FOR almost 20 years the alpacas at the Bringarum Alpaca Stud on the edge of town have been welcoming and farewelling travellers to Murrumburrah.
Local dentist Hugo Sachs and wife Mandy started the stud about 18 years ago.
Daughter Jess Sachs is now running the operation and while it will remain a stud farm she has decided to dramatically expand the family operation.
She has set herself a goal of helping ensure that the alpaca industry moves away from its hobby farm status into a fully fledged industry in its own right.
She says she has always been involved with her parents’ stud and now has 100 alpacas at her Jugiong Road property. Her goal is to build up the numbers to 2,000 within the next five to 10 years based around having 750 breeders.
She says to date the alpaca industry has been dominated by people largely involved in showing their animals as opposed to focusing on promoting the benefits of alpaca wool or alpaca meat.
There is a large and growing demand for alpaca wool and the alpaca meat industry is starting to take off.
One of the advantages of alpaca wool is that it does not contain any lanolin which means less cleaning and scouring is required to turn a fleece into fibre ready for use. Much of the fibre is used in producing jumpers but others are now starting to produce different products such as face masks for firefighters. Other potential areas Jess says the industry is looking at expanding into are the home insulation market as well as carpets.
Additionally, alpaca fibre is more hypoallergenic than sheep’s wool, which means it is better for people suffering allergies.
But before the industry can fully realise its potential in these areas the industry needs to get a lot bigger.
Jess says she loves the industry and will be helping convene the alpaca section at this year’s Canberra Show.