Hi! Michelle Hamilton here, Alpaca Breeder extraordinaire. lol

Welcome to my first article in my blog.

Alpacas have been a huge part of my life since august 2010. Its been a long and winding road to where I am today and have had a lot fun and some heartache along the way.

I breed Alpaca for their fleece, so my main aim is the commercial side of the industry. But I can assure you these majestic animals have wheedled their way into my heart in more ways than just commercial.

Right let’s get some boring facts out of the way so you have an idea about the topics to come that I will chat about.

There are two different fleece types in the Alpaca world. The Huacaya ( wa-ky-ya) which have a fleece structure akin to that of a sheep. Growing at right angles from the body giving them a cute fluffy teddy bear look.

The other is the rarer silky fleece of the Suri (Soo-ree) Alpaca. Their fleece hangs like hair parting from the backline and down the sides of the body. When in full fleece these animals are mesmerizing to watch with their fleece flowing back and forth like a curtain.  Amazingly the Suri only makes up 15% of Australia’s national herd (a number that has grown from 10% in the last 10years)

Both the breeds do not produce Lanolin. Which enables the processing of the fibre to be less harsh than that of wool. Alpaca fibre is also hollow which makes lighter. It is also hypoallergenic, fire retardant and consider to be one of the most luxury fibres in the world. Who doesn’t want to be part of producing that!  I, myself, breed the Suri.

What are the sex’s called?

  • Female – Hembra (Hem-bra)
  • Male – Macho (Ma-cho) brilliant isn’t it! Lol
  • Baby – Cria (Cree-ah)
  • Teenager/Weaners- Tuis (too-ees)
  • Castrated Male – Wether (weather)

Alpaca sit down to be mated. The male will orgle (their love song! Lol) which is wobbly throaty sound that they will continue to do throughout the mating. The female, if not pregnant, will sit in “cush (coosh)” (sit down on their tummy like a camel ) to be mated. This process can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to about 45min (ish). Alpaca are induced ovulators which means that the act of mating brings on ovulation. However if the female is already pregnant then she will “spit” or run away from the male, basically show that his advances are not welcome. This is what is known in the alpaca world as a “spit-off”. Quite an effective method of testing alpacas to see if they are pregnant or not. There is of course more that goes into it all but that is conversation for when you are ready to start your breeding program.

Alpaca gestation is 11.5mths, 350 days, or thereabouts, and as a rule they will produce only the one cria. Twins are rare although do occur. When an alpaca gives birth - the name for this has to be the most incredible terminology that I have learnt – Unpacking – Yep, I’m not kidding! When an alpaca has her baby, its called unpacking - and no the mating is not called “packing” - although what fun if it was! Haha!

I don’t profess to be an expert with Alpaca, although I do have an extensive animal/livestock knowledge and lucky enough to possess a good common sense. Both which are imperative when you want to have animals full stop. Alpaca aren’t rocket science although they can be confusing little buggers at times and perplex the hell out of you and your vet, but I assure you this happens with ALL other animals/livestock as well.

I hope this introduction to me hasn’t been too boring. If it has, I reckon you probably won’t like the rest of the instalments that will follow eventually - maybe you know someone who would love it! Pass it on to all your friends. If nothing else, it just might give you an emotional boost for the day.

Cheers

Alpaca Girl, Michelle