New Alpaca farm charms tourists in Sutton
By Manfried H. Starhemberg
For a little over a year now, 27 year old James Lamoreux and wife Jennifer Tevyaw have raised Alpaca on their small farm on Jordan road in Sutton. Part of the camelid family, Alpacas are actually small llamas but they are rare, are an expoensive and special breed and are most valued for the incredible fine fiber they produce.
"The Alpaca fiber contains no lanolin as do sheep, they are hypo allergenic, will last in a dry environment almost indefinitely, as can be proved by thousand year old garments found in the Andies, which showed little or no sign of deterioration" states James, also a loving father of a three year old and an 18 month old child.
Of all fiber producing animals, the Alpaca has the largest variety of fiber colors which range from pure white to a variety of greys, reds, browns and even a fine orange. In Canada, the Alpaca farming industry is represented by a number of provincial breeders associations and national councils which aid new farmers in getting started. The initial cost of the females is quite high, while a male can be obtained reasonably. The beauty of the beast i,s that one acre of grazing area can easily feed up to five grown animals and since they live exclusively on grass and hay, there is very little need for supplemental feeding.
Not ready for breeding yet, this cute little male gazes anxiously across the fence of his lonely paddock. "Next year he'll be all right" smiles James. Meanwhile we have a pregnant female to worry about.
Alpacas are small endearing animals. They were domesticated over 5,000 years ago, and became a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization. Their fine cashmere-like fleece was reserved solely for royalty. These amazing animals provided the food, fuel and clothing for a civilization that thrived in an otherwise hostile environment.
Alpacas have a life span of 20 - 25 years. Adults weigh 100 - 175 lbs and stand 34 - 36 inches at the withers. Baby alpacas, called cria, generally weigh 14 - 20 lbs at birth. Gestation is around 11 months. Alpacas communicate through soft humming noises and unique body language.
Alpacas have two different fleece types with quite different characteristics - huacaya-fleece and suri-fleece. Often the alpacas are referred to as simply huacaya or suri. The huacaya, the most common, has a crimped or wavy fleece whereas the suri has straight, lustrous, fine fibre. In full fleece, the huacaya has a full, fluffy appearance, while the suri is elegantly draped in long pencil locks. Alpacas are the only animals in the world that come in so many different colours , there are 22 officially recognised. Prized for its unique silky feel and superb handle, alpaca fibre is highly sought after by the large textile manufacturers of Europe and Asia . Various worsted and woollen mills across Canada offer custom processing of alpaca fibre - carding, blending, dyeing and processing into many products. Sweaters, blankets, mitts, socks, shawls, hats, duvets can be purchased through various home based businesses.
Alpaca fleece is at the head of specialty fibre industries world-wide. They are clean, intelligent, peaceful animals that are easily handled and are safe around children; caring for them is not difficult. Fences should be designed to keep out dogs, coyotes and other predators. A three-sided enclosure or lean-to is adequate for shade, as well as winter wind protection. Alpacas require 2 pounds of low protein hay daily, and fresh water. They defecate in fixed areas, thus clean-up and parasite control is a relatively easy job. Alpaca droppings are almost odourless, and are high in nitrogen and potassium, making them an excellent fertilizer. They are easily transported in a pick-up, van or trailer and usually lie down in transit. Alpacas are extremely hardy and adaptable to most climates, elevations and conditions.
Eventually James wishes to open up his place for tourists, explain to them about the history and breeding of the animals and make this a fun place for people to visit. Meanwhile, he and his wife still have regular jobs "on the side", to feed not only the herd but their own growing family. But if his enthusiasm is any indication, this young couple will make as success of it in Sutton.
The farm is located at the intersection of Jordan and Dymond roads, between Sutton and Dunham.