Coloured suri alpacas are rare, making up approximately 3% of the world's alpaca population. The suri fleece is a highly sought after natural fibre that can be used in high-end fashion garments. Suri alpaca fibre has un ique properties. It is soft and slippery and has exquisite lustre. Cloth made from high quality suri fibre has amazing draping abilities. There are still wide ranging opportunities for new breeders to enter the industry and make their mark.
Learn the basics:
Alpaca (Lama Pacos) - a domesticated member of the Camelid family
Huacaya - the type of alpaca where the fibre grows straight out from the body in a dense and crispy fleece, giving a "teddy bear" look to the animal.
Suri - the type of alpaca where the fibre grows straight down from the body in flowing, silky locks.
Camelid - a group of animals which includes llamas, camels, guanacos and vicuñas. Camelids are ruminant mammals.
Origins - Andean areas of Peru, Chile and Bolivia in South America.
Purpose - predominantly a luxury fibre production animal. Now also used for showing, breeding, pet performance, companion animals and general aesthetic appeal in the tourism and accommodation sectors.
Size - approximately 60kg to 80kg when fully grown
Life span - approximately 20 years
Gestation - approximately 11.5 months
Offspring potential - on average, one cria can be produced every 12 to 15 months
Minimum number - alpacas are a gregarious herd animal and they like the security of their own kind. They are content in small groups of 2 or 3 but should never be left in a yard or paddock on their own.
Stocking rate - approximately 10 animals per hectare depending on husbandry practices, soil type and the quality/quantity of pasture.
Diet - alpacas are foraging animals. They eat pasture grass, clean hay and alpaca-specific supplements. Fresh, clean water should always be available.
Shelter - required for wet and windy weather especially for young, elderly or new shorn alpacas.
Trainability - alpacas are very intelligent and are easily trained to halter and being lead. They are gentle enough for children to handle.
Personality - unique to each alpaca. Some are friendlier towards humans than others. They usually prefer not to be held on the head and legs. With time and trust, most alpacas will eat out of your hand and accept training for halter and leading.