Alpacas in the United States

Alpacas arrived in the U.S. in a “short” window of time between  1984-1998.  They were carefully selected from the South American herds.  After that the U.S. shut down any more importation. Each animal was issued a pedigree registration number and certification,  and DNA blood testing is performed to ensure accuracy of lineage in each newly born alpaca.

They are a camelid and two kinds of alpacas: huacaya (fluffy teddy bear look) and the suri (long penciled “dreadlocks”). Some close relatives of the alpaca are the vicuna, guanacos, llamas and huarizo (offspring of a male llama, female alpaca).

Camelids can be found throughout the world. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia are examples.   Alpacas are a modified/pseudoruminant with a three compartment stomach instead of four (i.e,cattle, goats, sheep, deer).

In the United States the fiber industry is being developed and several mills have been started to process the camelid fibers into yarns or clothing.  All fiber can be used, but the identified coarseness determines how the product is used (fine clothing, socks, mittens, or  rugs, etc.)  Breeding for improved fiber is a goal of most alpaca owners and breeders.

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