When Keryn Burns was looking for a livestock breed she could run to get out of the city, she would hardly have dreamed to be where she is today.
Keryn now runs Mandala Alpacas six kilometres outside of Rylestone, but it is not here where she has made her mark in the industry.
She has been involved with the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW and the Sydney Royal Show Alpaca Competition since 2015 and each year has become more involved culminating in taking on convenor and chief steward duties.
Keryn has been president of the Australian Alpaca Association NSW Region for four years now after spending a number of years on the committee.
In 2019, Keryn received the Champion of the RAS award, recognising her work for the society and the breed in general.
She marvels at how her journey into alpacas began.
"The people stood out as being particularly helpful when I was making enquiries," Keryn said.
"They weren't just interested in making a sale, they genuinely wanted top help you find your feet as well.
"Before I bought a large number of alpacas, my father made me do a business plan and after I enrolled and completed an alpaca course at Richmond Tafe, I agisted them for five years before I moved to Rylestone and started the stud in 2010."
When Keryn first moved to Rylestone she had a herd of 10 alpacas and at its height the stud ran 90 animals.
De-stocking from the drought has seen numbers decline, but the stud is back to around 50 alpaces.
"We haven't run a breeding program for five or six years because of the drought," Keryn said.
"It has put us behind the eight ball, but we are buying in new genetics in the form of stud males now to try and catch up."
Keryn runs her stud while still organising the show competition.
"I generally start planning seriously in September for the next Sydney Royal the following April," she said.
"That involves getting marketing out to members, sorting contracts and everything that has to happen with Sydney Royal themselves.
"We're in an unusual position.
"As we are self-administered, we have to follow the Australian Alpaca Association and RAS rules.
"And there are grey areas in between.
"Also, the show running for such a long period of time adds more challenges to deal with including parking and housing.
"Organising the human side can sometimes be harder than organising the animal side of it!
"It takes a lot of work."
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