Alpacas quite at home in Latvian snow

Take note – story published 5 years and 5 months ago

They may be a long way from their natural habitat in the Andes mountains of South America, but these pictures suggest alpacas are perfectly equipped for a Latvian winter.

LSM's Russian-language service reports that a farm in Bebrene region is raising the woolly animals and they have become such a hit with locals that their home is now known as "Alpaca island".

“They only eat grass, hay and 50 grams of special mineral food. Our alpacas are also interesting because they are long-lived. Their average age is 20 years. These are very inquisitive animals that enjoy contact with people,” says Ineta Zibarte as she takes care of her charges.

The family only began farming alpacas a year ago after visiting a similar farm in Lithuania and being impressed with the animals and their suitability for the Baltic climate.

And the alpacas more than pay for their bed and board, Ineta explains.

"It is a pity that it is winter now and you don’t see how they maintain the lawn. The world's best lawnmower manufacturers cannot compare with them. They love grass very much, and grass loves them. They trim it, but don't uproot it, and so the grass continues to grow very well,” she says. 

The family also enjoys the animals' individuality.

"We walk with our alpacas like dogs on a leash. They even want it, they are all interested. Each alpaca has its own hairstyle. This is such a fad for them. Each one has its own hairstyle, because they differ not only in color, but also in their faces. ”

Yet quite apart from their gardening duties and companionship, the alpacas also contribute financially via their wool, which is on high quality and has hypoallergenic properties. In May of this year, the alpaca were shorn for the first time, but the process of turning the wool into thread is still ongoing.

“Many people are already interested and want to buy it. There is an opportunity to make products and I hope that they will be ready by the end of winter,” says Ineta.

Alpacas were domesticated by the Incas around 6,000 years ago.

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