Benefits of alpacas on show

ALPACAS aren't only cute pets - they can also earn owners about $45 per kilogram of wool.

Alpaca lovers and farmers got an insight into the industry at the Deloraine Alpaca Expo at the Deloraine Showgrounds yesterday.

Travellers Rest breeder Phil Austen said the expo, which continues all weekend, was about exhibiting the industry, the animals and their commercial use.

``If we can produce the finest and highest volumes of fleece, the return to the farmer is between about $40 and $50 a kilogram,'' Mr Austen said.

Alpacas are known for producing fine wool for garments due to their lightness and softness.

Mr Austen said alpacas were also great protective animals and could scare away predators like stray dogs, foxes and dingoes.

``They are an incredible animal,'' Mr Austen said.

``The breeding aspect is quite challenging (due to genetics) but people can have them as just pets.

``And they're very good on the land and easy because of their feet.''

Alpacas have also recently been used for their meat, which Mr Austen is in favour of from a commercial perspective.

``To be economic in the industry, you have to use the whole animal,'' he said.

Sybilla Scott-Smith, of Westbury, said she preferred to knit with alpaca wool rather than sheep's wool.

``Sheep wool is greasy and quite heavy,'' she said.

She said due to wrist problems, she preferred the lightness of alpaca wool, which was actually hair.

``It's warmer than wool and it can be shampooed,'' she said.

The expo continues in the Quamby Pavilion from 9am to 4pm today.

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