Alpaca farming in Central Illinois

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 11:40 AM CST
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PETERSBURG (25 News Now) - From a weed-turned-crop to something else you wouldn’t expect -- an unusual barnyard animal. I visited an alpaca farm in Petersburg.

I’m here with Rhonda at Indian Point Alpaca Farm in Petersburg, Illinois at Indian Point Alpaca Farm.

How long have you been an alpaca rancher and let’s learn a little bit more about this animal.

About seventeen years -- this particular guy that we have here this is Excalibur -- he is what you call an Appaloosa alpaca with obviously with the spots -- he’s about a year old.

And share with us are there different breeds of alpaca like there’s different breeds of cattle?

[...] they get like this crimpy fiber, their hair grows kind of fluffy -- a Suri Alpaca has a very slick feel to it their hair kind of parts down their back and it grows like dreadlocks. The yarn made from the two feels quite different. They come in sixteen natural colors, that’s the colors that are on the color card when you go to register them with the alpaca registry. They’re graded by fineness basically -- they are fiber-producing animals. that’s what they were raised for you know in Peru and still are in South America.

There are so many different applications you can do with the fiber you can of course spin it into yarn and then you can make anything that you could make you know from yarn. It can be wet felted or needle felted.

They do look similar to a llama. They are a lot smaller than a llama.

I have a big ole white fluffy thing not an alpaca rubbing up against me. You have quite your own heard of Great Pyrenees, why Great Pyrenees?

A lot of the alpaca farms like the Great Pyrenees as guardian animals -- they live right in here in the pasture with the alpacas -- but we have to worry about mostly here would be coyote or a pack of wild dogs.

You can put six alpacas on one acre of land. They’re very gentle on the land. They don’t have hooves. They have soft pads with a toenail over the pad, so they’re very gentle on the land and that kind of aids in how you can have so many on the land.

My husband does the shearing and then we have somebody usually that’s gathering the fibers coming off the animal. You take the blanket which is your prime which is about the the front of the shoulders to the rump that’s usually your prime fleece down about three-fourths of the way down towards the belly. Then neck and leg fiber would be your seconds -- it’s usually shorter and not maybe not quite as fine and then you’ve got like you know the stuff that you take off the head in the lower legs that’s -- would be like your thirds.

A lot of that I do send to a mill and have it mill-spun into yarn or made into [...] for me to use for felting or for spinning.

We just enjoy what we’re doing -- they’re wonderful animals, they’re fun to be around, they’re calm you know it’s nice to come out in the evening and just sit and listen to them you know kinda hum -- humming is their vocal noise. The babies are fun to watch they kind of go on a little run every once in awhile and will run around the pasture -- but you know as far as the fiber we love what you can produce with them you know it’s a -- they’re just incredible animals.