Record China alpaca shipment

The West Australian

Australian alpaca farmers have followed 2014's record shipment of 525 premium live alpaca breeding stock with a larger shipment of 616 animals, which travelled by air last week from Melbourne to Baotou City, Inner Mongolia.

A significant proportion of the shipment, 27 per cent, were sourced from WA.

The six double-tier semitrailers of alpacas were trucked into Tullamarine to form a total consignment of 39 tonnes of live alpacas.

The carefully selected animals travelled with fresh water supplies on hand in custom-designed crate enclosures and were managed by a team of handlers, arriving in China in peak condition.

With Australian exporters set to follow this shipment with another in a few weeks to other customers in China, and other consignments in advanced planning, the textile superpower's commitment to quality Australian genetics in the establishment of its base in the prestige fibre sector is clear.

Alpaca export specialist Steve Ridout, of Wildflower Alpaca Exports, said the interest from China was broad-based, coming from a number of organised and experienced rural operators in various parts of the country.

"We're not only providing quality livestock to China, but we also back that up with a full consulting service," he said.

"We've provided specialty equipment and advice and medications, and we will be returning to China in the coming months to present a series of workshops further skilling these new owners in world's-best husbandry and development practices.

"China believes deeply, as we do, in the future of alpaca".

Australia is respected around the world for its credentials as a producer of natural fibres, and knowledge generated for the wool industry has provided significant commercial value to the emerging alpaca industry.

Australia has one of the largest alpaca herds in the world, with more than 170,000 registered animals.

Alpacas are known as an eco-friendly livestock option, valued for their elite wool fibre and healthy gourmet meat.

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