— The Openherd Team

Alpaca Facts

Origin of Alpacas:

  • Alpacas originated in the South American Andes mountains in the countries of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. During the 1980's, they were imported into the United States in relatively large numbers. Now the national registry (Alpaca Registry, Inc., ARI) is closed to new imports, effectively protecting the U.S. market.


  • Alpacas are related to llamas, and camels as members of the camelid family.

  • Llamas are significantly larger than alpacas. Llamas have curved, banana-shaped ears versus the alpacas' spear-shaped ears, and llamas have different kinds of wool coats than the alpacas do. Alpaca fleece has been refined for centuries to create a very fine, single coat that can be used straight off the alpaca without need for dehairing.


Caring for Alpacas:

  • Alpacas need the basic requirements of any farm animals: clean water, food, and shelter from the harshest hot and cold weather. Shelters vary from 3-sided run-ins to heated and air-conditioned barns.

  • Fencing requirements vary depending on the area that you live and how you would like to divide up your herd. Alpacas are separated into groups of males and females so that breedings can be individually managed. For wilderness areas, you may need fencing to keep out coyotes, bears and mountain lions.

  • Most alpaca farms implement a worming and vaccination routine that is suitable to their area of the country with guidance from their local veterinarian.

  • Alpacas eat grass and hay. One alpaca will eat one to two flakes of hay per day depending on their weight. Since they weigh only a fraction of what horses and cows weigh, each alpaca eats a correspondingly tiny fraction of what the larger farm animals will eat.

  • We have found that once the basics of fencing, shelter and water are set up, daily care needs are minimal. Alpacas are easy to care for and a joy to be around.

Alpacas and the Environment:

  • Alpacas can graze your fields very close the ground, but they don't pull grass out by the roots.

  • Their soft padded feet are very gentle on pastures.

  • Alpaca poop can be composted into a product that is very valuable for your gardens and highly desired by neighboring farms and gardeners. Your farm's pickup pile can be a desirable local destination!

  • They all go in the same place! Alpacas go in communal poop piles that are convenient for easy pick up.


Alpaca Fleece and Fashion:

  • Alpacas are shorn once a year in a process that does not harm the alpaca.

  • Each alpaca produces between two and 12 pounds of fleece each year.

  • Alpaca fleece is luxurious, soft and beautiful, and grows on the alpacas in 22 natural colors (more colors than any other fiber producing animal)!

  • Due to its extraordinary soft feel, strength and fineness, alpaca fleece is highly desired from fiber artists to high fashion, and is used to produce products ranging from rugs to yarn to suits and everything in between.

  • Alpacas produce a cash crop: alpaca fleece!


Plan a 
visit to our farm to learn more about alpacas: America's greatest livestock investment!