In contrast to goats and sheep, which have sharp hooves that damage pasture and soil, alpacas have two toes with toenails on top and a soft pad on the bottom of each foot that minimizes their effect on pastureland. In other words, the grass system is not disturbed by alpacas, allowing the soil and their habitat to remain intact.
The natural habitat of alpacas is about 3,800 metres above sea level. At this altitude, the water supply is natural and the land is generally not suitable for agriculture. This makes alpacas more environmentally friendly than all other fibre-producing livestock that often contribute significantly to serious environmental problems. Vegetable fibres also represent a problem for the environment. For example, in Australia, 2,830 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of cotton.
The efficiency of alpacas is especially notable considering that they require much less food intake than most other fibre-producing livestock. Cashmere goats, for example, require at least two times the amount of dry grass that alpacas need to produce 1 kg of clean fibre.