Alpaca farms open to public

MYRELLE Hurst fell in love with alpacas and Murwillumbah while travelling Australia with her husband Peter.

Now the retired hobby farmers not only have a 60-acre farm at Byangum, they have a growing herd of 25 Suri alpacas with several hembra (females) expecting or giving birth to krias (or babies) in the past few weeks.

“We have lots of kria at the moment and there is another 12 hembra expecting, with two who are due any day,” Mrs Hurst said.

“So if people come and have a look at the farm they may get to see a newborn.”

The Hurst's Waterview Alpacas stud is one of three farms rearing the ancient South American animal that are opening their gates to the public this week to celebrate National Alpaca Week.

“Alpacas are just such endearing animals, and even though they are a herd animal, each one has its own personality and are very easy to handle,” Mrs Hurst said.

“We started out with about 13 of mixed breed and wanted them just to keep the grass down on our property. Now we are focusing on breeding a pure Suri herd and then going into the different colours, as they are normally white or a light-fawn colour.”

Alpacas are mainly grazed in Australia for their fleece which can be spun into yarn for knitting or used in felting.

There are two main breeds - the curly-haired Huacaya being the most common and the long-haired Suri - whose fleece turns into dreadlocks when grown long.

The national herd of alpaca totals approximately 100,000.

“This is the first time the registration association has held Alpaca Week and we hope to attract people just to come and have a pat, feed or walk the animals or talk with people who may be interested in starting their own herd,” said Mrs Hurst.

Waterview Alpacas will be open tomorrow and Sunday. Phone (02) 6672 2072.

Humminghills at Carool is open daily from 9am to 4pm and sells alpaca merchandise. For information phone 5590 7745.

McKenzie Park Suri Alpacas is open by appointment. For information phone (02) 6672 6674.

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