FAQs

Where do alpacas come from ?


Alpacas are originally from South America, mainly Peru, Chile and Bolivia. But there are now alpacas in North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.




How long do alpacas live ?


Alpacas can live into their late teens and their early twenties. Our oldest alpaca so far was coming up to her 21st birthday when she died.




Are alpacas hard to look after ?


They need to be fed and checked at least once a day and they need certain other routine jobs done weekly, monthly, six-monthly and yearly. Compared to most other livestock and horses, they are very straightforward. If you have breeding animals, your time commitment will be much greater, of course.




Do alpacas spit ?


Yes, they do ... but almost always at each other ! You will soon learn to read the signs. Spitting is generally a defensive reaction and most alpacas will avoid spitting if they can.




What colours do alpacas come in ?


There are more than 20 recognised alpaca colours, all the way from white, through fawns and browns to greys and black. Of course, there is every shade in between too ! Most of our alpacas are a single or "solid" colour. Sometimes, alpacas have areas of more than one colour, some have wee spots of colour, and some have a few fibres of a different colour to their main colour.




Can alpacas really guard against foxes ?


Yes, they can. Alpacas are very alert and have excellent eyesight. Their herd instinct will make them want to see off any threat. There are lots of reports of alpacas stopping big lamb losses when kept with ewes and lambs, and they are sometimes kept with free-range hens. However, not every alpaca is gong to be good at this job - the alpaca needs to be bold and and confident.




Do alpacas need a shelter ?


Yes, they do. Alpacas must have free access to a shelter all the time but they are good at making use of natural shelter from hedges and walls too and so may not use the shelter in every spell of poor weather. As well as in cold, wet, windy or snowy weather, they will also need access to shelter in the summer to get away from flies and for shade. They generally don't like being shut in though, so freedom to choose to come and go is important.




How often do alpacas need to be sheared ?


Most alpacas are sheared once a year, generally in early-ish summer. Ours are sheared at the end of June. There are a number of UK-based specialist alpaca shearers as well as several Australians and New Zealanders who travel to the UK and Europe each year to shear.




Is there a Breed Society for alpacas ?


Yes, the British Alpaca Society is the UK's breed association and it also maintains the Herd Book. All of our alpacas are on the BAS Herd Book and so we know every alpaca's pedigree even if we didn't breed them ourselves.




Why don't your alpacas have eartags ?


Alpacas don't need to have eartags under UK and Scottish legislation. Ours all have microchips though, so they are uniquely identifiable.




What's the difference between alpacas and llamas ?


Alpacas are smaller than llamas and they have been bred and kept for their fine and luxurious fleeces whilst llamas' stronger frames make them more suitable for carrying loads. Apart from size, they are fairly easy to tell apart if you look at their ears from the front ... alpacas have upright, spear-shaped ears whilst llamas have banana-shaped ears. Temperamentally, llamas have the reputation of being much more "assertive" and they are many times more likely to spit at you than an alpaca ever will !




What does alpaca meat taste like ?


We have no first-hand experience but it is said to be a bit like lamb but much leaner. There is no market for alpaca meat in the UK but alpaca meat is culturally significant in parts of South America. It finds its way onto plates in Australia too, generally when there's a significant drought. In our opinion, there are a number of good pragmatic reasons not to regard alpacas as meat animals, quite apart from any "sentimental" ones. Firstly, they are capable of producing good quality fibre for many years and, after their fibre quality tails off, they are likely to be beyond the point of making a good and tender carcass. Secondly, they grow slowly and don't fatten as a conventional butcher's animal would. And by the time they've grown to a size, they would, again, likely to be too old to be tender.




Do you show your alpacas ?


No, we don't. There are two reasons. Firstly, the nearest Alpaca Show to us is nearly four hours drive away in central Scotland. and we believe that that is much too far to be transporting alpacas for such a purpose. More importantly, we don't show our alpacas because we believe that the biosecurity risks of doing so are too great. We manage our alpacas as a closed herd and biosecurity is of high importance to us.





© 2020 by Auld Mill Alpacas
 

Mossend Farm

Mosstowie

Elgin

Moray

IV30 8TU

07773 968979

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