Students learn, the alpaca way
STEPHANIE has swapped fractions and figures for fleece and farm life.
Through The Rockhampton Grammar School’s initiative, local students like Stephanie Newman, 14, have paired-up with Pfeiffer Park Alpacas to learn everything there is to know about these gentle creatures.
The school is one of only half a dozen in Queensland to provide this kind of opportunity to pupils.
Like others in her agricultural science class, Stephanie loves the subject’s hands-on approach.
“It’s really fun, I love working with the Alpacas; they’re so cute!” she said.
Animal husbandry, grooming, shearing, feeding, breeding, conception and birth are all on the curriculum.
Agricultural science co-ordinator, Barbara Pitt, explained how valuable the practical experience was for the fledgling farm-hands.
“They learn how to determine the health of the animals, how to handle the animals and eventually they will learn how to show the animals,” Ms Pitt said.
“In addition to learning all the basics, they get to experience emotional and physical bonding with the animal, it’s really very exciting.”
This excitement peaked when students, who now have five alpacas under their care, welcomed baby Emmaline to the herd.
“Alpacas have a gestation period of around 12 months, so the students were able to watch Bernadette progress throughout her pregnancy,” local farm owner Kelli Pfeiffer said.
“Emmaline was born late November and is a show-quality Huacaya elite, she has the most beautiful fleece.”
Students also learn all about fleece and the process it goes through to become a saleable product.
A public open day will be held at the farm on January 26.