Updated yesterday at 11:30 am
The cute grace of the alpaca is hard to match. Shy, but curious, he usually greets you quickly with a soft cry. This lament, which goes straight to the heart, is his way of telling you that not a blade of grass will be rejected. This offer will border on the efficiency of a lawnmower, but more ecological and with more charm, so you will have to resist the temptation to take one home. Obviously you won’t do anything about it. Please note that an individual needs an area of 1500 m2 That he is comfortable and that he likes to live in a clan.
While he chews, you will take the opportunity to pet him and consolidate your bond of trust. Although not in the head. Everyone has their own whims, the alpaca’s is to be well groomed, it seems… or rather to have the reflex to fear the predators that attack it from above, teaches us the breeder Mélanie Butcher, from the Bel Alpaga farm. . Against a condor, a coyote or a puma, this small herbivore has no other defense than a spit. However, without an unfortunate encounter, it will be able to live up to 30 years.
It is less easy than a dog, but some of our alpacas can be walked on a leash. It is a gregarious and quite docile animal.
Mélanie Boucher, owner of the Bel Alpaga farm
Originally from Peru, it was domesticated about five millennia ago by the Incas. Their breeding has spread throughout the planet, especially for their wool, which naturally comes in 22 different shades. Patting him on the back and neck, he loves it! –, you will notice that its fleece is as soft as that of a poodle (which cannot be knitted), and silkier than that of a sheep.
As a zootherapeutic souvenir of your charming encounter with this little camelid, a pair of socks would not hurt to help you this winter. The farms consulted sell, on site, artisanal items made with alpaca wool, which the Incas described as “the fiber of the gods.”
More resistant and lighter than sheep’s wool, the wool of this little companion also has greater thermal power. It maintains heat, repels humidity and does not have the itchy side that can be criticized for sheep’s wool, nor its allergenic power. It is rather compared to merino wool, which it surpasses in fineness and occupies second place, after cashmere. At shearing time, which takes place once a year, each animal produces 2 to 3 kg of wool. The younger the animal, the softer its fleece.
A chewable animal
The alpaca eats… um, what? Its meat, classified as lean, is rich in iron and protein. As for its flavor, it would be halfway between beef and lamb. We will trust this testimony offered at Alpagas Charlevoix assuming our sensitivity: we cannot bite the animal we feed with our hands! However, you should know that the alpaca is raised for its fleece and not for its leather and meat. Offering it in the form of sausage or pâté is, on farms that offer these options (including Alpagas Charlevoix), a way of paying tribute to this animal and promoting it until the end of its life.
Five places to visit alpacas near Montreal
A walk around the farm will be an excuse to visit bucolic countryside and the pretty village of Sutton. The farm is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until December. You can show up there without reservation. Admission is $10 per adult and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Includes access to four kilometers of easy-to-ride trails.
Located in Beloeil, near the old town and its attractions, the farm opens its doors to the public every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and contributions are voluntary. At the establishment you can buy hay balls to offer to the alpacas. Private tours for small groups are also offered. The cost of the activity, which lasts 60 to 75 minutes, is $60 for a group of less than 6 people, and $12 per additional visitor (reservations required).
Petite Côte Alpacas
This Saint-Lazare farm offers private tours for groups of 15 people or less, upon reservation. Each participant receives a bucket of carrots and grains to better socialize with residents ($10 per person). Alpaca yoga is another way to connect with them by working on postures in their environment ($20). Unless you prefer the picnic option, bring your food and the farm will take care of the rest ($175).
Beautiful alpaca (and good ostrich)
One visit, two encounters, since the place is home to alpacas and ostriches. It’s also an opportunity to visit a mini-farm that houses chickens, rabbits, goats, turkeys and peacocks. Guided tours are offered year-round ($8 per child ages 2 to 12 and $12 per adult). The boutique is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by reservation during the week.
New Acadia Alpacas
Located in Saint-Alexis-de-Montcalm, in Lanaudière, the farm offers free guided tours, lasting one hour, upon reservation. A portion of the profits made from her store is donated to the non-profit organization Quechua Benefit, which helps underserved communities in the Andes.