camelid ancestry allows alpacas to thrive without consuming very much water, although an abundant, fresh water supply is necessary.
Alpacas do not usually eat or destroy trees, preferring tender grasses, which they do not pull up by the roots. Their padded feet are gentle on the land.
Their dry, pelletized dung makes an excellent soil conditioner when taken straight from the pasture. Alpacas deposit their pellets in a common dung pile, making clean-up and collecting relatively easy.