Alpacas turn a woolly profit
WHAT started as a hobby almost three years ago is quickly becoming a successful business venture for Capricorn Coast alpaca farmer Kelli Pfeiffer.
With another shearing season now behind her, the mum of two is looking to continue breeding and showing her award-winning animals and fleeces.
After flying in a specialist alpaca shearer from Victoria earlier this month to trim up about 75 animals, Kelli estimates Pfeiffer Park Alpacas produced more than 200 kilograms of the highly sought-after alpaca wool this shearing season.
“The nation's herd is growing at such a rate that the 12 qualified shearers in Queensland don't have enough time to shear the entire expanding herd.
“He had 20 years experience in the industry and has been shearing for ten,” Kelli said.
While it's not the same process as shearing sheep, Kelli has almost fifty bags full of wool in her shed ready to be distributed.
“I'll send fleece samples to be tested at the lab to rank them in order of best quality to least quality.”
From there, some of the fleeces will be selected for showing at various agricultural Shows around the country, including the Brisbane Ekka where Kelli's fleeces were awarded a first and second place in the “all other colours” category this year.
“Fleeces are judged on the length, weight, fineness, density and cleanliness but the most important quality is the lustre because that is unique to alpacas,” she said.
The other fleeces will be spun by local spinners and made into products including yarn, shirts, slippers, jumpers and vests which are then taken back to the farm for sale.
“I try to put as much money back into the local economy as I can,” she said.
While Kelli runs the business predominantly by herself, her husband Richard sometimes lends a hand.
“Alpacas are so easy to handle that even the kids can help me with most things,” Kelli said.
With plans to expand her own herd even further, Kelli says she's turned a profit every year and nothing is wasted.
“We sell everything from the livestock themselves, to the fleeces and even their poo for fertiliser,” she said.
“I'm doing really well and I really enjoy it.”