About Suri Alpaca

There are two types of alpaca; the huacaya with its fluffy sheep like wool and the suri with draping locks of lustrous silky fibre.

Suri produce a rare beautiful fibre unlike that from any other animal. The best known suri trait is the outstanding natural lustre but it also has a beautiful feel.  In every other way suri and huacaya are the same.  Read more about Suri Fibre

Suri2.jpgSuri have elegant long draping locks.

SuriFleece2.jpgSuri have lustrous silky fibre.

HuacayaFleece.jpgHuacaya fibre has crimp like sheep wool

Huacaya.jpgHuacaya have fleece the grows out from the body.


With the better conditions in New Zealand, alpaca here have a lifespan of around 20 years.  This is much longer than their native South America where their life expectancy is between 8 and 15 years.

Females generally reach maturity at 12 months and can breed until around 15 years old, some even longer.

Males can begin "to work" at an early age so should be separated from females at weaning, however most are between 2 and 3 years old before starting duties as a stud male.


Suri alpaca are inquisitive curious animals.  They are intelligent, exhibiting behaviours that make them a stockmans dream.  They will find shelter in bad weather, find the gate - not expect the fence to open for them, come when you call, and look after other stock.

Naturally submissive to humans they are easy to handle, a gental hold under the jaw and behind he ears normally restrains them.  A small pen to contain them during proceedures means one person can do most jobs on their own. 

Halter training an alpaca is easy and recommended for those who have a small number or lack good handling facilities.  You can have an alpaca leading after only a few short lessons and once trained they never forget how.


A fully grown alpaca weighs between 50kg-80kg and is about 1 metre at the shoulder, making them easy to manage and hold.

They have a soft padded foot with two toes, making them gentle on the ground and less prone to foot problems. 

The fore legs move like a pacer with the back left foot following after the front left and back right following after the front right.

A suri head is wedge shaped and has two prefarably dark eyes and two spear shaped ears.  The shape of the ear is an important distiction from the llama which has banana shaped ears.

Alpaca reproductionMagritte_015_crop_sm.jpg

Gestation is usually between 11 to 12 months and females are commonly mated around 14 days after giving birth.  Alpaca are induced ovulators and so do not produce an egg until stimulated by mating, meaning they can be bred at any time of the year.  Females are usually mated for the first time according to weight and age.  In New Zealand with good management females will start breeding at around one year of age.

Pen mating is the most common and successful method of mating alpaca.  Mating may be observed for effectiveness and dates recorded.  Paddock mating is sometimes used when mating on larger properties saving time, but birth dates become less reliable.

An open female will accept the male's advances by sitting down in the kush position.  When a female thinks she is pregnant she will then reject the male by refusing to sit, spitting or kicking him away.  Commonly referred to as 'sit or spit'.

Alpaca usually give birth during daylight hours and seldom need assistance.  Within an hour or so the cria (baby alpaca) will be up and walking, looking to mum for it's first feed.

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Alpaca (both suri and huacaya) are members of the South American Camelid family.  They are a domesticated animal, most likely descended from the vicuna, a wild and protected animal living in the high Andes.

They are primarily farmed for their fibre which comes in 22 natural colours, white through grey to black and many shades of fawns, red brown, roan to dark brown.  It is said it is the only animal to produce a true black fleece.  They also come in multi colours that are often called "fancies" and appaloosa.

Suri Fibre

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