Homefield Alpaca Visit – 1st May 2018
Chrissy Kirk welcomed us on a sunny morning and started our visit by telling us about how she started keeping Alpacas in 2007. Originally, she showed them and weaved their fleece to make into numerous items. However, she now concentrates on running husbandry workshops and trekking; occasionally taking her best-behaved Alpaca to Care Homes and Primary Schools.
Starting off with a few males, she decided to start breeding them and bought in several ladies. Now, there are 15 at the Farm, with several babies due in June from 3 stud males. A top stud can cost £75,000 to buy but a ‘regular’ chap is about £2000. Chrissy mates the females from 2 years old, and only once every other year to allow them to fully recover their strength. The babies are weaned at approx. 7 months old.
Alpaca fleece is finer and lighter than Llama fleece; it has hollow fibres resulting in a material that is warm in winter but cool in summer. An Alpaca duvet does not need to change with the seasons as it adapts to the ambient temperature.
After an introductory talk, we were split into smaller groups and took the lead of a young male Alpaca each plus one of the dominant males and went for a walk around the paddock, observing their habits and temperament on the way. After everyone had had at least 20 minutes each, we were treated to a hot drink and array of tempting home-made cakes in the cottage. Chrissy had several examples of different fleeces and yarns as well as several beautiful products for sale in her studio and a few members were tempted.
All in all it was a very different experience, which all seemed to enjoy.