We breed white huacayas and have a lesser number of colours. Our few suris are pets.
Integrity is key in developing our herd and contributing towards the industry. Each of our alpacas is described honestly whether it has a high micron or soft handle. Every fleece is utilised by us and put to good purpose. The most useful fleece is in the midrange micron 18-26um. This is fleece that works well for yarns that can be made into clothes or apparel that touch the skin. Micron above this is fantastic for hats, bags, and other accessories. Ultra fine and super fine fleece is stockpiled or sometimes blended with the midrange micron for durability. It is also used for the creation of baby clothes and special orders.
We are proud members of the Australian Alpaca Association (AAA). Our endeavours in maintaining the integrity of the industry, mean that we register our alpacas and use AAA certified stud males in our breeding. This is the best means for accurate pedigree records and maintaining the integrity of bloodlines.
Our herd genetics include many of the giants in the industry but we are always on the lookout for diversity and unique genes to add to the mix.
Our breeding goals are aimed at developing consistency and bulk (density), to develop high yielding fleece growth in our alpacas. Our alpacas live in a subtropical climate where it rains alot and density is not as well developed as in regions where it snows even so, alpacas perform well under the conditions.
We prefer not to sell into the meat channels but it is an area of potential for others.
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Generally alpacas are reasonably easy to keep as long as some rudimentary practices are maintained. Like any stock animal, they are as susceptible to internal parasites as other stock but by understanding your local environment, you can minimise issues. Our worst killer is the native paralysis tick but we have noted the tick cycle and rotate the alpacas accordingly. By denying their access to hosts, we have been able to limit the ticks' ability to survive and attack our alpacas. Without "fire", it is impossible to reach zero because there will always be the wild species that host so it is important to practise good observation.
Good observation is the best tactic. Know your alpacas and their behaviours. Armed with this knowledge, you might be able to pick up issues early and be able to act ahead of heartaches.
We conduct ritual health checks every 4-6 weeks, checking eyes, body condition score, teeth, toenails, ears and treat as necessary. This will include vitamins, vaccinations, or selective drench as required or appropriate. We avoid drenching as much as possible. This supports our ability to be proactive so that we can respond to warning signs and head off any potential threats to the health of our alpacas. The seasons bring their own issues eg ticks and biting insects especially around their feet and ankles as well as their faces and ears. We use as many natural treatments as possible as long as they work!
Our alpacas free range during the day to allow them access to a diversity of plants. We leave our gates to specific paddocks ajar and ensure their safe night yards are as secure as possible.
They are browsers and will pick at a multitude of grasses, plants, leaves, and trees, as well as dead leaves and bark. During our long periods of wet, we ensure they have access to dry food such as hay, chaff, or lucerne, to help with their metabolism.
They are creatures of habit and you can set your clock by their movements. Any days that they stay close to home indicates either an imminent birth or storm, even when the sky is blue. It is amazing how they know! As dawn breaks, they normally sit at the open gate observing before they venture out. Then one of the matriarchs leads them out. On a normal day, they return at lunch time for a rest, then go out again but are always back home between 3.00 and 3.30pm to settle in for the evening. This appears not negotiable.
Vitamin D is necessary and it is common to find alpacas sunbaking to get it naturally from the sun. We provide mineral supplements once or twice a week to ensure they do not miss out on any necessary traces given our high rainfall. Just because you have grass doesn't guarantee your grass has nutritional value, especially if it rains alot. Our improved pastures are fantastic but mineral and protein supplements are added to their diet as treats to ensure they get everything they need to stay healthy and strong and it's a great form of bribery to make sure they come when you call. Each group has access to the creeks so alpacas are able to cool down if needed. A few of our alpacas dislike water but most love a splash especially on warm days when we regularly give them a spray with the hose.
Shearing is done in late August to September ahead of the summer rains and before the really hot weather. We take samples which are sent away for fleece analyses. The fleece is clipped and skirted, and graded according to primary, secondary, and skirtings. We use much of our fleece ourselves for hand spinning into yarns, felting, or stuffing, etc. Sometimes we send it to mills for processing into rolags or yarn. The rest is sold to individuals or agents.