Seafork Alpaca is a small, family run herd of Suri and Huacaya alpacas based outside Bushmills on the North Coast of Ireland. Our alpacas are kept mainly as pets and for their fleece. Alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic, soft and warm and gentle against the skin. The alpacas are shorn and their fleece is skirted, carded and spun into naturally coloured yarn which is then used to knit hats, scarves and gloves. Their alpaca crafts are 100% natural and no dye or chemicals are used throughout this field to fashion process.
Alpacas originate from the high plains in West-Central South America. This area of the Andes spans the borders of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Alpacas are members of the camilid species and are closely related to the llama. There are four species of South American camilid – llamas and alpacas are domesticated and vicuna and guanaco remain wild and are protected species.
There are two types of alpaca, huacaya (pronounced wa-ky-ya) alpacas and suri alpacas. Both can be found in Northern Ireland. The majority of alpacas kept here are huacaya.
Alpacas are generally hardy, healthy animals and are relatively easy to keep. However, it is important to be aware of acceptable ways of looking after this class of animal, including basic knowledge of their nutrition, exercise needs, breeding regimes, normal and abnormal behaviour. Owners need to check their alpacas at least once a day as they usually give little indication that they are unwell until they are very sick and need treated by a vet. Any change of behaviour can be a sign of ill health.They are social herd animals, therefore a single alpaca cannot be kept on its own. Many people start by keeping a small group of gelded males (wethers) or females.
Alpacas eat grass throughout the year. They are browsers rather than grazers, so you can keep approximately 5 per acre depending on conditions. Their diet should include good quality hay/haylage and supplemented with other feeds, particularly in winter. They also need clean fresh water. They should be dosed several times a year against infestation of worms and fluke and require vaccination annually along with a vitamin boost. A regular check of teeth and toes should be carried out and they should be shorn annually. Every other year is acceptable for suri alpacas.
Alpacas can survive cold dry weather but aren’t suited to our cold wet climate. They must have access to a dry shelter/stable in winter and some protection from hot sun in summer.
While llamas were bred to be big and strong, when it comes to alpacas it is all about the fleece. Coming in 22 different colours and all the shades in between, it is one of the softest, yet strongest fibres available and is also hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial. Huacaya fleece is fine, bright and fluffy giving the alpaca a soft cuddly teddy bear appearance. Suri fleece is fine, lustrous and hangs in silky wringlets.