Note: This story first aired on Colorado Getaways in 2009. It was featured again on the May 14 Colorado Getaways show.
DENVER (CBS4) – Jane Levene is co-owner of Jefferson Farms. Her 5 acre facility on the edge of the Denver Metro area is truly a slice of South America.
Besides 80 paco-vicuñas, they manage 60 alpacas. These descendants of animals from the Andes are bred for their high quality fleece. The raw yarn is converted into wonderfully soft scarves and full-length coats.
“A coat might cost you retail $800,” Levene said.
If that sounds high dollar, try this. A prime, male alpaca will command a stud fee of $2,500 and a top-breeding, female alpaca will sell for upwards of $14,000. But it’s the opportunity to see the animal’s behavior that is more intriguing.
Watching them run and romp, Leven explained the animals are never raised for meat.
“These animals are never slaughtered,” Leven said. “There’s simply not a meat market on them which appeals to most people.”
Clint Atkinson is one of the helpers at the farm. He says alpacas are generally bigger boned animals.
“They do have more fleece on their legs and their much denser and they’re generally a little calmer,” Atkinson said.
Jerry Dunn is training some of them to be comfortable around people.
“If you box them in, it makes them it makes them a little bit nervous,” Dunn said.
The creatures are curious and adorable. Still just teaching a young one to accept a halter can take a lot of patience.