top of page


Alpacas are social herd animals, that are gentle in nature, curious, inquisitive and intelligent. Below is some more general information about Alpacas from our experiences.

We also have a FAQ section at the bottom of the page, however if there is anything else that you would like to know, please don't hesitate to get in touch.



Alpacas are a species of South American camelid, closely related, but smaller, than the llama.

Alpacas were domesticated from their wild relative, the vicuña to produce fine fleece.

There are two breeds of alpaca, the Huacaya and Suri.

The Huacaya is more common  and distinguished by their thick, soft fleece that gives them a well-rounded appearance.

Suri fibre is silkier and more lustrous than that of the Huacaya, as well as being longer.

Huacaya and Suri.jpg



Alpaca Heritage


Alpacas are herbivores, and eat mostly grass, but also leaves and stems.

Our animals also have access to hay and we feed them a little pelleted alfalfa and vitamin/mineral supplements to keep them healthy.

Alpaca Food


One of the first things people often notice is a soft ‘mmm’ sound, they make when communicating with other members of the herd.


Try having a conversation with one - great fun.

They can also make a shriek if they are excited or spot danger.

One of the strangest noises they make is the ‘orgling’ sound they make during mating. It is very difficult to describe and has to be heard to be believed.

Alpaca Noises


They are sheared in late spring to relieve them of their wonderfully warm and luxurious fleeces. We have this is done by a professional team picked for their concern for the animals welfare. 

Alpaca Shearing


Many people ask about alpacas spitting. Alpacas spit when they are distressed or threatened or arguing over food, but rarely spit at people. 

They have 3  types of spit.


  • A dry spit: given as a sign of unhappiness, or a warning you are too close.

  •  A wet spit: that you see when there are arguments over food and increasing distress.

  • A full spit: is the regurgitation of stomach contents during extreme distress and anger. It is smelly and green and can result in the 'spitter' losing control of their bottom lip!


Alpaca Spitting


Alpacas in a herd all use the same area as a bathroom instead of defecating in random areas like many animals do. This behaviour may help control parasites, but it also makes cleaning the pasture, stalls and barns much easier!

Alpaca Toilet Habbits


Alpacas breed once a year, and after a gestation period of 335 to 355 days (11.5 months) the female gives birth to just one offspring called a cria.


The female has the ability to delay implantation of the embryo after fertilisation and so gestation length can vary.


Four weeks after mating the male can be reintroduced to the female where she either allows a re-mating or she spits at him and refuses to sit. The ‘spit off’ is a good indication that the hembra is pregnant.


In the Andes the nights can be extremely cold. Crias are usually born before 2.00pm, so they have a chance to recover from the birth, get some milk and move about before the cold night sets in.

Cria weigh 8 to 9 kg (13 – 18 lbs) when born and a mature alpaca weighs 60 to 90 kg (132 to 198 lbs) and is 85 to 95cm tall at withers (top of the front shoulder).

The cria is weaned at 6 to 8 months and females are ready to reproduce at 12 to 24 months.


Males take a bit longer to mature and are ready to mate at 30 to 36 months.


Alpacas can live for over 20 years.

Alpaca Reproduction


The most common alpaca fleece colours are: White, Beige (Light ,Medium, Dark),

Fawn (Light ,Medium, Dark), Brown (Light ,Medium, Dark). Grey (Light ,Medium, Dark), Rose Grey / Roan, Bay Black, True Black, Fancy, Appaloosa.


Alpaca Terminology

Agist: Where people pay to board their alpacas at another farm.

Body Score: By using a hand on the back of the alpaca, we can assess an alpaca’s weight and condition by a manual measurement. Scoring between 1-5.  The open hand with thumb extended should form a concave “v” for a score 3 on the scale.  A sharp angled “v” is assessed as a score of 1 to 2 which indicates an underweight animal that many have a health problem.  An overweight animal shows via a flattened “v” scoring a 4 to 5.


Calving: giving birth, also known as unpacking.

Cria: is the term for any camelid that is less than 1 year old. A baby alpaca (Spanish for creation). Crias normally weigh 6 to 8kg (13 – 18 lbs) at birth.


Crimp:  refers to the wave like appearance in huacaya alpaca fibre. As the fibre is tensioned the length of the staple is seen to extend in length. The greater the crimp the longer the staple.

Cush or Kush: When the alpaca sits with its legs folded under its body and goes down onto the ground, the position is called a cush. They may do this to rest or keep warm. It is also the position for a receptive female for breeding. They may also do it when they object to something (like having feet trimmed or medicines administered.

Dam: The mother of a cria  

Fibre: The fleece or wool  

Gelding: is a castrated male alpaca. If a male is not of breeding quality it can be gelded between age of 18-24 months. This can also help to keep the fibre quality stable.

Gestation: The hembra carries the cria for 11 to 11.5 months. Alpacas generally have single cria. Twins are very rare. Females in good health produce one cria per year. A female can be re-mated 12 to 14 days after giving birth. Cria are generally born in daylight hours and usually between the hours of 7am to 2pm.

Guanaco: is a member of the camelid family, sometimes called the “wild llama” It is becoming increasingly endangered.

Guard Hair: is the longer coarser, almost “prickly” secondary fibre found in the camelid fleeces. A really top quality fleece has very little guard hair in it.

Hembra: a breeding female alpaca,  reproduces between  approximately 1.5 to 19 years.

Herdsire: is a male alpaca that has produced offspring. Often referred to as ‘proven’ Reproductive life between approximately 2.0 to 18 years

Huacaya: (Pronounced Wa-Ky-Ya) An alpaca breed of known for their soft, crimped, woolly, fleece.  

Humming: The noise alpacas make to communicate with each other.

Lustre:  The sheen caused by the reflection of light off the fibre or fleece of an alpaca, It is a sought after trait.

Macho:  A male alpaca.

Maiden: A female alpaca that has not yet given birth to a cria (usually under 2 years of age.)

Micron (µ): there are 1,000 microns in a millimetre. It is used to measure fibre diameter and describe fibres fineness.

Orgle: Is the unusual sounds made by machos before and during breeding. 

Parasite: A creature that infests another animal. It may be internal ( e.g. worms and flukes) or external (e.g. Mites) and may warrant medical treatment. Alpacas in UK are usually routinely treated to prevent parasitic infestations

Prime Fleece: is usually the best fibre on the alpaca. It occurs in what is referred to as the ‘blanket’ (over the back and sides) of the alpacas fleece.


Proven: An alpaca which has successfully produced live offspring.

Sire: The father of an alpaca.

Staple: A cluster of individual fibres that appear to grow together in a clump. 

Staple Length: The length of a staple from a fleece that gives an indication of the thickness of a shorn alpaca fleece.

Stud: Herdsire – an intact Male alpaca used for breeding, usually due to his qualities and heritage.



Suri: A rarer breed of alpaca in the UK, recognized for a fleece arranged in silky twisted locks of heavier, lustrous fibre. There are different styles of staple structure within a fleece. A suri with a good fleece should have fibre on the neck which is cool to the touch!

Vicuna: An ancestor of the alpaca from South America, a wild camelid with the most luxurious fibre of all animals.

Weanling: Crias (babies) are weaned, separated from their mothers as they are no longer dependant on mothers milk,  between 5 and 6 months of age. From that point they can live independently in groups of males or females.

Wether: A castrated male alpaca.

bottom of page