On Australia Day 2020, it will be 25 years since I chose and purchased my first alpaca.
“Chose” might be an overstatement, as there was only one for sale. In 1995 in Tasmania, alpacas were thin on the ground and nobody was selling.
I didn’t have the experience or confidence to consider a trip interstate to purchase and so that local girl came home with me, accompanied by her llama-like companion. (dear old Ben) I thought Laura was wonderful.
With the benefit of hindsight, a blue-eyed white, mated to a grey male might not have been the best recommendation for a new breeder to start with. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing came of that little foray into alpaca breeding.
Some months later, I purchased her black mother, an original Chilean import, the magnificent and very Chilean Regal Girl, a fiery old thing with a white blaze on her forehead. Also unsurprisingly, Regie gave me a number of very pretty tuxedo blacks with fleece like border collie hair. But I was by then a fledgling “Black Breeder”, a niche that I decided on fairly quickly.
A year or two into my alpaca life, I had the opportunity to reshape my herd, refining my niche of sound black. The herd progressed. In 2004 there was a further review of my goals when I was able to access quality Peruvian black genetics and gradually the Wharncliffe herd started to move towards today’s look. Since then there have been some wonderful comments from Judges about the lustre, colour and handle of Wharncliffe fleeces and have been awarded a Supreme Championship. multiple Best Blacks and other Broad ribbons. Significantly, Wharncliffe pairs have won or placed in both Sire’s and Dam’s progeny awards at Tasmanian Shows over the past few years. This has been achieved by putting as much emphasis on the quality of the females as on the herd sires.
Being on a small property - and wedded to my house and garden - my goalposts have become increasingly narrow. I do not have the room to follow the many interesting byways that black breeding can offer. No space to house the browns and fawns that would appear if I followed the common path of using a dense fawn male to add some of the structure needed by blacks - and no space to deal with the fawns and greys that would eventuate if I used a fabulous grey.
I was told 20 years ago that “the best blacks come out of greys”. It can be true and would be fun.
But here’s the thing: my best blacks come out of blacks.
The Wharncliffe blacks have now developed a look: sound conformation, true, inky blackness and a silky, soft handling fleece that you just want to smother yourself with. To the best of my ability my alpacas are black out of black out of black.
Others do it differently, using greys and fawns and their blacks are frequently outstanding. I’m aware that there are characteristics - such as extreme density - that I might never develop in the herd to the same extent. However when you live with blacks, even in our cool Tasmanian climate, you realise that extreme density in a black might not be the best thing in terms of animal welfare. I’m far more interested in how the fleece handles, how consistent are the offspring and for how many years will the fleece remain useful.
Over the past 25 years, having gone through various phases, I’m now less hung up on the numbers. Instead: how does it handle? How consistent is it over the body of the animal? Does the judge have to get down on his/her knees under the belly to find where it runs off? The answers to these questions, in order, are: It handles beautifully. Consistency is improving. Yes the judge has to look hard.
And by the by, the numbers are good, according tested samples. First fleeces are 17-18 micron with SDs between 2.8 and 3.6. 16-year-olds still produce 19m fleece. Most are under 25m in any age group and those that aren’t, feel as if they are.
Females from the 2017 and 2018 drop are now available for sale to committed breeders whose goals align with our signature of soft handling, lustrous, true black alpaca.
Since 2007 our goal has been to help alpaca growers value add their fleece by processing to any specification. As alpaca breeders ourselves, we recognise that value adding plays an integral role in the future viablity of the Australian alpaca indusrty.
Our reputation for quality processing is built on our in-depth knowledge of alpaca fibre and our desire to create a product that does justice to the fibre of the gods.
Alpaca comes in infinite variations, which can make processing it rather challenging. With over 25 years experience as alpaca breeders and over 10 years as fibre processors we know how to get the best out of your fleece
We have a complete suite of mill equipment made specifically for the cottage industry that is capable of processing all natural fibres.
Our mill's versatility means we can process small batches (down to a single fleece) separately, which allows people to trace their product to a single alpaca, or we can process large batches by combining fleeces.
As well as processing on consignment, we produce our own home grown luxurious yarns and products under the brand of Alpaca Allure.
Our Alpaca Allure products are specially selected from fleeces that are grown, harvested and processed sustainably & ethically entirely on our farm from our own Glenavon Alpaca herd,
or sourced from other select farms using our stringent quality specifications.
Stevley Park Suris
50 Shades of Brown
We have bred many broad ribbon winners and our breeding program is now at the stage to offer quality affordable packages.
Check out our sales list www.stevleypark.com.au
On farm husbandry and shearing workshops are available on request. Having been in the industry for nearly 20 years we enjoy giving back and offer mentoring, help with farm layout and ongoing support for new customers and new members entering the industry.
Futura Alpaca Stud
The Futura Story
Established in 1993 by Greg & Judy Smith.
Our 100 acre (40ha) farm is in Albany on the South Coast of Western Australia.This region of W.A. has mild weather with regular rainfall ensuring lush pastures – perfect alpaca country.
Committing to the alpaca industry twenty-six years ago has given our life a focus and enabled us to live a wonderful lifestyle which many can only dream of.
How do you measure success?
- Is it breeding strong, healthy animals?
- Is it seeing dramatic improvement in fleece quality?
- Is it succeeding in the show ring?
- Is it making money?
- Is it having a purpose and motivation?
- Is it interacting with likeminded people?
- Is it belonging to a viable livestock industry?
We at Futura can proudly say YES to all the above.
Ribbons and trophies adorn our home but sharing this journey as a couple with our family and extended alpaca family is what has made this so worthwhile and rewarding.
We welcome enquiries as we release a limited number of alpacas for sale each year.
Story Book Alpacas
ALPACA: Remarkable, Unique, and Australian.
“Once upon a time” is a catchphrase that, according to the Oxford Dictionary, has been used as the opening lines for storytelling since the 1380s. These stories to end with “they all lived happily ever after” – and Storybook Alpacas is such a tale.
Once upon a time there was a family who shared a love and belief in the notion of Carpe Diem – Seize the Day – make your life extraordinary. This has lead them into a life of adventures: Martial Arts (Just for Kicks Taekwondo), Olives, and Alpaca Breeding.
Our initial involvement commenced in 2003 when our daughter was but 3 years of age – height wise, cria size. Rubey’s first childhood recollections are walking amongst alpacas in the paddocks and holding pens at Coolaroo when we were selecting our preliminary herd.
For us, at Storybook Alpacas, our commitment is to the entirety of the Alpaca, the sustainability of Australian Agriculture, and to the passion for the development of genetically bred champions.
Storybook Alpacas are excited to be a part of this wonderful industry, now and happily ever after!