8 May 2017

Alpacas: very expensive pets?

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:32 pm on 8 May 2017

To mark National Alpaca day we meet one alpaca owner, RNZ's own Hawkes Bay reporter Peter Fowler, who had grand plans to make his fortune from the woolly animals. It didn't exactly work.

It was 2002, and Peter went along to the Hawke's Bay A & P show where there were some very cute alpacas for sale.

"After hearing about them and how their fibre was the fibre of the gods and the Italian fashion markets loved them, and I started having visions of starting up my own Hapua Fashion label".

So he bought three alpacas, took them to his farm and began shearing them regularly.

But the money didn't roll in. It kept rolling out. So he bought some pregnant females to try and increase his chances of making money. It still didn't work.

“I ended up buying three pregnant females which back in 2002 were $7000 each, I ended up spending about $30,000 on these things."

Peter admits he didn't put enough time or effort into alpacas, but also reckons they might have been a bit of a fad. At the most recent A & P show he says there were no alpacas for sale, and he says his neighbour can't even give his alpacas away.

He says his mother did make him a jersey from the shorn wool of his alpacas.

“My mother’s part of a spinning group, she spun it all up into wool and I’ve got what I call my $30,000 jersey.”

Peter says it's a very beautiful, soft and warm jersey.

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