Aside from being adorable pasture décor, do alpacas have a use? Alpacas actually have multiple uses throughout the world ranging from traditional livestock uses to more modern and creative ones. Let’s learn more about these uses.
Alpacas as meat animals
In South America, alpacas are a staple meat source and is a regular delicacy in Europe and New Zealand. Here in the United States this use for alpacas is still fairly new with many states not allowing the inspection and sale. However, the popularity of this meat is gaining as people are looking for additional revenue streams, becoming more health conscious, and more adventurous eaters in a cultural melting pot.
There is good reason for this use to be creeping into the United States. Alpaca meat is lean, tender, and almost sweet. It is nutritionally better than other common meats in the US boasting low calories, fat, and cholesterol while packing a high protein punch. Many conscientious eaters are seeking it out as alternatives to conventional meats and wild game.
With the rise of the alpaca in pop culture came people wanting to get up close and personal with these quiet and curious animals. The changing agricultural industry has embraced the opportunity and come up with various forms of agri-tourism. Farms like ours are offering tours and the chance to meet and greet with these cuties in new and creative ways. Wineries are now on board and bringing in a historical use of the alpaca, packing. You can find wineries offering the use of an alpaca to carry your bottle of wine and glasses as you stroll through a breathtaking vineyard.
Alpacas as therapy animals
A very new use for alpacas is in the therapy industry. Alpacas are quiet, generally non-aggressive, and have soft feet. Their soft fleece provides wonderful tactile experiences. These animals are being brought to nursing homes, schools, and support centers all over the country. Animal assisted therapy is not a new trend, but seeing camelids involved is. It is reported that they provide physical and emotional comfort, reduce blood pressure, and stimulate bridges of outward communication.
Fiber is still king
The beautiful, silky soft fiber produced by an alpaca is still the number one use globally for these wonderful creatures. Alpacas are shorn once a year which is a necessary maintenance task for their own well-being. This fiber, called fleece, is sold in many ways. Some farms sell the fleece into fiber pools, direct to commercial producers, sell raw fleece directly to local artisans, or the farmers send their fleeces to be turned into various products such as yarn or roving or even finished products like blankets and rugs.
Next week, we'll talk more about fleece, why the fleece of an alpaca is so incredible, and discuss fleece based products. Be sure to like and follow Tiskilwa Farms Alpacas, LLC. On Facebook and Instagram!
Tiskilwa Farms Alpacas, LLC, Tiskilwa, Illinois
(Located between Wyanet, Tiskilwa, and Buda, Illinois)
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CONVENIENT NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS LOCATION
Over 100 quality alpacas for breeding and sale. Located 5 miles south of Interstate 80 on a ridge overlooking the Illinois River Valley, we welcome farm tours by appointment most any time.