Bright outlook for alpaca farming
Association of New Zealand president Greg Charteris encouraged the public, particularly farmers to visit the expo to gain an insight into alpacas. Alpaca numbers were growing in New Zealand and it should be considered as a serious farming alternative.
Alpaca farming’s perception as an expensive gimmick for lifestyle block owners was changing. It was becoming a serious farming option for landowners.
"It’s going to grow from a very small group of moneyed people having alpacas, it’s now jumping out into the rural community where people are seriously farming them. There’s people with 400-600 sized herds. We’re going to see herds of 1000 soon."
The industry was still in its infancy when compared to sheep and cattle farming, with about with about 25,000 animals nationwide he said.
"We have some of the best alpacas in the world in New Zealand and Australia and are very high in the quality stakes in the world. We have some alpaca farmers in New Zealand making twice the money per hectare from alpacas as they are out of sheep so it has a very positive future."
That income was derived mostly from the alpaca’s fleece, which had properties similar to merino wool. The fleece was highly sought after for high-end garments, he said.
Alpaca breeders also received money for the animals’ pelt and meat.
The expo was also an opportunity for breeders to get together and discuss issues affecting the industry.
Judging for the national show was about alpaca breeders striving to produce the highest quality fleece possible that extended over the whole animal.
"There is a lot of genetic development still to be done and New Zealand and Australia have made huge strides in that over the last few years."
An alpaca breeder himself, Charteris owns the Waters Edge Alpaca stud near Karaka with wife Toni. They breed top end alpacas and export embryos to breeders in Europe.
While the expo had no official sale scheduled, he expected many of the attending breeders would make purchases among each other.
High quality alpaca animals average around $8000-$10,000, and there were animals on show at the expo worth two to three times that price, he said.