Up close with Canty alpaca
Alpaca farmers from around New Zealand opened their gates to the public on Sunday for National Alpaca Day.
Farms including El Dos Cadena Alpacas in Swannanoa and Sherlin Alpacas in West Melton were among those who welcomed thousands of curious visitors for a chance to get up close and personal with one of the country’s less common farm animals.
Most farms were open from 10am and people were able to wander around the properties free of charge to see and in some cases interact with the animals. Sherlin Alpacas owner Ben Scott said his farm was open for both days over the weekend.
‘‘We have quite a considerable amount of people come through, we expect around 12 to 14 hundred to come through over the two days to have a look.’’
The alpaca is a member of the same family of animals as camels and llamas, the camelids. Generally smaller than the llama, the species was treasured by the ancient Incan Empire of the Andes and is still a common sight in the mountainous regions of South America.
Scott said the open day was a good chance for people to see the day-to-day running of alpaca farms in their area.
‘‘The highlight is just to get up close and personal with alpacas. There’s still a huge amount of people who haven’t seen alpacas or been up close to them.’’
On the Sherlin Alpacas farm were a number of two to three month old baby, or ‘cria’, alpacas delighting the crowds for the weekend.
‘‘It’s quite a cute cuddly time to be up close with them,’’ Scott said.
Regardless of how cuddly the cria were, Scott said farmers needed to be strict on what males they kept for breeding.
‘‘We’ve always got to be breeding better than what we have today,’’ he said.
All females were kept, some to be sold out as breeding stock for other farms when they matured. Scott said he had around 300 head on the farm producing fibre and continuing the Sherlin breeding programme.
Sherlin Alpacas was wellknown for producing alpaca thermal socks, as well as duvets, blankets, jumpers, clothes and yarn.
‘‘We have a shop on site that we can sell all the fibre products from,’’ Scott said.
Ian Nelson was the first to bring the species to New Zealand from South America in 1987. The New Zealand Alpaca Association website said there were now more than 20,000 registered alpacas in the country.
Peru maintained the largest population of alpaca in the world; more than three million, or 90 per cent of the world’s population.
Carlos Fernandez and Adyson Fernandez, 2 years old pet an Alpaca in a field on a open farm day at Sherlin Alpacas on the New Zealand National Alpaca Day Open Weekend near West Melton.
Three month old Alpaca in a paddock on a open farm day at Sherlin Alpacas.
There are more than 20,000 registered alpaca in New Zealand
Some ‘‘cria’’ or young alpaca.