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date: 05 August 2020


A Dictionary of Agriculture and Land Management

Will Manley,

Katharine Foot,

Andrew Davis


A species of domestic camelid originating from South America. It is closely related and similar in appearance to a llama, but is a distinct species in its own right, and has two different types: the huacaya and the suri. The huacaya has a tight fleece with crimped fibres growing vertically from the body. The suri has uncrimped, spiral fibres growing out from the body which hang down in locks. Both types are bred predominantly for their fibres which are highly prized; however, they are also used as pack animals, particularly in their native South America. Alpaca farming is relatively new to the UK, with the first imports from Peru occurring in 1996, and it is largely viewed as ‘hobby farming’ due to the niche element of the fibre. However, demand for the best-quality fleece has stabilized the industry and there are now several successful alpaca studs producing quality stock for export. Despite this, however, the majority of alpacas in the UK are kept as pets or companion animals or as part of animal collections. Website of the British Alpaca Society.