Alpacas to strut their stuff at Moss Vale show

FLEECE: The 2016 Charles Ledger Alpaca Show in Moss Vale, which is running again this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17.

FLEECE: The 2016 Charles Ledger Alpaca Show in Moss Vale, which is running again this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17.

They’re furry, friendly and the reason behind some of Australia's finest wool.

This weekend Highlanders will have the chance to learn more about alpacas and see the animals up close. 

More than 250 alpacas will be brought together for the Charles Ledger Alpaca Show in Moss Vale. 

Beginning in 1998, the show is now in its 19th year and attracts alpaca breeders from across the nation. 

There will be two breeds of alpacas on display – suris, with the long dreadlock-style fleece, and the more common huacaya, which sport more of a woolly-looking fleece.

Sharon Dawson has convened the event ever since it moved to Moss Vale from Liverpool in 2010. 

She has been breeding the animal for nine years. 

Ms Dawson said alpacas are ideal for the Highlands region because they thrive in the same environment as sheep, but cause much less damage to the land.

“They’re called ‘environmentally friendly’ animals because they have soft padded feet, which don’t damage the ground,” she said. 

“And they don’t pull the grass out by the root – they only have teeth on the bottom and they just graze.”

“They’re the most efficient feeders of any livestock. They get the most out of the food on the ground.”

Although alpacas are notorious for spitting in the faces of those that come too close, Ms Dawson (who has first hand experience) said this is a defence mechanism, only used when the animals feel threatened. 

The show is named after Charles Ledger, who introduced alpacas to Australia in 1858.

Mr Ledger was trading alpaca wool and cinchona bark in Peru when he was asked by the NSW government to bring a flock of alpacas to the state. 

He spent seven years selectively breeding alpacas and llamas and preparing them for a long sea voyage to Sydney. 

In November, 1858 Charles Ledger and his 12 South American shepherds accompanying 250 animals (alpacas, llamas and vicunas) arrived in Australia after a sea journey of 87 days.

The show will run from 9am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16 at the Moss Vale Showgrounds.

There will be alpacas on display, as well as yarn and alpaca-themed goodies available to buy. 

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