When we think of Carroll County we think rolling hills, farms, cows, pigs, chicken, goats, lambs, but whoever thought you would see alpacas. Now for those of you that are not familiar with alpacas they are livestock native to the Andean Mountain ranges of South America that are raised for their fiber to make fashions such as, gloves, hats, sweaters, blankets, and rugs. And yes Carroll County has about 5 or so of these farms. Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin, is soft as cashmere and lighter in weight than wool. The fiber comes in 22 natural colors and is hypo-allergenic.
Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. Today, the borders are closed for importation. And there are about 200,000 alpacas registered in North America.
Alpacas are members of the camelid family and there are two kinds of alpacas:
Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya)), their fiber is short, dense, and crimpy and gives woolly appearance.
Suri (pronounced surrey), their fiber is silky and resembles pencil-like locks.
Alpacas are docile animals, easy to maintain and today a number of women own these farms. Beside the fiber, they give us their manure which has also become a commodity. The rich beans they produce, creates great compost for your farm and garden and easy to clean up.
Having an alpaca farm myself there is nothing more rewarding than watching a new baby (or cria as they are called) being born on the farm. Alpacas have a gestation of 11 ½ months.
Alpacas eat orchard grass mostly but we add a small blend of grain made for alpacas along with their herbal supplements on my farm. Because I am a Natural Health Practitioner I hold it near and dear to my heart to do things as close to nature as possible.
Their fiber is sheared once a year and you can receive 5 to 12 lbs. per animal. There are fiber co-ops you can belong to and have your fiber produced into clothing. There are mills in the nearby area that will spin it into yarn for you to make your own fashions. Or better yet you can spin your own fiber. Now that is getting back to nature and the way clothing was made in the old days.
I love my alpacas. Our morning starts with feeding and cleaning up beans and listening to the alpacas hum. Yep, that is their way of talking. Ah! Music to my ears. Plus those beautiful eyes that let you know they are so grateful for their care.
Have questions contact an alpaca farm today!
You can contact Alicia Rocco directly at 330-868-5353