币游注册Alpacas can be farmed for fibre, meat and leather but in Australia, are grown mainly for their fibre. Alpaca fibre is soft, light, warm and comfortable when worn next to the skin and is categorised as a luxury fibre, being processed into a range of high-quality garments and home wares. Farming alpacas for meat is new in Australia and very small scale with farmers usually selling directly to restaurants.

 (AAA), can provide comprehensive information on all aspects of alpaca farming including sales and marketing.

Facts and figures

  • Alpacas are a grazing herd animal native to South America
  • There are two main types of alpacas – Huacaya and Suri
  • In Australia, alpacas are farmed mainly for fibre production, with small markets for meat and leather
  • The national herd size is estimated at more than 200,000
  • Alpacas thrive under similar conditions to merino sheep
  • Alpacas are considered ‘green’ as their soft feet cause minimal damage to fragile soils, they do not suffer from flystrike or require mulesing and have similar nutritional requirements to sheep

Production status

Alpacas are currently farmed across the temperate and cooler parts of Australia. The registered herd size in Australia is around 200,000 but could top one million by 2021.

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Map of current and potential growing regions

 per hectare (DSE). A dry 70kg alpaca has a DSE rating of 1.4.

Feeding can affect fibre quality and reproductive performance and alpacas can eat excessive to their needs, so herds may need to be managed for over-feeding. Excessively rich pasture may lead to coarsening of the fibre (known as "micron blowout") and obesity. Underfeeding due to high stocking rates, or very poor quality pasture, may cause weight loss and deterioration in fleece quality. If farming alpacas for fleece, it is also best to avoid pastures with seeds that contaminate the fleece such as Bathurst, noogora and horehound burrs.

Alpacas need ready access to good quality, fresh drinking water requiring between 2-10 litres per animal per day, depending on temperature, feed conditions and physiological status (lactating females require a much greater volume per day).

Breeds and breeding

Alpacas live for 15-20 years, with an adult weight of about 70kg. The more common breed of alpaca is the Huacaya which accounts for around 90% of the registered herd in Australia. The huacaya has a soft crimped style of fleece, not unlike that of a merino sheep, which grows perpendicular to the skin, giving the animal a well-rounded appearance. Ideally, fleece coverage is even and extends down the legs showing a uniform crimp along the length of the staple.

The less common type is the Suri, representing around 10% of the Australian (and world) herd. The suri has a fleece which grows in long locks hanging straight down from the animal’s backline. The fleece has high lustre and its feel is more silky than that of the huacaya.