Local alpaca business grows

Carol Allen raises a growing herd at Eastern Oregon Alpacas between John Day and Canyon City.

JOHN DAY - Eastern Oregon Alpacas owned/operated by Carol Allen began in 1995 between John Day and Canyon City with just one alpaca and its offspring, but today has grown to a herd of around 30, with four more new cria, offspring, expected this year. The majority of her livestock are Hembras (female) with about 1/3 of the herd Machos (male).

Allen's pedigreed Huacaya alpacas are registered with the Alpaca Registry Inc., headquartered at Kalispell, Mont. She's spent a few years building her herd and is now looking forward to showing the animals next spring and finding a market for the fiber.

Alpacas, "ancient treasures" first imported to the United States from South America in 1984, are becoming increasingly more popular in the U.S. They are bred for their fine, dense fiber that ranges from 4 to 12 inches and can be straight/flat, twisted/curled or crimpy/wavy. Allen's alpacas produce 4- to 6-inch-long crimpy/wavy fiber. Overall, the predominant color is white, which can be dyed, and also blends into cream tones and rosy white. Other colors range from black and brown to shades of gray and a variety of mixes such as burgandy black, rose gray and fawn browntones. The fiber can be worked into scarves, socks, sweaters, robes or area rugs.

The animals are rather docile and easy to handle, which could be evidenced in the fact that 60 percent of owners are women. Allen tends to her herd daily and provides maintenance such as trimming toenails, vaccinating and sheering.

Eastern Oregon Alpacas' Web site can be viewed at www.easternoregonalpacas.com or for more information, call Allen at 575-0147.

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