The process of selecting alpaca farming was actually a simple one. After retiring to the country, we decided to have a few animals, making our dream property a hobby farm. We also wished to grow and raise most of our own food. We bought a calf from George, a local farmer. His first sage advice was ‘Now Denise don’t get attached to him, just call him Steak.’ Steak looked lonely by himself so we soon added Hamburger, as a buddy. To make a long story short, after hand raising and nursing these two babies, we thoroughly enjoyed their antics. How could we send our pets to the slaughter house? So much for the idea of raising cattle. Obviously, we had to find an animal that had its value in something other than meat, hence the alpaca.
Alpacas are quiet, gentle and easy to handle. They require little to no prior knowledge of farming. Raised for their fibre, they are ideal for the animal lover. This peaceful animal has a very interesting social behaviour. As animals go, dogs bark, cats meow, cows moo, but alpacas hum. Their gentle hum can be heard as you enter their pen. Curious in nature, they will peacefully approach visitors, particularly children. It is not unusual to sit in the middle of the pen and be surrounded by them. Although they don’t love to be petted, they do enjoy interacting with others.
It quickly became very obvious that this was the animal for us: an animal raised for its cashmere-like fibre, peaceful in nature, requiring a small acreage (8 alpacas to an acre), eating small amounts of food, little vet involvement, adapted to our climate. What a great animal to own! During the winter months, alpacas develop a full fleece giving them the appearance of teddy bears. They come in 22 natural colours, a desirable asset in the fashion industry. This lustrous fibre is highly sought after for high-end garments.