peacefully grazing a hillside at
Inglewood, South Australia
Alpacas are native to South America and common in Chile, Peru and Bolivia. A member of the Camelid family, the Alpaca is closely related to the Llama, Vicuna and Guanaco. Charles Ledger, a pioneer of the alpaca industry, brought the first alpacas to Australia in 1830s. However, the current success that the alpaca industry is enjoying began with a major shipment by Roger Haldane in 1988. Building on the extensive livestock knowledge and expertise gained through sheep breeding, Australia has now achieved the largest registered herd of quality alpacas in the world.
There are two types of alpacas and both are bred successfully in Australia. Stansbury Alpacas specializes in consistent quality Huacaya alpacas that grow a dense crimpy fleece somewhat like a Merino sheep. The other variety are Suri alpacas and they grow a lustrous fine fleece with a pencil like lock structure. If wishing to peruse more information about Suri alpacas it can be found at www.surrealalpacas.com.au .
A baby Stansbury's Alpaca just one hour old
Alpacas are intelligent animals that relatively maintenance free, are easy to handle and can be trained to lead on a halter. They should be shorn, vaccinated with a 5 in 1 vaccine and have their toe nails trimmed once per year usually around October. Their fleece is not oily and with a naturally clean breach, flystrike is very rare. Alpacas do not require mulesing or crutching like sheep and do not suffer foot rot. Alpacas have soft padded feet that are low impact on soil, making them the environmentally friendly livestock choice. Alpacas have a digestive system that is approximately 30% more efficient than sheep and can be stocked at a rate equivalent to 0.8 DSE (dry sheep equivalent).
The luxurious fleece harvested from alpacas is in high demand and most commonly sold to Australian Alpaca Fleece Limited where it is processed and used by manufacturers and designer such as Creswick Woolen Mills, Flair Menswear and Kelly & Windsor.
photo - Stansbury Alpacas
in the morning mist
at Inglewood, South Australia
Alpaca wethers have become very popular with sheep and goat farmer because the adopt the herd they are with and chase foxes away from young lambs and kids. In times of threat, alpacas will usually make a high pitched warning call to alert their herd and then take up a position protecting the herd. Wethers can also make good pets but should be kept in pairs to avoid stress.
The alpaca industry has developed significantly in since 1988 using new technology to make huge genetic gains in a short time. The Australian Alpaca Association is the foundation of this success with major research and development support available for it's members to take advantage of and share the success.
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