2012-06-14 / Front Page
‘Shear’ genius: Local alpaca farmers spin fiber into gold
Bob Goldman and Liz Monteverde raise alpacas on their home farm
Goldman and Liz Monteverde own six alpacas on 4.6 acres of land behind their home, breeding the SouthAmerican camelids for their fiber, which can be spun and made into knitted and woven items, similar to wool.
“It’s really soft,” said the North Brunswick Township High School science teacher. “It’s a lighter weight, softer and warmer. A $40 sweater from sheep’s wool could be $140 from an alpaca. The quality is so much better.”
Goldman and Monteverde had heard about alpacas on a television commercial and decided to buy one, figuring it could be a good investment.
They visited several farms and decided to buy Callie, the mother of Duane, one of their current alpacas, about two years ago.
They then went and bought Three Socks. Three Socks came from Jersey Breeders in Tabernacle. When Three Socks was bred with Apollo’s Fire, from Flying Pony in Pennsylvania, Sweet Melissa was born; Sweet Melissa, who is named after an Allman Brothers’ song, is living at the Upper Freehold farm.
Goldman was looking for a granddaughter from Quechua, since he was considered to be the most influential sire from Snowmass Alpacas in Idaho, who is considered by many to be the most outstanding breeder in the world. Quechua’s Heartbeats Again — nicknamed Goldie after Kicky Betts Goldtop guitar — who was born last August, came from Creekside Hollow. She is the daughter of Quechua’s Heartbeats, who also came from Snowmass. As a side note, one of Quechua’s sons, Matrix, was one of the most expensive alpacas ever sold, fetching $675,000. Ernie was then purchased, with Artie coming next as a surprise Valentine’s Day gift, both from Dancing Horse Farm.
The alpacas are sheared once a year, with the prime location being their body, with fleece from their legs and neck being secondary. White is the most common, but they come in 22 colors, including tan and brown as well. The fleece can be dyed to any color.
“Imagine wearing the 10 warmest sweaters you’ve ever worn in your life. They’ve got that on them,” Goldman said.
Alpacas are sold to other breeders to keep the bloodline going. Goldman said no more alpaca imports are allowed into the United States.
Female alpacas are fit for breeding at 18 months, though Goldman is waiting until they are each 2 years old. Goldie has four breedings set up, either to Royal Asset or Samba, and to Frisky of Dancing Horse. Sweet Melissa will have her first of three breedings scheduled with Royal Exposure of Jersey Breeders, who is the son of Matrix.
Artiewill then be bred to Three Socks after she gives birth to the baby she is currently carrying. The gestational period is 11 months, but they can be impregnated again about two weeks after giving birth. Three Socks is awaiting the birth of her child from Talladega Nights, whose father is Bueno, an alpaca who commands $10,000 to be bred to because his fleece is so valuable.
Breedings can range from $500 to $10,000, Goldman said.
Besides being profitable for their fleece — and actually for their excrement, which is used as fertilizer — they also are cool as yard mates. They are pack animals, and generally get along well together. They boys neck wrestle, roll around and sometimes kick.
They are also affectionate toward people, Goldman said, but can be shy and afraid.
“They’re curious but sweet,” Goldman said of the pack, who likes to give kisses and be petted, much like a dog.
They are very low maintenance, Goldman said, requiring grass to graze, and some grain, which costs $25 per bag. They need to be wormed once amonth [“That’s not fun,” Goldman quipped] and their toenails need to be clipped.
They stay outside and are comfortable in cold weather and at night, so are more sensitive to the hot summer days.
“This is what they do,” Goldman said during a tour of his Eat a Peach Alpaca farm, named after an Allman Brothers album. “They eat grass and stare at people.”
Alpaca fur is their most important component, but their body structure, teeth and genitalia are evaluated as well during shows. The girls will be shown soon, and Ernie and Artie have been already been shown.
For more information on Eat a Peach, visit openherd.com/farms/2757/eat-a-peach-alpacas.