FAQs

Facts about Alpaca Clothing

1.  Why Wear Alpaca Clothing? Want to know the negative characteristics of alpaca? There aren’t any! There are no negative effects, flaws, or allergies. There are only good reasons to wear alpaca.  Below are just a few. 

  • Alpaca is as soft as cashmere.
  • Alpaca wool is warmer and stronger than Marino woolAlpaca wool contains air pockets in each fiber to create extremely warm but lightweight garments. Alpacas live in an environment where temperatures may range from -30 to 100 degrees F.
  • Alpaca wool does not contain grease or lanolin, so it is hypoallergenic and will not irritate or scratch your skin.
  • Alpaca fiber, also known as alpaca wool, does not stain readily and is easily cleaned.  Alpaca repels water/liquids, so spills are easy to blot up.  Grease and oil do not spot alpaca as readily as other fibers.
  • Alpaca fiber is unusually strong and resilient; it does not tear easily.
  • Alpaca wool does not induce static electricity so it is less likely to attract dust.
  • Ask any alpaca garment owner and they will tell you that this stuff outlasts anything else in their closet; it can last for generations.
  • Want to feel like a King or Queen? Wear alpaca! Thousands of years ago, Incas reserved alpaca exclusively for royalty.

2.  How Do I Care for Alpaca Garments?

  • Surface soil and most stains can be easily removed by brushing with a lint brush or damp sponge.
  • If given a 24-hour rest in between wearings, odors will fall out and they will “iron” themselves and return to their natural shape.
  • You can refresh alpaca garments by hanging them in a steamy bathroom.
  • Many alpaca products are hand washable in cool water with gentle detergent, or even machine-washable on a gentle cycle with cold water.
  • Squeeze the garment gently, do not wring, and blot it on a towel to remove excess moisture.
  • Air-dry alpaca products.  Alpaca products dried in a hot machine dryer will tend to shrink and felt very badly!
  • For those alpaca products that specify “dry-cleaning only”, they do not have to be dry cleaned as often as other garments.  This should save you enough cash in dry cleaning costs to buy more alpaca stuff!

3. What is the difference between Royal Baby, Baby Alpaca and Super Fine Alpaca fiber?

  • Royal Baby Alpaca, Baby Alpaca and Super Fine Alpaca are industry standard classes of fiber and refer the Average Fiber Diameter (AFD) that is used in alpaca products. Royal Baby Alpaca fiber is the finest fiber with an AFD of less than 20 microns (1 micron is equal to 1/25,000th inch). Baby Alpaca fiber is the next finest with an AFD of 20.1-22.5 microns and Super Fine alpaca fiber is slightly coarser with an AFD of 22.6-26.9 microns.
  • Neither Royal Baby Alpaca nor Baby Alpaca necessarily comes from baby alpacas. As an example, we here at Blue Mesa Ranch have numerous alpacas between the age of 2 and3 yr. old that have less than 20 microns AFD (Royal Baby Alpaca) fiber. We also have a quite a few adult alpacas that are from 3-5 yr. old alpacas that produce alpaca fiber that is in the range of 20.1-22.5 microns (Baby Alpaca) fiber. Many years ago only baby alpacas produced this fine fiber however now the quality of alpaca fiber is so good that older animals produce this superior fiber.

Now that you know how to care for alpaca products, let’s go shopping!

Facts about Alpacas

1.  What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?

An alpaca is much smaller than a llama, weighs less than half as much (around 135-200 pounds), and has much finer fiber.  Llamas have much coarser fiber and are used primarily as pack animals.

2.  Where did alpacas originate?

Alpacas originated from South America, especially the high altitude areas of Peru and neighboring countries of Chile and Bolivia.

3.  How long do alpacas live?

Alpacas live about 15 to 17 years on the average, but may even live into their early 20’s.

4.  How many babies does an alpaca have?

A female alpaca almost always has just one baby (“cria”); twins are extremely rare.

5.  How long is the gestation period?

The gestation period is about 340 days, roughly 11 months but may last as long as 14 months.

6.  What do alpacas eat?

Alpacas are grazers, and thrive on pasture and hay as their primary diet.  

7.  Do alpacas bite?

Alpacas only have front teeth at the bottom of their mouth.  The top of their mouth has a dental pad that they grind food against, so they cannot “bite the hand that feeds them”!  

8.  How many kinds of alpacas are there?

There are two kinds of alpacas—alpacas with fluffy fiber, called Huacayas alpacas, and alpacas with silky drapey locks, called Suri alpacas.  Both types of alpaca wool make wonderful alpaca products.  

9.  What kinds of sounds do alpacas make?

Alpacas are generally quiet animals.  They make a humming sound, especially in “talking” with their babies.  They also have a warning cry that they make when danger threatens, and a breeding sound (“orgling”) that males make during breeding.

10. Do alpacas spit?  

Alpacas are very gentle and mild-mannered.  They occasionally will spit at one another to assert themselves in a feeding situation or when jockeying for attention, and if you are in the “line of fire” you may inadvertently get spit on.