Alpaca are members of the camelid family which includes llamas, vicuña, and distantly, the dromedary (one-humped) and bactrian (two-humped) camels. Alpacas are distinguished from their llama relatives by their shorter stature and gentler demeanor. Alpaca have been domesticated for over 3,000 years. Unlike llamas, alpaca breeding focused on producing high-quality fiber animals rather than beasts of burden.
Alpacas are sheared each spring before the warm months arrive. Allen's Ridge Ranch raises Hyacaya alpacas. Hyacayas differ from their Suri cousins by the way their fiber is arranged. Suri's have long locks while Hyacayas grow wooly felt. Alpaca fiber can be spun, carded, woven, knitted, or blended with other fibers.
An expertise in genetics is vital to breeding desired fiber traits and colors. The grey fiber color is a recessive trait. Allen's Ridge specializes in rose grey, blue grey, and black alpacas.