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Makin' Fiber

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alpacas are bred each year because their fiber is finer when they're pregnant or nursing.
The other reason the females are bred each year is because they're so darned valuable. That was a big eye-opener for me. There  is an alpaca stud named Cantano of Peru who is valued at $250,000.00. Ann told me that prices for alpacas have come down in recent years, and a pregnant female of high quality can be bought for around $20,000.00, down from perhaps $25,000.00 a year ago. It's all about the fiber, folks. Cantano is the winningest alpaca in America, for the luster, fineness, and density of his fleece. Although a research paper published by the Agricultural Issues Center of the University of California in 2005 examined the US alpaca industry and concluded thus: Current prices for alpaca stock are not supportable by market fundamentals; the industry represents the latest in the rich history of speculative bubbles.

I hope not to be around to hear the alpaca crash. The dot-com crash was deafening enough. And that's their opinion, those Californians. We're in Ohio.

Alpaca breeding, ideally, is carefully controlled, to give crias with the finest fiber. A female cria can be bought for about $5,000. The price goes up as the cria gets older. Ann told me that people can buy alpacas affordably if they have the patience to mature them, but it's anything but a "get rich quick" proposition. And an alpaca's value changes every month as it matures or puts progeny on the ground. Understandably, there is a lot of bartering and trading going on the in alpaca world, which probably helps explain why it's such a close-knit (pun intended) community. 

 Last summer, one of the Riverboat studs opened a gate--actually dismantled it--and all the males got in with all the females.We helped, didn't we, girls?

From this one saturnalia, four alpacas came away with unplanned pregnancies; fifteen of the females are pregnant right now. Oh, I'm wiggling with delight at the prospect of having 15 new crias to photograph! They're like liquid-eyed fawns from outer space, wearing tiny toe shoes. Since alpacas gestate for 11.5 months,  most of the crias are due in June (the orgling orgy took place in July 2007).
Crias nurse for about six months on average, though Annie and Charlie like to let the female alpaca decide when to wean her cria. This overgrown cria wasn't quite getting the message from its increasingly irritated mama.
Alpacas don't have a heat period like most animals; ovulation is stimulated by the act of mating, as it is in birds. They tend not to mature until age 2-3. Online, I found details about the male alpaca's wedding tackle that I noted with interest. It's extremely long, thin and prehensile. Ooo. Gotta navigate all that fluffy stuff, I reckon.White alpaca: Did your readers really need to know that?
Zick: PreHENsile??
Alpaca: So I expect we'll be seeing you in July.
Zick: Bet on it. I wanna learn how to orgle.

THIS JUST IN! Click here to hear an alpaca orgling!

If you listen to it for awhile, it is kind of sexy, in a Bogartesque way. Well, maybe a little more Peter Lorre than Bogart. Agggh!

How gorgeous is this gal, with her lustrous dreadlocks? The alpacas in these shots have been shorn at different times, so some of them look all grown in, while others have shorter fleece. They're shorn once a year, but obviously, not all at the same time. More alpacas tomorrow. But no more prattle about speculative bubbles.


Dirty Mike from Dirty Jobs did a little piece on an alpaca farm. Yup, prehensile.

You know, you are just fueling my alpaca farming fantasy?

Never thought I'd get a chance to out-chimp the Science Chimp, but actually, an elephant has a 22 month gestation period, the longest of any land animal. (see wikipedia entry - )

Gestational length is usually linked to the size of the animal (bigger animal = longer gestation) and how well developed the young are. Cows are 9 months, horses 11 months, dogs, 9 weeks.

~Kathi, who knows several interesting facts about various "boy parts," but didn't know about alpacas

Such beautiful faces they have, peering out from beneath those locks--I prefer the unshorn looks best.
Truly unique animals--I appreciate this very informative introduction. I'm probably guilty of passing alpacas off as llamas.

You go, Katdoc :o)

Julie, I think I'm falling in love with them. Can I go to work tomorrow and tell tales about Alpacas and their worth? Maybe. Someone will listen. I'm wondering if you were able to stroke their softness and give a hug.

My aunt gave me an alpaca coat that she must have purchased 30 years ago. It's a lovely light cream color. The coat has held up very well over the years and, in addition to keeping me warm on very cold days, it does well in blocking the wind. I love this coat!

Trixie, I also love Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. A very hunky specimen!

Since I'm a new reader, I'm not sure if you often treat your readers to these extended musings on one topic. To quote my dear father, "I think it's a swell idea." I love learning more than just the little info-bites that we receive on blogs. The photos are so much fun,too.

These posts have been so entertaining Julie, and have made us all fall in love with the alpacas.


Go back to the post!

I just found a soundfile of an alpaca orgling!! I've put a link beneath the last picture.

Clickyclick on the cute fox-colored huacaya and wait for it to load.


The term "wedding tackle" never fails to make me laugh. Add in the word "prehensile" and it's even funnier.

Every time I think of alpacas, I picture this alpaca farm in Cape May on the way to Higbee Beach. It's a good spot for Cattle Egret.

THE ORGLE IS AWESOME ! And so are you, JZ, for finding and posting an **orgling alpaca** and this entire alpaca series, it's great fun. Only here at Blog of the Science Chimp, kudos !

I am having a blast with this. Did you say, "Sexy"? Oh, come on! But I must admit the orgling has some sort of appeal...

I found you by merest chance looking for something else. You do the great pictures and articles for Birdwatchers Digest! WOW! pleasedtameetcha!

Just for your information, if one Googles the word 'bloop' your blog comes up. Thats how I got here.
Yes, its sad.

What's even sadder is that i just posted that comment back someplace in your archives, too. yes, too many moving parts. I'll slink off now....: )

I'm ashamed to say that I'm pretty sure I snore like that. At least that's what I've been told.

Well, it's a good thing my comment is coming right after littleorangeguy, because that orgle is *exactly* what my spousal unit sounds like when he's snoring too! (even the dogs won't sleep with him)

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