Thoughts from Cindy Harris of Alpacas at Windy Hill as shared in Aug. 2009
When I think of green and alpacas, it usually conjures up either some idyllic image of rolling pastures and lazy days under the shade tree, OR the less lovely thought of partially digested hay and rumen dripping down the side of my face for some unintentional offense I committed while in the vet barn.
HOWEVER……… this time I was pondering the many ways in which alpacas are ideally suited to living an Earth Friendly life. Honestly– it’s nothing to spit at!
Did you know, for instance, that alpacas don’t have to be slaughtered to have value in this country? Who ever heard of livestock that didn’t have to be slaughtered? But actually, especially during this time of growing our national herd, the longer an alpaca is around, the better! That’s an alpaca fleece every year, as well as a cria from every female that lives another year. We’d be cutting our noses off to spite our faces if we slaughtered them right now—we just don’t have enough alpacas!
Alpacas only have a small impact on Mother Earth. They are quiet, and consume far less food and water, pound for pound, than other common livestock breeds. They are modified ruminants, having 3 stomachs, and are very efficient users of their food! Their pellet-like manure makes perfect ph-balanced natural fertilizer. Even at Windy Hill, with 400 alpacas, people are amazed that they can’t smell anything but hay.
Alpacas are also kind to the ground they walk on. Being camelids, their feet consist of two soft oval pads and toenails rather than a hard hoof, so even in wet conditions pastures are not trampled and bogged. Alpacas have no upper incisor teeth, although they do have efficient grinders in the back. Because they cut grass and hay with their bottom incisors against a hard palate, they make sure that pastures will last longer and grow better.
Clothes made from the prime alpaca fleece are mostly hypoallergenic because there’s no lanolin and the yarn is very smooth and soft. We can use ALL the grades of alpaca fleece. Even the coarser grades of fleece, usually from the legs, belly, and neck, are great for coats, socks, blankets, rugs, and upholstery. Scraps from the shearing room floor can be used to insulate outdoor pipes and make composting!
Alpacas are THE environmentally friendly livestock! Alpaca fleece surpasses all the synthetics, and sheep’s wool, too. It’s:
Sustainable—there is an ever-growing American herd on the horizon
Natural—not synthetic and absolutely biodegradable
Renewable—every year there is a fresh and growing supply of alpaca fleece
Durable—archeologists have found intact remains of Incan alpaca textiles
Organic—there is no need for the use of chemicals in raising alpacas or processing their fleece
Recyclable—many an alpaca baby blanket has been handed down through generations of children, its final destination the compost heap to help grow new pasture for the next generation of alpacas!
Alpacas are really the Livestock of the 21st Century!
If you have a thought about this blog… please share. Cindy and I will be happy to receive your comments.