For thousands of years, humanity has utilized llamas and alpacas for transport and fleece manufacturing.
Today, people continue to benefit from these animals. They are still used by some Latin American natives as farm animals by aiding in transport, producing milk or meat, and, of course, fiber used for clothing.
Their wool has now become a sustainable trend in clothing and fashion accessories.
When shopping for clothes or textiles, you may come across those made from the wools of these amazing animals.
But what is their difference?
In this article, we will discuss the following.
- What is a llama?
- What is an alpaca?
- What is their relationship with us humans?
- How are they similar to one another?
- How are they different from one another?
- Which of them produces better material for clothing?
Let’s dive in.
What is a llama?
The llama is a domestic South American camelid that has been widely utilized by Andean societies from the Pre-Columbian era.
Llamas are gregarious creatures that live in groups called herds. Llamas' wool is fine and has only a trace of lanolin.
With a few repetitions, they may learn simple tasks. They can carry roughly 25–30% of their body weight in a load for 8–13 km.
Llamas have a wonderful undercoat that can be utilized to make handicrafts and clothing.
Also, rugs, wall hangings, and lead ropes are made from the rougher outer guard hair.
The fiber is available in a variety of colors, including white, gray, reddish-brown, brown, dark brown, and black.
What is an alpaca?
The alpaca (Lama pacos) is a type of camelid mammal native to South America.
It is related to, and frequently misidentified with, the llama. Alpacas, however, are frequently considerably smaller than llamas.
The two creatures can crossbreed effectively as they are closely related. But unlike llamas, alpacas were bred specifically for their fiber rather than as working animals.
Alpaca fiber, like sheep's wool, is used to make knitted and weaved products. Blankets, sweatshirts, hats, mitts, scarves, ponchos and a vast variety of fabrics are made from this wool in Latin America.
The fiber is available in more than 52 native hues as categorized in Peru. It is available in 12 colors in Australia, and 16 in the United States.
In the textile industry, "alpaca" refers largely to the hair of Peruvian alpacas.
Alpaca fleece is a desirable commodity since it is soft and resistant to water and fire.
Alpacas are shorn once a year, in the spring. Each shearing yields 2.3 to 4.5 kg of wool per alpaca.
An adult alpaca may produce between 1.4 and 2.6 kg of first-quality fiber. They can also produce between 1.4 and 2.8 kg of second-quality and third-quality wool.
The crimpiness of alpaca fiber determines its quality. Generally, the more tiny folds there are in the fiber, the higher the grade.
What are their similarities and differences?
Both species are native to Peru and Bolivia and are members of the Camelidae family of camels.
2 of the 4 lamoid species are alpacas and llamas while the other two, vicuña and guanaco, are their wild relatives. Surprisingly, all four species can interbreed and produce fruitful offspring.
While they are frequently confused, alpacas and llamas differ significantly.
The most noticeable physical distinctions among alpacas and llamas include their sizes, hair, and face forms. They also differ in temperament, which influences how people have employed them over time.
The size disparity between the two creatures is the most striking.
Alpacas are smaller, standing roughly 90 cm tall at the shoulder and weighing around 55 and 65 kg. Llamas are the largest lamoid, measuring around 120 cm at the shoulders and weighing about 113 kg.
As a result, llamas are much larger than their cousins.
Additionally, these animals’ faces are different from each other.
Alpacas have narrow, blunt cheeks with short ears, but llamas have longer faces with banana-sized ears.
Their hair is also a distinguishing feature.
Alpacas feature shaggy hair which is utilized to produce fleece. Their hair color might range from white to light yellow to brown to black.
Llamas have coarser hair and inferior wool, but some farmers are attempting to develop a variety with finer, gentler hair.
Llamas are commonly used as pack animals by humans because they can bear a large amount of weight. In a day, the average llama can carry 45 to 60 kg for up to 30 km.
While they are generally friendly creatures, llamas sometime have a bad reputation because, when overburdened or mistreated, they retaliate. They can spit, kick or lie down and refuse to move or work.
Alpacas, on the other hand, are more cautious. They prefer to remain with their herd.
But llamas can be used to protect livestock such as alpacas and sheep.
Which of them produces better material for clothing?
If you have read through the entire article before this section, you can simply say that alpacas produce better material for clothing and fashion.
This is why at Handmade by Marion, we use only a top-quality alpaca wool and blends for our products.
We sell gloves, socks, headbands, face masks, pillowcases, a variety of ponchos, accessories and more. These products are handmade with high-grade Peruvian alpaca wool.