Alpacas

Many West Australian's (WA), including many small landholders, are taking up alpaca breeding as a serious enterprise. People are drawn to the animal's versatility and the low impact they have on the natural environment.

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Source: The Noteworthy series has been developed by the WA Small Landholder Information Service and the Kondinin Group.  

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Introduction

Sustainability is no longer a good enough objective for Australian agriculture. We now need to improve the health of our degraded environment not just sustain it or conserve it as we have strived to do in the past.

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 Most alpacas in South America are now grazing on the Altiplano which is over 3800m above sea level. It has a short growing season and 75% of precipitation falls between December and March, with a long dry period from May to October. However before the Spaniards invaded in the 16th century alpacas were found grazing over vast tracts of lowlands very similar to country of inland Australia.

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 During the last couple of years there has been an upsurge in interest in using alpacas to guard flocks of sheep and goats against loss of lambs and kids. This is possibly due to the build up in fox numbers since the mouse plagues and also due to the increased commercial value of lambs and kids.

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Practical advice for those who plan to purchase or develop a farm for the purpose of breeding alpaca.Although alpacas are now mainly grown in high altitudes in South America in areas unsuitable for other domestic livestock, this was not always the case. Shortly after the Spaniards invaded Peru in 1532, the Spaniards began the massacre of alpaca grazing on lands suitable for cattle and sheep. This was carried out over a long period of time before Sir Titus Salt began to develop equipment to process alpaca fibre more than three centuries later in 1852.

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