By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – Alpacas were in town for the Great Western Alpaca show at the National Western Complex in Denver.

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Colorado native James Budd works at Alpacas of Montana, and brought some of his softest alpacas with him.

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“It’s so great to be back in Colorado. I get to see all of my old high school friends. I get to see a lot the other people here joining us in the alpaca competition,” said Budd.

One of Budd’s Huacaya alpacas, Pete, took second place in the show’s halter competition.

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“It’s all about the fiber quality; how soft is it, does it have any guard hairs, how long is the staple length, how dense is the animal. That’s what really makes a higher quality animal than an average animal,” he said.

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Budd’s company uses the soft wool from the alpaca to make everything from shirts and socks to hats, coats and blankets.

The alpacas are descendants of camels, but handlers say are mostly kinder because of their involvement with humans.

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“They are so great with kids. They are kindred hearts to kids, almost the smaller the better,” Budd said. “The twins, we set them out in the pasture when they were less than six months old and 200 of our alpacas came and touched noses. They give Eskimo kisses, that’s how they communicate.”

Soft and sweet, Budd sees these animals as the future of farming and textiles in the United States.

“You know, someday there will be more alpacas out in the pastures than sheep, period.”

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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