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Made in the Midwest: Northern Sky Alpaca

Updated: 11/13/2013 6:36 PM
Created: 11/13/2013 5:48 PM KSTP.com
By: Sean Boswell

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- There are less than 400,000 registered alpacas in the U.S.

“It doesn’t matter what time of day, I can go out in the barn and the animals have a similar sound to what you would hear a whale sound at night, clicking and humming,” said Laurie Weed, owner of Northern Sky Alpaca in Dodge Center.

Alpaca fleece can be very useful, and can cost as much as $30 per pound.

“Because of the strength and quality of the fiber, it’s more related to Kashmir silk,” said Weed.

Weed’s alpacas are shorn once a year. The fibers are sent to the Rach-Alpaca farm in Hastings.

“People send us their dirty, smelly animal hair,” said owner Rachel Boucher.

Boucher uses equipment to turn the fibers into yarn.

“We wash it, we card it, we spin it, we turn it into yarn and wash it again and send it back to them,” said Boucher.

Boucher says it’s considered hypoallergenic, as long as it’s not dyed.

“It’s softer, it’s smoother, so it makes a really luscious yarn that’s very durable,” said Boucher.

The yarn is then shipped back to Weed in Dodge Center, who turns it into clothes, blankets and other items that are eight times warmer than wool and three times stronger.

“We need to get more people involved in farming alpacas and it takes one acre to have 8 to 10 alpacas, so it’s not like you need a lot of space to have an alpaca,” said Weed.

Weed says more alpacas need to be in the U.S.

“When you look at those big eyes, it’s hard to not feel that they’re warm and friendly,” said Weed.

Learn more about the companies on their websites.

Northern Sky Alpaca: Dodge Center

http://northernskyalpacas.openherd.com

Rach-Al-Paca Farm: Hastings

http://www.rachalpacafarm.com