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Alpaca Meat Growing in Popularity in Australia

The meat is extremely lean and described as tasting somewhere between lamb and veal.
But many breeders of this particular livestock might not be able to stomach the thought of actually eating it.
Alpacas in Australia are predominantly bred for their fleece, but now the demand for their meat is growing very quickly.
Ian Frith breeds alpacas on his farm at Berry in southern NSW for both.
"That's the only way to exist as a farmer, is that we've got to be able to use the animal all the way through," he said.
"You use the fleece, use the genetics and then also use the meat and hides, and that way it's a sustainable commercial farming enterprise."
He says the business has only been selling alpaca meat for the last 18 months.
"We're very much in the embryo stage, we've got to crawl before we walk and run, but this year alone we've exceeded 10 tonnes of meat to the market," he said.
"By the end of this financial year we'll be well close to 20 tonnes of alpaca meat delivered to restaurants, hotels and the market."
He says he can't export yet because of the demand for the meat locally.
"We've had overseas orders but I can't fill them," he said.
"I want to make sure that we've got a sustainable market here, and that we can support it because if you don't support and you don't supply, they'll soon leave you and drop you like a hot potato."
Mr Frith says alpacas are no longer an expensive animal to buy.
"Twenty years ago when the animals first came in, yes you were looking at $20,000, $25,000, $60,000," he said.
"My stud animals, yes I've got one there insured for $250,000, a boy, and I've got others that are well up on that range, but they're breeding and my genetics.
"But these ones we buy, we breed; it's not expensive because they're not the creme de la creme, they're being bred for their confirmation and their meat."
For meat production, the Huacaya breed is preferable over the Suri alpaca.
"We find with Suris, while the meat is exactly the same, they don't carry the same amount of body of meat, because they've got a flimsier frame," he said.
"When we kill the animals we look at dressing at 58 to 59 per cent, which gives us a 40 kilo carcass and that's the Huacaya.
"We're looking at animals that will come in consistently around that dress weight of around 39 to 40 kilos, which gives us a consistency in the market so our end users know exactly what they're getting for their money.
"It's not just the consistency in the weight, but in the quality of the product."
Mr Frith says that the University of Sydney and RIDRC is into its first year of research into the viability of the alpaca market, the meat and its nutrition.
"We've got the preliminary results, but we have a confidentiality agreement until the PHD study has finished," he said.
But the alpaca meat producer says at 94 to 95 per cent fat free and because of that leanness, it's a very good meat for us.
"It's very high in iron, very high in protein, very low in cholesterol, but it can also be very unforgiving when you're cooking, because it hasn't got that fat in it," he said.
"But if you can cook kangaroo and you can cook venison, then you can cook alpaca, because the same principles apply; it's either quick or its long, there's no in between."
Some of the alpaca cuts include strip loin, rump, shoulder roll and back strap.
"The neck rosettes make the greatest osso bucco, the rack is better than any rack of lamb I've tasted, and the tenderloins are just incredible," he said.
"All the legs are smoked because of the demand in the delis and restaurants, it's the most fantastic meat, it's double hot smoked and has got a shelf life of 12 weeks."
He says every part of the alpaca carcass is used except the brain.
"But the offals all used; the heart, the kidneys, the liver."
Millpaca Alpaca Stud will be holding open days as part of the National Alpaca Week next month. To learn more about Millpaca, please visit their website at