The Secret of the Andes

The Alpaca

Alpacas (lama pacos) are one of the most beautiful South American camelids. Related to the Llamas, Guanacos and Vicuñas, the Alpaca has been valued for its fibre since pre-Incan times due to the properties and quality of its hair.
There are two main species of Alpaca: the Huacayo y Suri.

Today, Michell & Cia. Passionately processes this historic fibre using state of the art technology along with the conviction that this must be done respecting the environment.

In the Peruvian Andes

The habitat of the Alpaca

The Alpaca is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, where they have been domesticated ever since the time of pre-Incan cultures. There are estimated to be approximately 3.5 to 4 million Alpaca in South America, 95% of which can be found in the regions of Southern Peru.

Alpacas are bred at altitudes which vary between 3,500 and 4,500 metres above sea level, where temperatures can range from anywhere between -20°C and 30°C in a single day, surviving on a low protein diet based on natural grasses.

PHOTOS FROM HABITAT OF THE ALPACA

Mallkini Ranch

The breeding of Alpaca

Michell, as part of its vision to produce and export the finest Peruvian Alpaca, has extended its efforts from the development of quality Alpaca fibre products to the breeding of the animals themselves. This is considered to be essential in that the breeding of quality animals ensures the improvement of the fibre available for processing. 

At the beginning of the 80’s, Michell made the decision to open an Alpaca breeding farm in the Andean highlands in Puno, close to Lake Titicaca. The main focus was on the genetic improvement of the Alpaca through education in better breeding practises for small farmers, who own the majority of the animals throughout the Puno region, in which 70% of all Peruvian Alpaca breeding occurs. This project began well, but was suddenly and violently interrupted by Shining Path terrorist activity, which destroyed many of the businesses in the area and made the farm unsafe for its employees. When acts of terrorism ceased in the early 1990s, Michell made a commitment to relaunch the project, establishing the Malkini Farm, which has since become the largest private Alpaca breeding program in Peru.

Mallkini possesses a herd of approximately 3,500 Alpacas Huacayo and 500 Suri, all of which have been carefully selected for its breeding program. Michell is also sharing the knowledge it has acquired in Alpaca breeding with communities and cooperatives throughout the Puno region with the sole purpose of improving the quality of the fibre. Today, the Malkini herd is among the very best in Peru. 

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