UPSIDE TO OWING ALPACAS
Traditional farming is not possible for everyone and alpacas offer a viable option. You don't need a lot of land and you don't have to have a herd number registered with the Dept of Agriculture.
Alpacas produce a bright sumptous fleece, from 16 microns upwards, with a smooth velvety handle. Alpaca fleece is warmer and lighter than wool but stronger and more durable. It is a luxury fibre which has the fineness of cashmere but is more hard wearing and in short supply within the textile industry, as such its a high value fibre which commands a premium.
Alpacas are fairly self reliant animals and do not need dipping, dagging or a lot of the other nasties associated with traditional livestock ! They do need annual vaccinations and worming when necessary. their toenails need trimming about 3 times a year and they are shorn once a year.
Apart from the usual care and attention given to all livestock alpacas generally look after themselves.
Alpacas usually give birth during daylight hours, this is the envy of a lot of sheep farmers ! Alpacas are not bred for meat in Ireland so are ideal for young families, they can live to be 15-20, so you will get to know your animals very well.
They don't have hooves but soft pads instead so they are very gentle on the land and will not damage even the wettest pasture unlike hooved livestock. They are tidy animals and use the same dung piles around the paddock, making it easy to keep their paddock clean and providing a great natural fertiliser for your garden.
They are good travellers and don't need any special equipement, a horsebox, cattle trailer or large van will do.The alpaca industry is relatively new to Ireland, at the moment we do not have sufficient numbers to create a viable fibre producing industry. So for the forseeable future we can assume that the breeding stock, which is being constantly improved by selective matings, will maintain its value as the industry gathers momentum.When you invest in alpacas you invest in a lifestyle..........
DOWNSIDE TO OWNING ALPACAS
Alpacas are in short supply in Ireland so they are expensive, as a herd animal they cannot be kept alone so the initial purchase must be of at least 2 animals. They only give birth to 1 cria a year so building up your herd is a long term project, this does protect the industry against the "fast buck" hype which can be aimed at the unusual livestock market.Alpacas create a lot of interest so be prepared to answer questions from the curious passerby !!