KDA celebrates alpacas during July

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, July 21, 2022

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The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Alpaca Association have joined together to celebrate Kentucky Alpaca Fleece and Fiber Month.

“Kentucky’s 4,000 alpacas produce beautiful, soft, cashmere-like fleece,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles in a news release. “I encourage people to visit an alpaca farm to learn about alpacas and their care and to learn about the many and diverse products that can be made from alpaca.”

According to the release, Kentucky alpaca farmers and the alpaca industry add a layer to the state’s agricultural economy.

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“Kentucky’s agricultural economy benefits from alpaca producers because of their focus on fiber and fiber products, agritourism, and breeding for livestock sales and seedstock. Kentucky has more than 200 alpaca farmers across the commonwealth with the most alpaca in Shelby County, followed by Warren, Franklin, and Fayette counties,” the release reads.

The animal has its origins to the far south of Kentucky in the mountains of South America.

“The alpaca is a small relative of the camel and was domesticated by Andean people for its wool. It has a slender body, a small head and big, pointed ears. Its body is covered in soft fleece, and its feet are soft and padded”, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institutes website.

Also according to the Smithsonian alpacas  “were fully domesticated by Andean people centuries before the Incas as a source of fuel, meat and fiber for fabric.”

There are handful of alpaca farms in the area surrounding Lexington: Bright Bend Alpacas (Fayette County), and Foxwood Farm Alpacas and River Hill Ranch (Madison County),