With 150 animals, the Salisburys believe they have the state’s largest alpaca herd on their northern Kentucky farm near Burlington. Although generally associated with the Andes Mountains of South America, alpacas actually lived in North America thousands of years ago, explains Greg Salisbury. He says alpaca bone fossils have been found in every state. Either because of predation or climate change, alpacas eventually found a home in the upper elevations of South America.
Alpacas are related to llamas, which were bred as a pack animal, but are smaller in stature, topping out at about 150 pounds. They’re highly prized for their thick, luxurious fleece that wraps from the tops of their heads down to nearly their hooves. Combine that with their expressive faces and alpacas have a look that’s infinitely huggable.
“They’re not like other livestock,” Greg Salisbury says. “Being with them is a treat.”
“They’re like people: they each have their own personality,” says Linda Salisbury. “We fit in with their permission… They trust us, the let us care for them as needed, so there is a mutual fondness, I think.”
When the Salisburys started raising alpacas in 2005, they bred and sold the animals. Now they’re gaining a reputation for the alpaca fiber they produce, which the Salisburys sell raw, spun into yarn, or crafted into products.
“We want to raise animals that produce fine, dense fleece that are known nationally,” says Greg.
The Salisburys invite visitors to their Eagle Bend Alpacas farm during their annual shearing in late April, and for several other events throughout the year. They also participate in the Kentucky Wool Festival in Falmouth, an event that Linda says draws up to 8,000 people. This year’s festival is scheduled for the first weekend in October.
Learn more at the Eagle Bend Alpacas website
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2208, which originally aired on February 4, 2017. Watch the full episode.