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Wed, Oct. 16

Breeders find alpacas curious, gentle, loveable

Recorded history shows that people first found alpacas in a region of South America more than 6,000 years ago. The furry relative of the llama played an important part in the culture of the Inca tribe in Peru. The Incas reserved the clothes made from alpaca fur for royalty.

Jan and Doug Mauck of Chino Valley started raising alpacas about four years ago after moving to Chino.

“Alpacas are a very easy animal to raise,” Jan said. “I would guess 60 percent of the people who raise alpacas are women because they are so easy to handle and so gentle.

“Doug and I decided raising them would be something fun to do in our retirement,” she added.

Jan and Doug have 11 alpacas at this time, including two new babies. All their animals are registered and and have DNA tests.

One important piece of trivia regarding alpacas is that they are herd animals, so anyone interested in obtaining an alpaca needs to know they can’t have just one. Jan suggests that a prospective owner research alpacas and visit farms before purchasing an animal.

Alpacas are basically raised for their fleece, which is some of the finest in the world. People spin the fleece into yarn and make it into blankets, coats, hats, scarves, slippers and more. They leave much of the fleece natural because alpacas come in 22 different colors.

“We belong to a national co-op that we pledge part of our fleece to,” Jan said.

“We breed to make improvements in the fleece, which is the end product and eventually will have a farm store so when people come for a farm visit, they can purchase alpaca products,” she explained.

Because alpacas are similar to humans in the reproductive cycle, the breeders can pick the perfect time for the babies to be born, which takes 11 months.

“I try to handle my babies as soon as they are born so they get use to physical contact,” Jan said.

“Although they all have different personalities, they are all so lovable and sweet. Alpacas are environmentally friendly because they don’t have top teeth, and they all use a communal potty pile”, Jan grinned.

Jan’s retirement hours are spent in delightful satisfaction caring for her alpacas.

“Alpacas have a very calming effect. I love being around them because they are so gentle and trusting. Sometimes I just take a chair out and sit with them,” she beamed.

To contact Jan for a farm visit, call 636-0782.

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