Alpaca farming is becoming something of a popular alternative in Ireland, with twelve farms and studs currently registered with the Alpaca Association of Ireland.
Here’s why this strange, wonderful and whimsical-looking creature is so easy to fall in love with.
- They originate in South America and are a type of camel!
- They basically look like a cross between a sheep, a small giraffe, and Falkor from The Never Ending Story
- They have sweet, expressive faces with long sweeping eyelashes and foofy hipster hairstyles. Imagining a herd of these coming over the hill is bound to make you smile
- They are much gentler on land than cattle and sheep, as they are not cloven hoofed and have soft pads on their hooves instead. They place about a third of the stress on grazing land as would the same number of sheep.
- They produce a singular offspring called a ‘cria’ after an 11.5 month long gestation
- They are instinctively predisposed to chase off wild dogs, and as such make very good “guardians” for sheep during lambing season. A weaponised guard camel in passably sheep-like garb – any dog chancing a hunt would get some shock.
- They are naturally gentle, intelligent and good with children
- They are good around other animals and can run with horses or donkeys, sheep, goats, cows and even poultry – they will scare off a fox like nobody’s business
- They are completely adaptable to an Irish climate and landscape which is, at its worst, far less extreme than their ancestral home of the Peruvian Andes
- Gelded males make great pets and lawnmowers but even the “intact” adult males are gentle, approachable and tame.
- Animals have a thick fleece which is shorn annually producing wool which is soft, dense and three times stronger than sheep’s wool. There is great niche demand for Alpaca fleece.
- They are extremely low maintenance and require virtually no specialist care, and are a very easy adjustment for people without previous animal husbandry experience
“Alpacas of Ireland”, Ireland’s first large breeding herd established in 2001, are having an open evening today Saturday June 25th at their farm and shop at Killenagh Lodge, Co. Kildare. Call to book your attendance in advance on 046-973-1191, leaving your name and number. You can take a look at some of their current stock for sale here. Getting up close and personal with some of these adorable critters, apart from sussing out a potential diversification opportunity, is bound to be a fun afternoon out for all the family. Check here for an Alpaca farm near you, as most farms will offer open days of their own.