It is known from archaeological records that alpacas have been domesticated for approximately 6,000 years. Early depictions of the Suri alpaca, dating between 5 and 20 thousand years ago, can only be found on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains of Peru. The Suri appears as a distinct breed in pre Colonial textiles, pottery, and jewelry. The word “Suri” is now thought to be taken from the description of the soft, silky feathers of a South American bird.
Suri alpacas were first brought to the United States in 1991. Importations have brought Suri alpacas from Bolivia, Chile and Peru, giving U.S. breeders access to genetic material from all three Suri alpaca producing countries in South America.
Today, North American Suri breeders enjoy carefully selected bloodlines from South America, providing an excellent livelihood and lifestyle with the beautiful and rare Suri alpaca.
Suri Alpacas, as a rare breed, are:
- Less than 10% of the total World Population.
- Less than 18% of the U.S. alpaca population.
- Approximately 35,000 Suris in the U.S. and 1000 owners.
- Second ONLY to Vicuna as the rarest kind of processed Camelid fiber.
- An incredible opportunity for Entrepreneurs.
What is a Suri Alpaca?
The Suri Alpaca is distinguished in the Camelid family by its unique fiber characteristics. The fiber grows parallel to the body while hanging in long, separate, distinctive locks. Its artistic style enhances the graceful appearance of the animal compared to the soft, woolly look of the Huacaya alpaca.
Suri fiber locks, made up of high luster fibers, drape down the sides of the body in a twisted or flat form of various size. Suri fiber has a slick hand and softness with an exquisite luster. Suri fiber is in demand and consistently brings a premium price in the fiber market. Suri alpacas emanate extraordinary vigor, intelligence, ease of breeding and adaptability to both hot and cold climates. These attributes rank high on the list of many reasons for treasuring the Suri alpaca.
Suri Alpacas are Earth friendly and naturally “Green” Livestock
Alpacas do not harm the environment and are not killed for their fiber products.
Harsh or toxic chemicals are not necessary in the production of their natural fiber products.
Padded feet leave even the most delicate terrain undamaged as they browse on native pastures.
Alpacas are modified ruminants with a three compartment stomach. They convert grass, grains and hay to energy extremely efficiently, eating less than other farm animals per body weight.
Though a constant supply of clean fresh water is necessary, they consume less water due to their Camelid ancestry.
Alpacas usually do not eat or destroy trees, preferring tender grasses that are not pulled up by the roots further protecting grazing lands.
South American natives use alpaca manure for fuel and fertilizer. Now, American gardeners find the alpaca’s rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits, vegetables and many other kinds of plants.
A herd of alpacas use communal dung spots in a pasture, effectively controlling the spread of parasites and making collection and composting manure easy.
A single alpaca produces approximately 5 to 10 lbs of useful fleece per year.
The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America (AFCNA) has been recognized as one of the first organizations to make great use of fleece on a commercial basis, while providing finished products and supplemental income to it’s members.
Since the alpaca industry is relatively new to the U.S., early alpaca breeders had the foresight to create a basic condition for maintaining the value of their bloodstock, namely a breed registry. The Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI) is a state of the art system, created to accurately document bloodlines and provide pedigree information to alpaca breeders. AOBA and ARI have recently merged into one organization called the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA). It is a strong and active National Breed Association with a growing number of Regional Affiliates.
Virtually all alpacas in the United States are registered with ARI. Each animal is DNA tested to verify parentage prior to registration. Alpacas cannot be registered with ARI unless both sire and dam are ARI registered animals.
From the first Suri importation in 1991 until the last importation in 1998, Suri alpacas have been carefully and thoroughly screened by ARI breed experts before being allowed into the country and into the registry. In 1998, the general membership of ARI voted to close the registry to importations. By closing ARI to further importations, the future market of alpaca breeding is protected from premature market saturation. At such time the general membership decides that more genetic diversity is necessary, they may vote to re-open the registry to select groups of alpaca importations.