Is alpaca farming the new way to go?

COWS, pigs, sheep, horses and hens roam the green fields up, down and across the county of Fermanagh.
For many farmers, they have been left wondering if it is worth branching into the world of alpaca farming.
What is so attractive about the fluffy, shy, South American mammals?
The obvious answer is their wool. An alpaca’s wool is twice as strong, warm, lighter, stronger and hard wearing than any other wool that can be purchased.
There is a niche market for wool and with the expanding UK and European market, there is a much greater demand for this sought after wool in the textile industry.
Apart from their cute appearance and fluffy exterior, alpacas have a very long lifespan, are very clean skinned, have a soft padded foot and don’t tramp the land in the winter months and they are very efficient in regard to food converting.
Alpacas are also very fertile and the females are sexually mature from 12 to 14 months and should produce one cria, a young alpaca, every year.
The mammals do like their own comfort and have their particular needs, however.
The alpaca is best suited in fields with a fencing around the height of four feet, with hedges or stables or barns, which the animal can use for shelter in bad weather.
The South American species also likes clean water and will graze on hay or haylage in the Spring, Autumn and Winter months.
One local farmer from Fermanagh, who is currently evaluating the productivity of starting up an alpaca farm, feels that the benefits of having a flock of the mammals outweigh their particular requirements.
“Alpacas are an incredible animal. The market for British breeders continues and increases every year across Europe and the United Kingdom and their friendly personalities may be exactly what rural farming in Fermanagh needs!”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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