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The Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Victorian Eastern Region of the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Resources >> Marketing >> Value of Wethers


 

 – by Joanne Ham

For quite a while now I have shuddered at the prices breeders are willing to sell their alpaca wethers for. I understand lower prices as pets but not as herd guards and this is why.

The average wether will live for 15 years and working on a pair of alpacas costing $500 each (I will ignore the GST component for ease of use) I will show real figures of what the value of the pair will be in real terms to the farmer.

I believe I can quote these figures reliably because we have 2800 breeding ewes and have been using the alpaca wethers as herd guards for the past 7 years. We have done experiments such as running the herd guards with our Corriedale ewes for their first lambing (130% lambs), no herd guards for their second lambing (98% lambs) and putting the herd guards back in for their third lambing (130%lambs). This mob was run over the same paddocks on the same property for the duration of these figures.

 



 

We only ever run them in pairs and often in threes with great results. Only when there is no “guarding” to be done do the alpacas congregate over a fence. If there is work to be done then they are on the job. I often see one pair relaxing and eating whilst the other is “on guard”. I believe they much run in at least pairs.

I also need to dispel the belief the BEW (blue-eyed white) deaf boys don’t work. Pure Poppy-cock!!! I run pairs of BEW boys to see if they have a different lambing percentage compared to their coloured hearing counterparts. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. Further, as proof, with the Corriedale experiment above the first group of guard boys were hearing and the second lot guarding the third lambing were not.

 What we have experienced with our 1st X ewe is about a 10% increase in lambing. Our Corriedale ewes have increased lambing by 30% and I have heard (we don’t have any) that Merino ewes have had increases of up to 60%.



A mob of 200 X bred sheep that lamb at 100% means 200 lambs. An increase in lambing of 10% means and extra 20 lambs. Lambs are averaging $120/head through the saleyards at the moment so that is $2400 for one year. Sheep breed for about 6 years so that is a saving of $14,400

A pair of alpacas guard on duty for 12 years equates to a total saving of $28,800 given a 10% increase in lambing for a mob of 200 ewes every year.

If you sell your wethers for $500 each it is a cost to the farmer of $1000 or it will cost them 3 cents per lamb saved over a 12 year period.

All the above figures are real and have been quoted on the conservative side.