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NRMA Male Fiber Herd

Are “Fiber Alpacas” or “Gelded Alpacas” right for you?

White Male Suri Alpaca Herdsire | Bozeman, Montana

White Male Suri Alpaca Herdsire | Bozeman, Montana

In researching alpacas, alpaca ownership and husbandry, you’ll come across alpacas advertised as “fiber quality”, “gelded fiber males” or just “fiber males”. So what’s up with these alpacas?

These alpacas are generally considered non-breeding animals and can be used for producing great fiber for your projects. A gelded alpaca refers to the removal of the testicles ofthe males so they cannot reproduce.

As an intact male alpacas begins to mature, they will start to notice the females more and more. Then its like high school all over again! Pacing back and forth on the fence line wrestling with each other to prove dominance. We recommend separating these young boys from the girls around 8-12 months of age. Some males will come into maturity quicker than others as early as 12 months. Intact males will have higher levels of testosterone which will effect the quality of the fiber making it more course as it matures.

One thing to consider is not every male is a worthy breeder. In fact, we will use only 1% of the males we have as breeders. Many times we will also use other studs for our females. Studs that exhibit the quality characteristics we are looking for.

Intact males temperament will be a little more frisky especially when near females. All males will develop and grow fighting teeth that will need to be trimmed. Once an intact males realizes he has fighting teeth, be aware. He will use them to his advantage. Always keep them trimmed. It may also be necessary to separate intact males to avoid damage to each other.

Male Suri Alpaca Fiber Herd | Bozeman, Montana

Male Suri Alpaca Fiber Herd | Bozeman, Montana

Please don’t think intact makes are unruly. Just like with most animals, the more you train them the better they will handle. We have also been experienced a group of intact makes get along quite nicely. The older ones are king and put the younger ones in their place. It’s nothing more than herd dominance

A gelding usually will have an even keel temperament. He will not be as interested in the females and more interested in food. Watch out for geldings becoming overweight! Lower levels of testosterone will grow better fleece than an intact males. As described above, the more you handle and train your animal the better disposition it will have.

Lastly, alpacas advertised as “fiber alpacas” or “gelding fiber alpacas” serve an integral part in the future can make for great fiber animals and enjoyable to watch in the pasture.

Alpaca Herd in Bozeman, MT

What the heck is an alpaca?

 

The alpaca is one of four species of South American camelids.

Llama & Human | Montana Alpacas and Llamas

Llama & Human | Packing in Montana

Vicuña - Internet sourced image

Vicuña

Guanaco - Internet sourced image

Guanaco

 

The other three are the llama which is also a domestic animal and the vicuna and guanaco which exist only in the wild. All are browsers and grazers and, being similar to ruminants, chew their cud. They share the camel’s even toed, padded foot and unique style of lying (kushing) down with their front legs bent and directed backwards. Camelids are smaller than camels and lack the latter’s distinctive hump. The alpaca is the smallest of the domesticated South American camelids and is known for its abundant, fine fiber and gentle nature.

Until quite recently alpacas were almost non-existent outside of their native land, and few persons in this country could do more than associate the word “alpaca” with a luxurious type of sweater. Now that alpacas are establishing themselves in North America, more people are getting a glimpse of these delightful wooly animals and are asking questions about them.

A brief look at Alpaca History

Alpacas grazing |  Bozeman, Montana

Suri Alpacas grazing | Bozeman, Montana

As a group, South American camelids date back two million years. Current theory suggests that the alpaca is a descendent of the vicuna with its domestication taking place some six to seven thousand years ago. Alpaca breeding and husbandry reached a peak in the 11th and 12th centuries AD under the Inca Empire. During this period alpaca and llama breeding was conducted by a state organization whose members all belonged to a special nobility. Alpacas were the most valuable domestic animals of the time and were intensively selected for production of copious, fine fiber and for the perpetuation of the species. Through the centuries alpacas have also served as a source of meat and played an important role in the religion of their caretakers.

Two consequences of the 16th century Spanish conquest–the arrival of new domestic animals from Europe and the development of mining as the most lucrative business activity in Peru–drove the alpaca from its pedestal in the Inca Empire and relegated the species to the higher elevations of Bolivia and Peru. Alpaca numbers dropped and husbandry practices deteriorated in the hands of the native Andean herders whose very life was a struggle on harsh “alto plano.” Finally in the 1920’s, appreciation for alpaca fiber experienced a rebirth. By the 1980’s alpaca fiber production had risen to a strategic economic resource in Peru. Today Peru, which has over 85% of the world population of alpacas, considers the species a natural resource worthy of protection.

Until the 1980’s only a very few alpacas existed in North America, and these were scattered among a few zoos and private collections. The brief lifting of importation restrictions in 1983 and 1984 enabled the entry of alpacas from Chile and brought the North American population to some 500-600 head. Another group of alpacas arrived from Chile in 1988. In the 1990’s, alpacas have come to North America from Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and New Zealand. Importation came to a halt with the closure of the Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI), in 1999.

The Alpacas tolerate harsh climatic conditions that include temperature variations of more than forty degrees in a single day. Alpacas have a high resistance and can go without food or water for days. It is a single-coated animal that has an average weight of 100 to 175 pounds and an average height of 36 inches at the withers. They have a lifespan of 18 – 20 years and a gestation period of 350 days.

The Alpaca Breeds: Suri and Huacaya

Suri Alpaca fleece is a rare, luxurious fiber regarded for bright luster, next to skin fineness, cool slick handle, and beautiful drape of elegance. No other animal fiber possesses all these features making Suri Alpaca Fiber sought after throughout the world” (courtesy of the Suri Network).

Huacaya Alpaca fleece should be fine, dense, uniform, and grow perpendicular to the skin. The fleece, which grows from individual follicles in the skin, should be made up of defined staples of crimpy “bundled” fleece. These bundles should organize themselves into staples which create a dense presentation across the animal.” (courtesy Northwest Alpacas)

Weisshorn of NRMA | Suri Alpaca of Bozeman Montana

Suri Alpaca of Bozeman Montana

111913_7956_DDDVR Comet | Huacaya Alpaca of Bozeman Montana

Huacaya Alpaca of Bozeman Montana

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