Shopping Suris to the world

Brookfield alpaca farm exporting to the world

Smart Farmer News
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Banjo Ridge Suri Alpaca Farm at Brookfield is leading the way in sustainable agriculture - with alpacas as their stock.

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The rusty old truck at the entrance to Bronwen and Michael Redgate's Brookfield, NSW, property makes a familiar, picturesque sight for regular travellers on Clarence Town Road.

The scene is even more intriguing as the countryside is dotted not with cattle - but alpacas.

The former city couple moved to their idyllic 40-hectare Brookfield property eight years ago to raise their three children.

In a bid to make the most of their property in an environmentally sustainable way they bought their first few alpacas about five years ago.

"We really started by accident," Bronwen said.

"After we had them shorn for the first time we had to decide what to do."

Now they have a herd of 70 to 100 alpacas and are slowly growing Banjo Ridge Suri Alpaca Farm.

They are breeders of Suri alpacas, whose fleece is coveted for the lustrous yarn it creates.

They sell a large range of hand-dyed suri locks which are used for felting, tailspinning or turning into craft batts, shipping it to Russia, Poland and the United States.

"People don't tend to get that prickly feeling wool can give," Bronwen said of the suri yarn.

"It is highly sought-after as it drapes so well, so is great for shawls and scarves, and is used to make Italian suits," she said.

The Redgates' commitment to sustainable and ethical practices has seen them source a mill at Orange for the fleece processing. It is hand-washed to clear it of the expected vegetation from the free-roaming alpacas and hand-dyed.

"We could have sent it overseas, which would have been cheaper, but that defeats the purpose of what we are trying to do," Bronwen said.

Alpacas have a low environmental footprint as their padded foot means they are gentle on the pasture and their compaction of the soil is significantly reduced.

The alpacas have two commercial purposes - their sought-after wool and for the surplus males in the herd, the emerging meat market.

The stock are sent to a specialist abattoir in Illawarra licensed for alpacas and the meat is sold to the gourmet meat market.

While she said they are an intriguing animal, Bronwen believes they are certainly not pets.

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