Alpacas win by a neck in cuteness stakes

WHILE not as common as cattle and sheep, the curious alpaca is now becoming a familiar shape in the Australian rural landscape.

Last week was Australian Alpaca Week, giving people the opportunity to visit and learn more about the little cousins of the camel, with more than 150,000 now kept across the country.

All week Alpaca Farm MDLXXX at Ecklin South was open to the public, with 80 people visiting an expo at the farm on Saturday. Animals from alpaca studs at Heywood, Mailors Flat, Terang and the Otways were also brought in.

Farm owner Isabel Renters said Australian Alpaca Week told the growth story of the woolly, long-necked animal over the past two decades since the specimen first landed from South America.

“We are offering a true farm experience where a walk around our paddocks will introduce people to the fascinating habits of alpacas, their environmentally friendly credentials and their continually increasing value in the agriculture industry,” Ms Renters said. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries about fleece and we had someone here with a spinning wheel, so there’s interest for people to see the end product.

“Australia is producing fleece to the world’s highest quality fetching record prices, and our stud animals are in demand both here and overseas, with top prices of $120,000 and $175,000 achieved for champion males in the past year.

“It’s still developing in comparison to merino wool, but the Australian Alpaca Society is looking into branding to turn Australian alpaca fleece into a worldwide brand.

“On a farm visit the first thing you notice about an alpaca is how cute they are.

“They have a great personality. They’re just interesting to watch how they communicate with each other.”

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