By: Claire Mc Cormack
Photo: By Viktorija Lemtjugova
Photo Caption: Joe Phelan of the Irish Alpaca Association pictured with his flock in Hillside, Greystones, CO Wicklow.
The South American domesticated species are one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of protecting sheep flocks.
Yes, alpacas are now owned by around 150 people across Ireland, many of them farmers. Why we hear you ask? Well, it seems alpacas are highly skilled in not only recognising danger but alerting the surrounding flock to it.
The furry animals, who hail from the Andean mountains, warn the flock of lurking predators by making a sharp high-pitched shrieking noise, that'd do it.
They also attack smaller predators such as foxes and dogs with their front legs.
Joe Phelan, vice chairman of the Alpaca Association of Ireland says farmers are running up to three alpacas with their sheep, speaking to Farm Ireland he explained;
"Alpacas hate foxes and foxes hate alpacas. If a farmer has a fox problem, they will essentially eliminate that problem. In some cases they will fend off a single dog but not multiple dogs," he said.
"We're not sure why, it's just a fact of their nature. First, they will give a screech out as an alarm, they are always on the look out for danger because they themselves are prey animals."
Alpacas can live up to 25 years of age, and they're a herd animal, so it's recommended that farmers get two or three alpacas at a time.
We have to admit our knowledge of alpacas is quite limited, but now we can rest easy in the knowledge that the flocks of Ireland are being protected, also we really want one, maybe to protect the office. They're VERY cute.
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