THE Australian alpaca industry will be meeting in Adelaide, South Australia for the 2014 Australian Alpaca Excellence Conference from May 9-12.
Breeders, hobbyists, veterinarians and industry figures will gather to present and hear about the state of the alpaca business, including breeding, animal health, genetics, fibre-quality, marketing and the growing export market.
The four day conference includes three days of workshops, speakers and trade displays, with two farm tours taking place on Monday, May 12. Tour attendees will visit boutique and large studs, including Softfoot Alpaca Stud, Yaringa Alpacas, Haylilla Alpacas and Ambersun Alpacas.
Australia’s alpaca industry has been drawing on the expertise and example set by Merino wool to further its place on the global market.
A large focus of the conference will be on the new export opportunities opening to countries like Turkey, China, Japan and Taiwan.
Turkey received its first shipment of Australian breeding Alpacas in a move to develop a national stud and the country, one of the largest textile producers in the world, represents a significant opportunity and testing ground for Australian breeders.
At the same time, China and Japan are working with Australia to develop export protocols as they seek to acquire their own breeding stock.
This demand is one reason that the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) has recently issued the industry with a stencil to guarantee alpaca fleece quality.
Australian Alpaca Association President Michelle Malt notes that there’s a need for the industry to work together to meet such a need, with a specialist Fibre Forum taking place during the conference.
“With alpaca fibre in unprecedented demand from international fashion designers, the challenge for all alpaca producing countries is to provide enough volume of the consistent, high quality fleece needed for commercial production,” Malt said.
Alpaca wellbeing is another topic on hand, with America’s leading camelid authority, Dr Chris Cebra, conducting several presentations on the alpaca health and management.
“Alpaca are highly durable animals well suited for Australian conditions and our industry has done impressive work on health, husbandry and disease management.”
The conference will also cover the growing alpaca meat market, which has found a foothold in Australia.
Dr Chris Cebra, Prof of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, World Camelid Authority
Dr. Christopher Cebra has worked with llamas and alpacas for over 20 years as a clinical veterinarian and researcher. He has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific reports on camelids and numerous lay articles, reviews, and book chapters. Most recently he finished his chapters for a new comprehensive textbook on llama and alpaca health care.
Dr Jane Vaughn, Australia’s World Expert on Alpaca Embryo Transfer
Dr Jane Vaughan graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with honours from the University of Melbourne in 1988. She spent 7 years working in rural practice around Australia and began working with alpacas in 1991 whilst working in dairy practice in south-eastern Australia. In 1996, Jane worked on Cocos Islands Quarantine Station for 12 months with more than 600 Peruvian alpacas during their importation to Australia.
Cameron Holt, World Alpaca Fleece Authority
Cameron Holt, a leading alpaca fibre expert, has had some 50 years in the fibre industry, namely as a wool broker, sheep classer, judge, and educator. He first became involved with the Australian alpaca industry when working at the Melbourne Institute of Textiles. Because of his background and long association with wool, mohair and cashmere industries, Cameron was asked by the founding fathers of the Australian Alpaca Association to develop an education program and to advise and set up standards for both the testing and judging of alpaca fleece.
David Michell, Michell Wool
Michell Wool Pty Ltd is the world's largest Carboniser of wool (approx. 15million Kgs pa), a significant buyer, processor and exporter of Australian wool. The company's primary headquarters and processing facilities remain at Salisbury but are now complemented by Michell Suzhou, a green fields wool processing plant built in China in 2006.
Ian Frith, Meat Industry Pioneer
After 35 years in the insurance & Marketing sector which included 25 years of running his own businesses with 250 staff and spreading to six countries across the globe, Ian turned his attention to one of his early ambitions, farming. Whilst working in his early years in rural NSW he spent time working with sheep and cattle but ten years ago commenced his affair with alpacas and then started serious breeding and production 6 years ago.
Softfood Alpaca Stud is an accomplished exhibitor and breeder of the animal. They have a 300 acre space where their stud runs. Their environmental record is impressive, restoring their old, overgrazed property in to a revitalised wetland. The Softfoot farm is carbon positive, running everything on renewable wind and solar energy. Their most recent success was at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, taking the Grand Champion Female, four champion places, five reserve champions and sixteen 1st place awards.
300 acre stud, Peruvian genetics, overgrazed land, wetlands, carbon positive, renewable wind and solar energy, trees for life,
Yaringa Alpaca Stud, based out of Currency Creek, has a peak herd size of around 400. As well as breeding, they also run a number of training sessions and workshops, herd management for smaller breeders, and student placement for veterinary and animal science students. They recently took Champion Male at the Sydney Show.
The Haylilla tour will cover the life of a boutique breeder. Set on 20 hectares with around 100 alpacas of varying colours, the owners of Haylilla run a business during the week and cover all of their farming duties on weekends.
Ambersun Alpaca Stud is run by Chris Williams and Adrienne Clarke, with a herd comprising of around 1000 alpacas in a mix of colours. They’ve taken over 120 supreme championships in their time breeding alpacas, as well three national supreme champion huacaya titles. Ambersun also have the largest leopard appaloosa herd in Australia and possibly the world, an interesting variation of alpaca with spotted coats.