‘We started off by buying two alpacas to guard our chickens after a fox attack’
THIS MONTH: Shaun Stoker and Teri White run a small herd of alpacas in Northumberland with the help of their youngest son, nine-year- old Taylor. They also both run their own businesses — Shaun a landscaping firm and Teri a cleaning company.
"We have 16 acres so far — but we always want more — and we started off by buying two alpacas to guard our chickens after a fox attack. Someone told us that with an alpaca you will never have fox trouble again, and they were right. Our youngest son, Taylor, is very firmly part of Bingfield Alpacas and he takes a very active role in the day-to- day decisions and plans to grow our herd, which now numbers 17.
Yvonne is three years old, pregnant and the most ladylike of our herd. She was our first ever show girl and won us Reserve Fawn Champion at Yorkshire Alpaca Group Show.
Our handsome stud male Maestro is also three and is a two-time male Black Champion. He is a cheeky, needy boy as he was bottle reared so he almost thinks he is human.
Maestro is kept well away from the ladies until we want him to mate, as alpacas can breed at any time of the year, but we prefer females to give birth in the summer when it is warm and there is plenty of grass. To keep Maestro company when he’s not with the females, he has Merlin, our castrated male, with him. Merlin is also three and they have a ‘can’t live with you, but can’t live without you’ type of relationship.
Pandora (yes, she’s three too) is pregnant, has a cria at foot and is very hormonal. She appears to hate women, but is a good mother to Skye. Being a big, strong alpaca we are looking forward to seeing what Pandora produces, but we have a bit of a wait as alpacas can be pregnant for up to 12 months.
At 10 months old, Skye is the eldest of our cria. She is a very inquisitive young lady and she is also a walking hay bale — she is supposed to eat it not wear it. She’s the most dirty alpaca ever. She is always rolling around in something, but you can forgive her because she is just so cute.
The biggest chore with the herd is having to pick up the alpaca dung with a quad bike and poo picking vacuum attachment as alpaca poo takes longer to degrade than other manure. However, the good news is that it does eventually make excellent compost. "