Select Page


Alpacas were domesticated in northern Peru thousands of years ago. They are a part of the same animal family as camels and llamas. Alpacas are often mistaken for llamas, but alpacas are much smaller. Alpacas first arrived in Canada in the late 1980s. They were imported in groups from Chile, Peru, and Bolivia.

An illustrated map highlights Peru and the Andes Mountains. Surrounding countries are noted including Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Alpacas were domesticated in Peru thousands of years ago.

Alpacas are raised for the fibre they produce. The fibre is as soft and silky as wool, but much warmer and stronger. Alpacas come in many different colours such as white, brown, black, grey, and a combination of these colours. Alpacas usually live 20 – 25 years, and weigh anywhere from 125 – 175 pounds. Herd sizes on alpaca farms in Canada typically range from 10 – 70 alpacas. 

A group of five alpacas stand together on a hill. They range in colours from white to brown.

Alpacas can be a variety of colours.

Two alpacas stand on a grassy hill.

While alpacas are much smaller than llamas (about half the size), they can produce much more fleece. 

An illustration with an alpaca and a llama is shown with information about each animal including weight, size, what they are raised for, what they look like, differences in their fur coat, etc.
Llamas have long, curved, banana-like ears.
Llamas have longer faces than alpacas.
Llamas were traditionally used as pack animals.
Llamas have coarse coats that are less uniform in colour than alpacas. Llama fibre is considered less valuable than alpaca fibre because it is so coarse.
90 to 158 kg
200 to 380 lbs
Llamas are more prone to spitting.
Alpacas have shorter, straight, pointy ears.
Alpacas have a short, fluffy face.
Alpacas were traditionally raised for fibre production and meat consumption.
Alpacas have a soft coat that is uniform in colour. Alpacas naturally produce a fine, soft fibre in a wide variety of colours.
45 to 68 kg
100 to 175 lbs

People often mix up alpacas and llamas, so here are some defining differences between these two animals.

Industry Overview

In 2016, it was estimated that there was about 3,165 alpacas in Saskatchewan. Today, approximately 14 farms have alpaca herds. 

A herd of illustrated alpacas stand in a green pasture.

Alpacas are raised in Saskatchewan! 

Producers are raising alpacas in hopes to build a commercial market for their natural fibres. One group of producers sort the fleece into six classes based on quality. Grades one and two fibres are worth $10 per pound. Grade six fleece is worth about $4 per pound.

Saskatchewan alpaca producers can choose if and how to sell their products. Some alpaca farms raise alpacas and produce their own alpaca fibre products such as socks, clothing, yarn, and more! 

A group of five rolls of alpaca yarn lie next to each other and each one is a different colour.

Many alpacas are raised for their fibre, which can be made into many warm and cozy products!

Learn more about alpacas and the alpaca industry!

Who is Who?

A male alpaca is stands in a green field with a halter on.

Studs / Machos

Male alpacas are called studs, or machos in Spanish.

Two young alpacas, known as crias, are standing in a pasture with other crias grazing on bright green grass.


Alpaca babies are called crias.

A hembra alpaca stands in a pasture while her baby nurses. There is a fence in the background.


Female alpacas are called hembras. They are pregnant for 11 ½ months. 

Animal Care

Alpaca farmers provide the best care for their animals by providing them with nutritious food and clean drinking water. Alpacas have very different personalities. Some alpacas want the farmer’s attention and, when pregnant, will wait to give birth until the farmer is close by. Other alpacas keep to themselves. 

A herd of illustrated alpacas walk towards a farmer.

Alpacas have unique personalities and some want lots of attention!

A white alpaca is looking at the camera and showing their teeth, almost like they’re smiling!

Alpacas are considered social animals, and they are very smart!

Alpaca farmers, with the help of scientists, have determined which types of nutrients and supplements alpacas need to stay healthy, especially in the winter. Things such as vaccinations and vet care are also forms of technology used to help the development and growth of a healthy alpaca herd!

A close-up of an alpaca eating grass.

The food that alpacas eat is important for their overall health.

Animal Housing

Alpacas live outside in the pasture all year long. They are able to live in extreme climates, such as cold Saskatchewan winters. They have a three-sided shelter that they can go in if there is a storm. They are typically fed twice a day, but sometimes only once depending on the farm. 

A herd of illustrated alpacas stand in a green pasture behind a wooden fence. There is a wooden barn in the background.

Alpacas are rugged enough to live outside all year round but need some shelter for storms.


Alpacas provide us with fibre that is used for yarn, blankets, sweaters, socks, and many other products. In some countries, people eat alpaca meat. 


Many alpaca farmers are increasing the use of technology on their farms. From computerized heating systems to surveillance cameras that warn farmers about predators, technology is making the day-to-day work of alpaca farming easier! 

Some alpaca farmers manage their pastures by using satellites that provide farmers with photos of their herds. This allows farmers to check their fences without always going to the pasture.

A herd of illustrated alpacas are standing in a pasture as a drone flies above them.

Farmers can monitor their alpaca herds with drones! 

Phones, tablets, and computers are used to access apps that help farmers track the weather, farm management, and animal husbandry. This is also a great tool to stay connected with other alpaca farmers, and with others in the alpaca industry. 

An illustrated farmer with a cell phone in his hand stands next to alpacas.

Technology such as phones are important for farmers to manage their farms and look after their alpacas.


Alpaca meat is very lean meat that is high in protein. Their meat is popular in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia

Five alpaca steaks lie next to each other on a wooden platter next to a pepper, garlic, lemon, and spices.

Alpaca meat is lean and tasty!