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Alpaca farm, mill open to public tours Sept. 29-30

By Staff | Sep 22, 2012

MAXWELL – Christian and Michelle Davies, alpaca owners and breeders from Maxwell, will open their farm and fiber mill to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Sept. 29 and 30.

The open house coincides with National Alpaca Farm Days, a coordinated effort across the United States and Canada to introduce the alpaca and its fiber products.

The Davies farm and new fiber processing mill will be open for tours.

In addition, the Des Moines Knitting Guild will be in attendance with members demonstrating their craft.

Also, the Davies farm store, which is filled with a variety of products made from alpaca fiber, will be open.

The Davies offer a range of educational seminars, including an introduction to alpacas and hand-processing of fiber, as well as classes covering spinning, felting and weaving.

The farm is open by appointment any other time.

The fiber mill, which opened earlier this year, processes most types of fiber (including alpaca, llama, wool and rabbit) into yarns, sheet felt, batts and roving.

Processing yarn involves multiple steps and machinery, which will be available for viewing during the tours.

The Davieses became interested in alpacas when they were looking for a livestock to raise that was of manageable size, wasn’t going to aggravate Michelle’s allergies and was going to have a return on investment.

They started with four bred females and two herd sires in fall 2006.

Currently, their herd has grown to more than 100 alpacas, representing both huacaya and suri varieties of all colors and ages.

Alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere, but is warmer than wool.

Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic.

Additional performance characteristics include stretch, water repellency, odor reduction and wrinkle resistance.

About alpacas

  • Alpacas were imported from Bolivia, Chile and Peru from 1984 to 1998.
  • In 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated the alpaca as farm livestock.
  • Alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in the late spring.
  • They produce 5 to 10 pounds of fiber per animal.
  • Adult alpacas stand approximately 36 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 170 pounds.
  • Alpacas have two nails per foot that are trimmed with dog trimmers as needed.
  • They communicate by humming.
  • The gestation period is 11 1/2 months.
  • They can live into their mid-20s.

The Davieses operate C & M Acres at 33707 663rd Ave., Maxwell.

For more information, contact Christian and Michelle Davies at (515) 387-8607 or email at cmacres@cmacres.com.

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