Alpacas adapt well to the English environment
A smallholding in Cambridgeshire is leading the way in farming the alpaca by breeding to improve the quantity and quality of its fleece.
Janet and Peter Garner established Morden Hall Alpacas in 1997 at Guilden Morden, on the borders of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
They began with three alpacas, but now have a herd of 40.
The animals are bred for their fleece, which is a fine, hollow fibre that is made into soft warm garments.
Peter Garner takes samples of the fleece every year to measure the diameter of the fibre.
He said: "The lower the diameter, the finer the fibre will be and the softer the garment that is made from it."
But Peter Garner said that at the moment alpaca farming is a breeding industry.
They are descended from the camelids of South America
Each animal produces up to 6kgs of fibre each year
The gestation period is eleven-and-a-half months
Baby alpaca are called cria
The fleece sheared from Morden Hall alpacas is sent to the British Alpaca Fibre Cooperative who process the fleece into finished products.
The Garners do not make any profit from the fleeces.
Peter Garner said: "We need to build up the numbers of alpacas in the country to make the harvesting of the fleece a viable proposition."