When we think of farming in Iowa, we generally think about animals such as cows, chickens, and pigs. In a farming state, we encounter these farms every day. Very rarely do we think of more exotic farms such as alpaca farms. There are many alpaca farms in the area, in West Branch, Fruitland, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Atalissa. One farm in Atalissa, known as Grey Farm, breeds alpacas.
Grey Farm has 18 alpacas of various ages. They breed the alpacas and have sold three since they started breeding. They have had two alpacas born since they started raising alpacas. Pat Lendt of Grey Farms says they chose to raise alpacas because of their curiosity and their nice nature.
“I wanted an animal that we wouldn’t have to butcher. I didn’t want to get attached and then have to see them go,” she says. They decided that alpacas would be the best choice because they have a lot of benefits and they will not be butchered.
They also chose to farm alpacas because they are easy to take care of and they do not require a lot of maintenance. They need to be fed and given water daily, and occasionally have their teeth and toenails trimmed as needed.
Alpacas produce wool different from that of a sheep’s. Alpaca wool is warmer, softer, and most people who are allergic to sheep wool find that they are not allergic to alpaca wool. Grey Farms uses alpaca wool to produce yarn, rug yarn, fiber sheets, dryer balls, and shoe insoles. They make these products and sell them at farmers’ markets in Muscatine and vendor shows in the area.