News / USA

    Alpaca Farmer Shears His Way to Success

    Alpaca Farmer Shears His Way to Successi
    X
    Julie Taboh
    May 28, 2014 7:33 PM
    Alpacas ‒ large, wooly animals related to camels and llamas ‒ are normally found in the Andean region of South America. But a growing number of American farmers are finding them just as charming ‒ and lucrative ‒ in the United States. VOA reporter Julie Taboh visited an alpaca farm near Washington to find out why.
    It’s shearing season at Sugarloaf Farm just outside Washington, where most of the alpacas don't seem to mind getting a haircut.

    But whether they like it or not, the 130 animals will have their woolly fleece sheared. It will keep them from getting overheated during the summer months while generating a cool profit for farm owner Kevin Brandt.

    “We’re finding that there are more people in the marketplace looking for alpaca yarns because it’s considered to be hypoallergenic, and it’s really as soft as cashmere,” he said.

    Fleece quality

    Brandt keeps both types of alpacas at his farm; the Huacaya and the Suri.
    An alpaca is sheared at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)An alpaca is sheared at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)
    x
    An alpaca is sheared at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)
    An alpaca is sheared at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)


    “The Suri has the long, dreadlock-like fiber and the Huacaya has the fluffy, teddy bear style,” he said.

    The animals provide three different grades of fleece.

    The finest comes from the animals’ back, hip and shoulder and is usually made into clothing. The next-best grade comes from the neck.

    The third-grade fleece, from the legs and belly, is a coarser fiber that is used for rugs and accessories.

    Spinning mill

    Brandt and his team process the raw fleece into yarn in a spinning mill right on the grounds of his farm.

    The first step is the tumbler, a big machine which removes loose dirt and debris from the fiber. The fiber is then washed and dried and put through the picker to further separate the fibers.

    It’s then ready for a machine which aligns and blends it with other fibers. Another machine thins and lengthens the fiber. The spinner is where it finally becomes a single ply of yarn.

    After a few more steps, the final product is ready for sale, either in its natural form, or kettle dyed in various colors.

    Alpaca sales
    An alpaca at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)An alpaca at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)
    x
    An alpaca at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)
    An alpaca at Sugarloaf Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. (J. Taboh/VOA)


    Brandt sells those varieties of yarn, along with other ready-made alpaca products, in his store on the farm’s grounds.

    And that isn’t the only source of income on the farm.

    “We raise and sell alpacas as bred females. We also sell pet males and fiber males to others. We also have a stud service where we’ll take our stud males around for hire,” Brandt said.

    He proudly showed off Charmer, one of the most popular studs at the farm, who appeared very comfortable with all the attention.

    Happy accident

    Brandt, who has owned the farm for about 10 years, got into the alpaca business almost by accident.

    “My wife Nancy and oldest daughter and I were at the local country fair and we decided to stop into one more barn before we went home and it happened to be the alpaca barn and almost instantly we fell in love with the alpacas,” he said.

    Alpacas are part of the camel family. They are curious by nature and easy to care for.  There are more than 300,000 alpacas in the U.S., but no more are being imported since a ban was imposed in 1993.

    “Alpaca are just a wonderful livestock,” said Brandt, “They’re gentle. We’ve raised our three kids here and it’s a wonderful lifestyle to have.”

    And as more and more people learn about the joy and income potential alpacas can bring, he anticipates even more farms like his springing up in the future.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora