Alpaca fur, or more correctly, alpaca fiber is one of the primary reasons why people raise alpacas. The fleece is comparable to cashmere and is known best for its softness and luster. In fact, it’s so luxurious, it can even be used to produce lingerie. Alpaca fiber contains no lanolin which makes them hypoallergenic, and pound for pound, is stronger and warmer than sheep’s wool. There are two types of alpaca fleece. The most common fleece type comes from a Huacya fiber. It grows and looks similar to sheep wool in that the animal looks “fluffy”. The second type of alpaca is Suri and makes up less than 10% of the South American alpaca population.
Alpaca textile products are recognized all over the world. The demand for their fiber continues to increase as more people recognize their unique qualities. Alpacas are also raised for competition all over the country much like the dog shows you see on television. Their high aesthetic appeal and friendly dispositions are proving to be very popular in the United States as well as worldwide. Alpaca shows have increased yearly since the 1980s. Besides being judged for their beauty, alpacas also compete in obstacle course events. Alpacas also make excellent pets but keep in mind alpacas do not do well alone. To keep them happy and healthy, they’re best kept with another alpaca or in some cases, a pet Llama.
Alpacas and llamas are capable of learning hundreds of vocal commands. Just like other animals, some are smarter and more friendly than others, but in general they are easily trained by someone who understands their ways. Halter training and leading can often be taught in one or two short sessions. They can be taught tricks such as taking a bow and, in some cases, have even been trained to pass out their farm literature at events. Your imagination and taking some classes on learning how they think can produce an animal that is a joy to own and fun.