Huacaya Alpacas: A Brief Introduction
Huacaya alpacas are a type of South American camelid, similar to llamas and vicuñas. They were first exported from Peru in the 1990s, where they had been bred for centuries. Huacaya alpacas are often confused with other types of alpaca due to their similarities; huacaya alpacas have straight coarse fiber that is crimped (or haloed) along its length, while suri alpacas have curly fur and cria (baby) huacaya alpacas do not yet grow wool or fleece.
What are Huacaya Alpacas
Huacaya alpacas are a type of South American camelid, similar to llamas and vicuñas. They were first exported from Peru in the 1990s, where they had been bred for centuries. Huacaya alpacas are often confused with other types of alpaca due to their similarities; huacaya alpacas have straight coarse fiber that is crimped (or haloed) along its length, while suri alpacas have curly fur and cria (baby) huacaya alpacas do not yet grow wool or fleece
The History of the Huacaya Alpaca
The History of Huacaya Alpacas starts with the Incas, and wild alpacas. They were a peaceful civilization, and they quickly ran out of resources to feed their growing population in South America. So instead of going to war, they started looking for better ways to produce food on less land. In order to do this, they bred alpacas with llamas which both have an extended digestive system that allows them to eat vegetation that is poisonous to most animals. This gave huacaya alpacas the ability of herding with llamas, which allowed for their population number to grow and flourish in Peru.
The huacaya alpaca breed began when they were imported by Spaniards who bred them together with a common ancestor from North America. This began a new huacaya alpaca breed that was not only known for its ability to be trained but also its fleece.
The Physical Characteristics of Huacaya alpacas are a huacaya alpaca’s dense fleece and a huacaya alpacas ability to be trained for various purposes.
1) Their Fleece is the huacaya alpaca’s most valued trait.
– It is used to make huacaya yarn, huacaya blankets, and other huacaya products.
– The fleece can be up to 12 inches thick!
2) They are adaptable to various climates.
– huacaya alpacas can be found in Peru, North America, and other countries worldwide.
3) They are herd animals so they do best with the company of others of their own kind or even llamas!
4) Huacayas live for an average of 15 – 20 years but some have been known to live up to 25 years!
5) huacaya alpacas can be trained for a number of purposes ranging from pack animals, show and fleece production.
6) Size: huacaya alpacas stand on average between 32 and 36 inches tall.
– Huacayas can weigh up to 220 pounds!
7) Colors: huacaya alpacas can be white, black, or brown. Also many Shades
8) Huacayas have a distinctive ‘V’ on their heads which is where they get the name from!
9) Temperament: huacaya alpacas are very friendly and love human company!
10) Huacayas will even sometimes allow children to ride on their back
11) alpacas have hooves, that when domesticated usually need to be trimmed. They are classified as even-toed uregulates.
How to Recognize a Huacaya Alpaca
Huacaya alpacas are the smallest of all three types, weighing between 100 and 175 pounds. They tend to be more inquisitive than their other two cousins; Huacayas want to get closer to you when they’re looking for food or just being friendly. Due to this curious nature, huacaya alpacas are easier to catch.
There are three types or breeds of huacaya alpacas that can be found in North America: Suri huacaya, huacaya huarizo and huacaya lima.
Suris are the largest of all three types with extremely long locks that grow in ringlets rather than spiral curls like Huacayas’.
Huanzala alpacas have blunt-tipped ears while huacaya alpaca’s have pointed ears.
It is common for huacaya alpacas to have a white line down their spine because the fat stored in that part of their body can easily be seen through their skin and lies close to the spinal column, which causes this line.
The huacaya alpaca’s soft undercoat tends to be more crimped than the huacaya huarizo and Huanzala alpacas.
A huacaya huarizo is a crossbreed between a Suri and Huanaqayo, which results in it having similar qualities to both parent breeds.
The Huanazal alpaca’s color is usually black, white, or grey.
Huacaya Huanazal alpacas are bred for their fiber which is softer and silkier when compared to Suris’ fibers.
In addition, Huacayas have a more consistent fleece from head to toe, unlike Huanzala alpacas who have a halo.
People who raise huacaya Huanazal alpacas will usually crossbreed the Huacayas with Suris instead of Huanaqayos because Suri Alpacas have stronger fleece, therefore their offspring’s fiber is more consistent than that of Huanaza’s.
Huacaya Alpaca Breed Profile
– Huacayas have a very unique coat that can be recognized by anyone familiar with alpacas
– Huacayas do not have as much crimped fiber and they also lack Suri fibers, which is what makes them less valuable than their cousins.
– Huacaya alpacas are usually white or off-white in color and have a very soft coat. They also tend to be larger than other types of alpaca breeds which makes them easier to spot as Huacayas because the Suri breed typically is smaller in size.
– Huacaya alpacas population is estimated to be around 92,000 in the United States.
Huacaya Alpaca Behavior Profile
– Huacayas have a very gentle temperament that makes them great family pets or even show animals
– huacaya alpacas are the most common type of alpaca breed in the world
– Huacayas become skittish and may run away from you, which is why it’s important to make Huacayas feel comfortable around you. It can take huacaya alpacas a while to warm up to new people, but once they are familiar with someone they are very friendly and loving animals
– Huacayas will spend most of the day wandering around, eating grass, and resting when given enough room in their enclosure. They are most active during the early morning hours or late in the afternoon when they want to graze on fresh green vegetation.
Facts about Breeding Huacaya Alpaca
1) Huacaya alpaca are induced ovulators which means they are induced to ovulate by breeding. The huacaya alpaca will breed naturally for the first time at about 18 months old but can be bred sooner if necessary. Female Alpacas usually have their first huacaya alpaca between 18-20 months old, but can be delayed by up to five years.
2) The Gestation is similar to a sheep. It is 11 months long and produces an average of one baby huacaya alpaca after about 36 hours of labor.
3) The huacaya alpaca birth weight is between 10-17 pounds.
4) They can stand within a few hours of birth and by the end of their first week, they are going from lying down to standing up.
5) Female Alpacas usually have their first huacaya alpaca between 18-20 months old, but can be delayed by up to five years.
6) Birth Ratio of Males to Females is usually 50/50.
7) One Male Alpaca can service up to 30 female huacaya alpacas.
8) Crias will stop nursing between six and eight months of age.
9) Female Alpacas generally give birth standing up and will stay standing for about 30 minutes.
10) A Female Alpaca Unpacking consists of licking the huacaya alpaca clean, laying down, and chewing on their hair.
11) The Baby Cria length is about 50cm and will weigh between 10-17 pounds, but grows fast.
12) The huacaya alpaca birth weight is between 10-17 pounds.
13) It takes approximately three to six months for the huacaya alpaca’s fleece to grow fully (although it may be shorter or longer depending on care, nutrition, and genetics).
14) Huacaya alpacas have small to medium-sized heads with large eyes. They also have short ears that hang down close to the face which gives huacaya alpacas an innocent expression.
15) The Huacaya alpaca fiber is crimped or corkscrewed, which means huacaya alpacas hair has a wavy pattern.
16) The Huacaya alpaca fiber is also hollow inside like the huacaya alpaca wool on sheep’s coats helps keep them warm in cold climates.
17) Huacaya Alpacas are also sensitive to high temperatures and huacaya alpacas should not be allowed to become overheated.
18) Huacaya alpaca breeders can produce huacaya alpacas of nearly any color, including white huacaya alpacas , black huacaya alpacas , brown huacaya alpacas , gray huacaya alpacas and more.
Huacaya Alpaca Predators
– Andean Condors
– Mountain Lions
– Black Bears
Common Health Problems with Huacaya Alpaca
Alpacas are ruminants and have a very advanced digestive system. They naturally process forages, hays, and grasses that many other hoofed animals cannot properly digest. However, this is not to say that alpacas do not get sick or become ill just like any animal can from time to time.
One common health problem huacaya alpacas can suffer from is coccidiosis. Coccidia are parasites that exist in the soil, hay, and grasses even if it has been properly treated with chemicals to prevent this issue. There are two species of these protozoa that affect alpacas: Eimeria huanacoensis (E. huanacoensis) and Eimeria peruviana (E. peruviana).
Coccidia is spread through ingestion of feces, manure, or contaminated water sources that have been infected with the parasite’s eggs.
After being ingested by alpacas they will hatch in the intestine into an immature form called a sporozoite. The sporozoite will mature into an adult form called a schizont which divides and multiplies by consuming the alpaca’s red blood cells resulting in coccidiosis. In acute cases, it is possible for this disease to kill huacaya alpacas as quickly as within two weeks of contracting it because their immune system has not fully developed yet.
Huacaya alpacas should be at least 12 months of age to develop an immune response that will fight off the disease, otherwise, it can go undiagnosed for a long time until enough blood cells have been destroyed and death occurs.
The Huacaya’s stomach is usually bloated with gas which can be a symptom of this disease and if huacaya alpacas show signs of lethargy, weight loss, and anorexia it can indicate coccidiosis.
Another common health concern huacaya alpacas might suffer from is arthritis which causes stiffness in the hips or joints that will reduce their mobility until they adjust to the discomfort.
Huacaya alpacas should be vaccinated for a variety of common diseases that can affect Huacayas such as pneumonia, rotavirus, and arthritis to name a few. Alpaca owners will also vaccinate Huacayas against clostridium perfringens types C & D if they are an older huacaya because it can be a serious issue.
Huacayas should also have their teeth checked by a veterinarian at least once every year to ensure that they are eating properly and not in pain which could cause weight loss or other health concerns.
Huacaya Alpacas are Commonly Used for:
1) Alpaca Meat
2) huacaya alpaca fiber
6) Farm Livestock Guarding
How do you Pronounce Huacaya alpaca?
Huacaya alpacas – hwak-eye-uh
Alpacas do not have horns because they are from South America.
Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years and they live in herds on the highland areas of the Andes Mountains. Alpacas do not require sheering because their fleece is so fine, but it will need to be cleaned every few months through a gentle brushing process called “carding.” Alpacas are very social animals and will enjoy the company of other alpacas, especially if they were raised with them before being separated into their own herds.
Alpaca huacaya alpacas come in 22 different colors that include white, black, fawn, brown, grey, and sorrel hues.
Alpacas are very easy to care for and maintain because they require less food than sheep, goats, and cows. They can eat up to 12 pounds of grass each day in the summer months; however, when winter arrives alpacas will only need about half that amount. Huacaya alpacas do not like wet grass and they will only eat the top portion that is dry.
Alpacas huacaya alpacas can live to be 15 years old, so it’s important for farmers to plan ahead as their animals get older. Alpaca huacaya farm owners should have a strategy now in place so when those animals reach their later years they can still be provided for.
Alpaca Owners Association is a great source of continued information