Starting in 2008, with three females, we have had cria born each year, which we have been on hand to witness and assist with, and so have intimate knowledge of their lives. We have animals in a range of solid colours which means we have a choice when creating products – while there is a growth in the number of breeders specialising in coloured alpacas, we believe that in order for alpaca products to appeal to the younger fashion market, dyed yarns must be available, and so we will maintain a white presence in our herd to meet that demand. We have a small flock of hens and ducks, and alpacas are useful for guarding these – they give us comical moments when new cria interact with the poultry. We live in an apple growing area, and named the herd accordingly, to give it a local reference – all our cria are named after apple varieties, and we are working through the alphabet on an anuual basis. We are now seeing great results from our breeding programme, and are having births from mothers who were themselves, born on the farm.
We have been members of the British Alpaca Society from our beginning, and participate in seminars and events run by the South West Alpaca Group, where there is a good social network providing support and advice. We have also participated in the Royal Bath & West, Devon County, and North Somerset agricultural shows with some success in the showring. We have been regular attendees at the annual British Alpaca Futurity.
As a fourteen-year old boy, my interest in wildlife was confirmed when I spent the earnings from my paper round on collecting the monthly ‘The World of Wildlife’ magazines, which would one-day build into an encyclopaedia – after 15 months, I’d collected all parts of Volume 1, The African Continent, when it became too expensive and I stopped… little did I know then, that I would have to wait a few years before getting close and personal with my own native beasts of the South American continent…
Initially, we had a compact plot here, and we had to be careful not to expand the herd too quickly, but since we bought an adjoining field, we have been implementing the paddock layout and facilities, and integrating it with the original plot.
Health & Welfare
We take the health of our alpacas very seriously. Seasonal vaccinations are given, and vitamin ADE injections are given at intervals through the winter. We test faecal samples from the herd at frequent intervals to monitor parasite levels, in order to try and avoid anthelmintic resistance to antibiotics building up – Joy is an experienced, hospital bio-chemist, so samples are tested here, and we can get results of samples from specific animals without delay. Written records of all tests and treatments are kept. All feed is kept in a secure store, and feed buckets put away immediately after feeding – drinking water is kept high out of reach of other animals, and the summer bathing trough is covered overnight – paddocks are walked daily for signs of hazards or attempted intrusions. Our fences are double-meshed, trenched, and have ground aprons, and gates are meshed to ground level. For added vigilance, an infra-red camera monitors at night. Dave shears our herd, and has attended the 2-day Basic Camelidynamics course on handling alpacas.