The Attraction Of Alpacas
Imported into Ireland in 2000. Alpacas are members of the camelid family and closely related to the llama and their wild cousins Guanaco and Vicuna. Originated in the high Altiplano in South America, they were bred for thousands of years for their luxurious, soft and warm fibre. There are two breeds "HUACAYA" and "SURI" and come in 22 natural colours.
An Alpaca lives for approx 15 to 20 years. The hembras (female) breed one cria after 11.5 months pregnancy.
Alpacas are generally sheared once a year (in Summer) and produce an average of 3.5kg of the most luxurious and sought after fibre that can be spun into yarn for knitting or can be made into fabric.
Alpaca owners can usually sell fleece for very good prices to local spinners and weavers for their hand-made products. Good quality alpaca fibre sold at the farm gate fetched €80 to €100 per fleece. With almost no greae in alpaca fibre, processing yield is usually around 95%.
The Alpaca is a large strong animal. Alpacas are highly intelligent and uniquely observant and curious.
The Alpaca eat grasses and chew a cud. It stands a little less than 4 feet high at the shoulders; its head is much higher because it has a long neck and weighs 150 lbs. approx.
Alpacas are safe and gentle and easy to handle. They don't bite. Their digestive system is 30% more efficient than sheep and is highly resistant to internal parasites. Soft padded feet are easy on fragile soils. They require minimal fencing with 6 to 8 Alpacas per acre. Alpacas should be kept in small herds of at least 2 animals.
War on Foxes! Alpacas to the Challenge!
Sheep farmers have been plagued with losses of lambs to foxes. A farmer prior to selling his 2400 acre sheep and cattle property in New South Wales used Alpaca males to guard his 800 ewes during and after lambing. They enabled us to achieve almost 100% lambing, whereas previously even with annual fox control programmes, we had only achieved 80%-85% lamb breeding rates. "So Guarding Alpacas are a profitable investment for sheep and goat breeders"
NOTE A fully grown adult male is 18 months to 2 years old. Preferably two alpacas can be used to bond as companions with sheep and goats and this has resulted in the growing use of adult male alpacas as flock fuardians.
We are also working towards enhancing the Alpaca Society of Ireland and welcome any input.
Talk to us if you want to be part of an exciting development.