The Benefits of Alpaca Fiber

Alpaca Fiber is truly a blessing to wear.  Once considered only worthy of royalty, now it is available to the masses.  We think that alpacas and alpaca fiber are amazing! 

Below are our top 10 reasons why we love this amazing fiber:

  1.  Alpaca Fleece is 30% warmer than the wool from most breeds of sheep.
  2. In general, alpaca fleece is stronger, lighter, and more resilient than wool.
  3. It is hypoallergenic, meaning it does not irritate your skin.  Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin.
  4. It is odor resistant.
  5. There are 22 natural alpaca colors; it can easily be dyed other colors.
  6. It is naturally water resistant.
  7. It is a renewable fiber.
  8. It is flame resistant.
  9. It looks and feels amazing.

See for yourself how incredible this eco-friendly fiber is. We have a large assortment of products to choose from.

Yes, Alpacas Have Best Friends

I am writing about a topic that not many people think about – Alpacas having best friends.  I spend a lot of time working with and hanging out with my alpacas.  I know who they like and who they would rather not have in their field.  Just like people and dogs, alpacas have wide variations in their personalities.  Mardi Gras and Mercy are my party girls –  Angel, Mercys daughter,  is too.  Glinda likes to be impish whereas her daughter Lilah likes to do everything perfectly.  Lilah would never even think about behaving in a silly manor like her mom.  That is just beneath her.  Sometimes it is very easy to see why two alpacas have become such good friends, such as similar personality.  Other times, you are left scratching your head as to why they hang out.

Gabriel and Perkins are best friends

If you watch the alpacas, it is easy to spot the best friends.  Just look at how closely Gabriel and Perkins stand next to one another in this photo.  They literally are touching.  It’s similar to humans; best friends are always together and feel comfortable being in very close proximity with one another.  With both people and animals, non-verbal communication always tells you what is going on. This makes it really easy to spot the friendships.

Bella and Tessa have been best friends for a long time now.  It was a really easy friendship to spot, they are almost always together.  They both love to roll in the mud and get completely dirty.   They seem to enjoy it more than the other alpacas.  They also enjoy being sprayed by the water hose in the summer – although Tessa definitely enjoys it more than Bella.  Both are very smart girls who easily communicate with me what is going on in the field.  Tessa is in charge of the field and Bella is in charge of who is walking with customers for the day.  They both take their jobs very seriously.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t like to have fun when the work day is done.

Just as they have alpacas that they prefer, they have alpacas that they would prefer not to be near.  I have had Oorah walk out of the field as I open the gate because he was mad at someone in his field.  (For the record, he is one of the few alpaca allowed to do that on the farm.)  He had enough and wanted to be in another field.  I let him.  I have had a few occasions when I needed a little space of my own from people – I knew how he felt.

Even you might have picked up on friendships when you come to the farm or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.  When I take pictures the “besties” are usually standing near one another.   Think about  how many pictures that I post contain both Lilah and Angel?  They have been best friends since birth.  Though I will say that Lilah sometimes questions her choice as best friend.  Straight laced Lilah with party girl Angel, they are a very funny combo.  I do believe it is a friendship that will last a lifetime however.Angel and Lilah best alpaca friends

Next time you are at the farm, especially if it is a quiet day, watch how the alpacas interact with one another.  You will notice new things every time.  Forest kisses his children when they walk by, Mercy is friends with Gizmo the pig, Bella and Lily are good friends and like to stop to see one another when they are out of their fields.  Most of all you will see who is hanging out with their best friend enjoying life.

The Art of Alpaca Farming

Alpacas in a field in Dutchess County NY

When people think of Dutchess County, NY they often think of scenic views with lush fields, deep woods, and babbling streams as well as its delicious restaurants and delightful specialty stores.  Few realize that Dutchess County also has alpaca farms where residents can interact with alpacas and buy goods made from their fiber.  Alpacas are adorable, friendly animals that resemble llamas.  They are fiber animals – their fiber is used to create a variety of products, including hats, blankets, sweaters, purses, socks and boot inserts.

Only a limited number of farms raise alpacas in New York.  Since fiber is particularly important, farmers need to be very selective when choosing alpacas to breed.  They attend shows all over the country to identify alpacas with the highest quality of fiber.  Alpacas come in 22 official colors although specialty colors, such as champagne and maroon, are also possible.  This allows for a variety of color options for products without having to dye the fiber.  The fiber from alpacas is hypoallergenic, warmer than wool, and odor resistant.

Alpaca’s have their fiber shorn once a year usually in the Spring.  The fiber is then sorted into categories and cleaned of all debris.  The fiber can then be used in a variety of ways – often to produce yarn and / or clothing.  The blankets (the fiber on the midsection) are used  in knitwear whereas thirds are used in items such as boot inserts or purses.  Typically, an average alpaca produces 5 – 10 pounds of fiber.

Alpaca’s generally give birth to one baby, called a cria.  Gestation takes 11.5 months.  Pregnancy is confirmed with a spit test.  When a female isn’t interested in breeding because she is already pregnant, she spits at the male to tell him to go away.  While they are not 100% accurate, they are a very good indicator if an alpaca is pregnant.  Cria usually weigh  between 10- 20 pounds.   In the Northeast, cria are usually born between May – September.  Ours are due between May – July this year.

Alpaca farmers provide their herds with grain, hay and plenty of fresh water.  They live in barns or run-in sheds and they enjoy spending time outdoors.  They generally prefer winter to summer – they need fans to keep cool in the summer.  Typically farmers have at least an acre for every  10 alpaca so they have room to graze.  Alpacas are naturally pack animals and enjoy being around other alpacas.  You should never have just one alpaca.

Alpacas are naturally docile and curious.  They can be skittish if startled upon encountering a large group or an unknown circumstance.  However, if they are worked with at an early age, most are very friendly and will even let people walk them on leads.  They seem to recognize repeat visitors and often come to greet them.

This article originally appeared in The Art of ….. digital magazine

Article by Diana Bellissimo