We have not applied for Organic Certification, but we do endeavour to “walk the walk”. Our animals have the usual vaccinations but are not routinely wormed as we are concerned about the growing incidence of drench-resistant parasites in farming. Worm burdens are monitored by faecal testing and the animals are given a range of natural additives to their feed which will help minimise any susceptibility to worms. Paddock vacuuming is a weekly task but we are hopeful that current research into dung beetles will result in an alpaca-specific beetle that will stay with us, rather than going to live with the horses next door.

Paddock Management

We have moved away from traditional chemical fertilisers and treatments to focus on soil health. Five years ago the paddocks were deep ripped with a Yeoman plough along the keylines, aerated with a spike aerator and compost was applied. They now have twice yearly applications of a tailored brew of compost teas, rich in funghi and other goodies. Ensuring a healthy, well drained soil makes the most of our rainfall and allows the existing seedbed to regenerate.

The Australian Alpaca Association administers a voluntary biosecurity programme, Q-Alpaca. Q-Alpaca monitors participating studs and establishes management practices that will minimise the risk of introducing disease to a property. The disease outbreak experienced by the equine industry in 2006, indicates that biosecurity will be an important part of farm management, whether a pet-owner or stud breeder. Wharncliffe’s Q-Alpaca Number is 08/0319 (MN1 equiv)