Bernie Neary from Mullagh Lane Whiterath Dromiskin has an unusual and beautiful breed of animal on her farm land.
alpacas come from South America and are closely related to Llamas.
They have been bred in that part of the world for thousands of years for their beautiful soft wool coats.
They have been bred in Ireland since the start of the millennium and although they were originally bred at a very high altitude, they seem to have adapted to this climate very well.
“This climate would be nearly tropical for them,” said Bernie, who has 20 Alpacas at Dromiskin.
“These are exotic pets who are bought by people from all sorts of backgrounds.
“They are used to living in the open so they don’t need shelters.”
Experienced breeders like Bernie are members of the Alpaca Association of Ireland
which fosters the growing industry in this country.
The association brings together alpaca owners, breeders, lovers and veterinary specialists.
It has a list of owners in Ireland and it hopes to establish an international breed standard which will be used to evaluate the quality of alpacas bred and bought by its members.
Alpaca owners can sell fleece for very good prices to spinners and weavers for hand-made products.
They are sheared once a year, in the summer,
Good quality alpaca fiber sold at the farm gate fetched €80 to €100 per fleece. They are highly intelligent and very lovable creatures
“I first saw them seven years ago,” said Bernie, “in Saratoga Springs upstate New York.
“I bought four and that started it all off. I was involved with horses and wanted something easier!”
Alpacas are safe and gentle and easy to handle. They don’t bite. Their digestive system is 30 per cent more efficient than sheep and is highly resistant to internal parasites.
And even though they are gentle, they have been used by sheep farmers to guard sheep against attacks from foxes.
Bernie’s alpacas are very important to her and she makes sure they get very good homes.
They even have their own names, Casper and Finnegan and Jackson, are just a few.
Bernie is keeping the herd small so that she can focus on quality rather than quantity.
She is committed to offering buyers a high standard of after sales service to assist new owners in all aspects of alpaca husbandry.
Because she cares about these beautiful animals and wants them to be well cared for in their new homes as well as making alpaca ownership an enjoyable experience.
“We’re learning about alpacas everyday, they really are fascinating animals, life would be very dull without them!”
You can find out more about Mullagh Lane Alpacas by visiting their website: www.mullaghlanealpacas.ie
“These are exotic pets who are bought by people from all sorts of backgrounds.”