Home Farming Building the herd

Building the herd

Melinda Brown, owner of Toffee Woods Alpacas admits to making every mistake in the book when she first got into Alpacas. Since then she has made it
her mission to learn everything she can about these versatile livestock – and share the information with others.
“I find that in the area there’s a lot of hobby farmers they want to put something on the land to act as a lawnmower, keep the grass down, pets for the
kids or grandchildren – they have 5 or ten acres and they want some animals. I try to say to people they should choose alpacas over sheep and the reasons are: They don’t tear the food out of the ground, they eat it down. They have a split lip and palate designed to do that; They have toenails not hooves, so they are very gentle on the ground. They don’t rip up the ground like sheep and goats and horses and cattle – they are very soft footed; And they poo in communal poo piles, so they don’t graze where they are pooing – therefore they won’t have the worm burden or the bacterial burden; And they are clean breach, so you don’t have to mules them – they don’t get fly-strike! The maintenance with an alpaca is once a year, bring it in, shear it, do it’s husbandry things, give it it’s vaccinations and it goes again. They are inquisitive, friendly and trainable animals, so people who have children who want to come and give them a cuddle they can.”
Melinda runs a registered stud, breeding and showing her high quality animals. She sells her white fleeces mainly at markets where spinners and weavers pay a good price for the coveted fibre. “Alpaca is so new in WA it’s hard to put together a consistent commercial bale – many growers form co-operatives so they can market their fleeces better.” Melinda believes that in growing the herd locally, Western Australians will be better placed to sell the product overseas and it’s her aim to support the industry as a whole.
“I’ve become a passer-on of animals really, I take in alpacas of all sorts and find good homes for them, offering their new owners all the support they need.
If people are after pets – or are sheep farmers looking for herd protection – I can help.” Melinda will have alpacas on display at the Taste of Chittering this month. If you have any enquiries you can drop in and have a chat or phone her on 0438 925 624.