Alpacas originated from South America and were a valuable animal to an ancient civilisation from the 13th century called the Incas. At this time alpacas numbers were in the millions. The alpaca is part of the camelid family and there are two breeds in Australia today, the Huacaya ('wa-ky-uh') and the Suri ('soo-ree').
The first alpacas were imported into Australia and New
Zealand in 1989. In 2001 there were 40,000 alpacas in Australia and
increasing every year. Fibre sales is always being improved, but as Alpaca
breeding is a new industry for Australia, the emphasis will be on breeding
quality animals. The alpaca fibre is soft, warm, yet light with the added
bonus of strength. There is now a range of colours from solid white
through to a true black.
Alpacas that are in good health, simply need the basic maintenance of yearly shearing, vaccinations, drenching and the occasional toe trimming and maybe teeth trimming if needed. With a good basic diet of quality hay, pastures to graze, some supplements of grain when needed and fresh water, alpacas pretty much take care of themselves. Good fencing that will keep in other livestock, will keep alpacas in a paddock or yard and their padded feet do less damage than livestock with hard hooves.
One characteristic of alpacas that some people may find undesirable is that they do spit. But they don't usually spit at people, unless you get in the line of fire. The reason that they will spit is a female will ward off unwanted advances from a male or if one alpaca is showing their discontent to another alpaca.
Alpacas are quiet, gentle and curious animals. They can become friendly and be a halter trained. Moving them around a property is possible, without the assistance of a dog.
Linda & Rob Power
PO Box 426
Cootamundra NSW 2590
Phone: 02 6942 2707