New Kids on the Farm – introducing our two new arrivals

When we moved here to Axedale just over a year ago, we agreed to purchase the livestock that were currently grazing on the property – a dozen sheep, three steers and an alpaca. As we’ve previously outlined, the steers were later sold off when they became too troublesome to keep confined within our fences, and in the last few months our sheep numbers have fluctuated from as low as ten, to a new high of twenty-two with the birth of a dozen new lambs. All the while, the one constant has been Rosie, an alpaca who has spent many years here as a herd guard, keeping a watchful eye over each generation of new lambs.


With absolutely no knowledge of dealing with livestock and especially alpacas before we moved in, we did a lot of research into the best way to maintain their health and welfare, and one of the things that consistently came up in the literature was the fact that alpacas are herd animals, and despite the fact that they will “bond” with sheep to some extent, they do need companionship from their own kind. It also was made abundantly clear to us that due to the fertility of alpacas, it is imperative that the sexes always be kept separate, as placing males and females together would mean that the boys would be constantly harassing the girls to breed.

Rosie keeping a watchful eye over a new lamb

After observing Rosie over the last twelve months it became clear that she was longing for some company, as well as needing some help in her role as guardian over our ever increasing flock, so we contacted Camp Verde Alpacas, a reputable breeder located in nearby Harcourt, and began to negotiate about purchasing several more females. Rita and Anthony are incredibly passionate about their alpacas, as evidenced from their regular Facebook posts, and since we started speaking with them we have learned a great deal about how to look after Rosie’s best interests.

It became clear that the time was right for Rosie to have some company

Whilst we were keen for Rosie to have some new companions, the last thing we wanted to do was match her with other animals that might bully or ostracise her, so Rita carefully went through her list of available girls to come up with a number of names of those who would be most suitable, both as companions and as herd guards. After a visit to the farm, we decided to go ahead with a purchase of two non-pregnant females to start with, Queenie and Sunset, with an option to purchase one or two more later on if everything worked out OK. The most fantastic thing about dealing with people like Rita and Anthony is that they always have the welfare of the animals front of mind, so should the new introduction not work out in Rosie’s best interests, they were happy to swap the girls around until we could find the perfect match.

It was also high time that Rosie had some help with her herd guarding duties

In the days leading up to the girls’ arrival, we received a last minute call from Rita to tell us that despite Sunset having previously shown signs that she was not pregnant, they’d just discovered that she actually was. We discussed a number of options, including taking her anyway, or purchasing her but waiting for delivery until after she had given birth and her cria had been weaned, but in the end we decided that as this was mostly about getting some companions for Rosie, we would swap Sunset over for another girl on the list, High Class.

High class (fawn) and Queenie (black)

The Saturday morning of the girls’ arrival it was very foggy, and as Anthony backed the float back into the paddock where we were going to offload them, it was difficult to even spot Rosie and the sheep through the mist to where they stood at the other end, but as the girls disembarked and took their first tentative steps into unfamiliar surroundings, a number of the sheep spotted them, and soon they were being mobbed like a pair of rockstars. Rosie quickly followed, and within a minute or two the three girls were sniffing each other all over, and just a short time later, they were following one another around like old friends.

A rockstar welcome for the two ladies

As the day wore on it was clear that High Class was the designated leader of the pack, while Rosie and Queenie would each take turns at following behind her. They spent much of the morning walking (and running) around the perimeter fences of all the paddocks, as we’d left the internal gates open to each one to allow them to get a proper gauge for their new surroundings. The rockstar treatment continued, not only from our sheep, but also from the flock of dorper sheep next door, and even the neighbour’s two horses came over to the fence to check them out.

High Class, Queenie and Rosie

Each alpaca has a distinctly different personality. High Class is a little more aloof than the others, and tends to lead the group as they wander around. She’s not all that approachable at this stage, although she has been halter trained, so hopefully that will improve as she becomes more comfortable with her new home. She was apparently quite friendly with Pandora, another of the girls that we were interested in back at Campo Verde, so we’re considering purchasing her as well once her cria has been weaned.

High Class

Queenie, on the other hand, is a real softie, and she will let you pat and cuddle her, although we’re trying to minimise the petting until she’s more comfortable with the changes. She does get a bit possessive of High Class if she gets nervous, and a couple of times she’s gone over to where High Class has been sitting and sat right on top of her. Thankfully, with each day that’s past since her arrival, she’s become far less nervous and we’ve been able to hand feed her with her favourite snack – crushed lupins.


Rosie is still Rosie – she’s always been a bit aloof and won’t let herself be petted, but she will come and take her favourite Lucerne hay from your hands if you call her over. She’s really bonded with the other girls, and we’ve been extra glad to see that there haven’t been any overt signs of jealousy or dominance from any of them. Rosie definitely seems a lot happier with life since meeting her new friends; running and exploring a lot more, and joining them in regular rolls in the dust, which is something alpacas are renowned for.

The three girls have bonded superbly together

The most common sight now is to see the three of them together in the paddock somewhere, a little distance away from the sheep, but still close enough to keep a watch over the lambs at play – which is everything that we had hoped for. We’ll keep an eye on things over the next few weeks, and eventually when everyone has settled in nicely, we’ll look at introducing one or two more girls, most likely Pandora and Sunset, as they become available.