Our Alpaca Herd
Welcome to our little online alpaca-world. In this area of the website, you can find information about our herd, our products and services, and also our alpaca experiences – if you would like to meet them.
A little intro to our herd: We specialise in coloured alpacas, with the aim being to breed rose greys and silver greys.
Our herd is humble when compared to commercial breeders, and we try our best to keep it that way. Our females do not give birth in the middle of a large field; they give birth at home, in the hustle and bustle of a smallholding life, surrounded by chickens, emus, dogs, ducks, sheep, and people – everything to ensure the young cria grows up with experience and zero fear. After a couple of months, females and cria are turned out into the big fields, until it’s time to wean the cria, at which point they come back home again.
By keeping our head of herd under 30 animals, it means we can continue to do this, providing people with friendly, inquisitive, personable animals and experiences when you meet our alpacas. It means we have a close relationship with the individuals of the herd. They know us and we know them through and through, which makes it all the more easier to look after them and spot any problems.
“Why do we keep alpacas?”
Alpacas are cute, we won’t disagree with that, but they are first, and foremost, fibre animals. They were bred to produce one of the most luxurious fibres in the world.
Its most remarkable quality is its softness – alpaca fibre is inherently soft. This is due to the fact it has less scales on each individual fibre, compared to sheep’s wool – which has many, and more prominent scales. Even at its coarsest, alpaca is inherently softer than sheep’s wool and often a certain percentage of alpaca fibre is added to sheep’s wool during the woollen process to enhance the handle or feel.
The lack of scales and smoothness of the fibre also gives alpaca a natural brightness as the smoother surface reflects the light better.
Knitters adore alpaca and rapidly become addicted to it once they have felt the softness and quality of the yarns. South Americans use a lot of heavy, bright dyes on their yarns which suit the garments and products they want to make for their home market. However, here in Europe, the allure is the vast range of natural colours. The natural, subtle – but expansive – colour palette offered by the alpaca is one of its main attractions.
At shearing time, we have raw fleece available to buy. If you are a spinner, you will appreciate that alpaca fleece contains minimal lanolin, which means it doesn’t need the scouring that sheep’s wool requires, prior to use.
Have a look in our online shop to see some of the fleece and yarn we have available.
ORIONTREE is run as a not-for-profit.
Every penny is put straight back into the farm, starting with the day-to-day care of the animals; whether that be feed, routine treatments, health supplements or vet visits.
We also have the on-going maintenance of dilapidated outbuildings that we are restoring and converting to practical space for the animals. A couple of such projects have been the conversion of an old metal lean-to into a spacious, airy poultry house for our retired, infirm and pet flock; and the conversion of ancient (1946!) turkey pens into an airy barn enclosure serving both as winter housing for the male alpacas and summer shelter for the females, when they are home for giving birth.
Finally, if there is anything left over, we are constantly striving to expand and develop new experiences to bring our world of alpacas, chickens, emus and ethical ways to more people. Some examples include care home visits and we have developed a fantastic educational workshop, with STEM activities and tied into the curriculum, but we want to improve it further, bringing more of the world of alpacas to children across the country.
Every penny you donate goes straight to these projects. There are no staff, no wages, no web-developers. Everything is done in-house and with the help of some fabulous volunteers. Help us create something special for everyone.