In recent years, Alpacas have been popping up around the Irish island.
Renowned for their quality fiber production used in luxury clothing right across the globe, little do people know that these intelligent animals could possibly be the solution to harmful dog attacks to sheep as they officiate as guardians. This proven fact comes as a surprise to many.
In recent months in Ireland, farmers have been plagued by tragic sheep attacks performed by dogs and several of these stories have come to the forefront, as farmers count the cost.
Protection from predator attacks prior and post lambing can be a heavy burden for a sheep farmers to carry, however alpacas have proven that they can step up to the mark.
One of four members of the camelid species, the South-American natives, standing at five foot tall, are gentle, very alert and protective with excellent hearing and eyesight over kilometre distances. The combination of these characteristics make Alpacas ideal for sheep, free-range hens, ducks, other poultry and fox protection.
Their method of protection ranges from walking or running towards the intruder or in some cases, chasing, spitting and kicking with their front feet, making loud high-pitched noises as they attack.
They usually see off single dogs and foxes that are approaching the flock, capturing them within seconds. Reports have confirmed that alpacas are known to stamp a fox to death if they corner one.
Usually wethered adult male alpacas are more than often not used, however there is growing interest in the use of females also. One pair of alpaca guardians can protect up to 250 ewes. Alpacas are social herd animals by nature,so it is ideal to keep two at the very minimum.
Their superb livestock protection potential was first discovered by Australian sheep farmers, who were susceptible to numerous financially harmful sheep attacks, approximately fifteen years ago. It has also been uncovered that Alpacas have similar requirements to sheep in terms of nutritional requirements and husbandry management such as disease health programmes including vaccination and de-worming.
Now the world is catching on, that alpacas are a friend of the farmer and they are exported right across the globe for this reason.
On first appearances who would have thought these animals have such admirable abilities.
With a lifespan of 18-24 years and a gestation length of 11.5 months, these animals definitely earn their keep as more than just fibre producers.
Two weeks are giving birth to a cria, breeding females come into heat yet again.
The alpaca’s digestive system is yet another eye-opening feature of the animals, comprising of three-compartment stomachs, which is known as pseudoruminants, making them very suitable for high-fibre diets. The digestive system must be kept balanced as it can be sensitive.
Unlike several grazers, they also place their dung and urine in specific places and do not feed near these areas, reducing their chances of ingesting internal parasites.