Keep smiling: Top breeder reveals benefits of keeping alpacas

Hermione, from alpaca breeder Melford Green Alpacas, which is owned by Paul and Jude Rylott

Hermione, from alpaca breeder Melford Green Alpacas, which is owned by Paul and Jude Rylott - Credit: Archant

A top breeder is holding an open day this month showing the benefits of owning alpacas.

Hermione, from alpaca breeder Melford Green Alpacas, with Paul Rylott. She was a winner at the Europ

Hermione, from alpaca breeder Melford Green Alpacas, with Paul Rylott. She was a winner at the Europes largest alpaca show. - Credit: Archant

As well as making “great pets”, Paul and Jude Rylott, of Melford Green Alpacas at Darsham Old Hall, near Yoxford, say the animals have a number of uses - including put a smile on your face.

They farm them on their 60-acre site for their high quality fleece, said to be five times warmer than sheep’s wool, and three times harder wearing. Melford Green produces a range of Suffolk spun yarns and alpacas accessories, including socks, wraps and duvets. More and more farmers are employing the animals as guards to ward foxes away from lambs or chickens, they say.

The couple, who have just returned from Europe’s biggest alpaca show, the British Alpaca Futurity, where 10 of their animals scooped awards, will be sharing their insights into keeping the animals at the ‘Discover Alpaca’ evening on Thursday, April 30, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

“During the evening you will be able to see our prize winning herd at close quarters and learn more about how these charming animals make great pets, companion animals for horses or indeed offer an opportunity to embark on a fascinating new hobby or commercial breeding enterprise,” said Paul.

Jude Rylott showing one of the alpacas at Melford Green Alpacas in competition

Jude Rylott showing one of the alpacas at Melford Green Alpacas in competition - Credit: Archant

The Melford Green alpacas, which number about 100, have featured on BBC’s Countryfile programme and ITV’s Alan Titchmarsh Show.

The business was started in Long Melford in 2004. It now breeds and sells alpacas across the globe.

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The couple previously worked for crop protection firm Bayer Crop Science in Cambridge. Paul, 52, ran the bioscience division until his post was made redundant in 2004, and Jude was previously global head of stewardship for the firm until her redundancy two years ago.

“We moved over here basically because the business had expanded and we needed better buildings to house the animals,” said Paul.

Incan Fortune, one of the alpacas at Melford Green Alpacas at Darsham

Incan Fortune, one of the alpacas at Melford Green Alpacas at Darsham - Credit: Archant

The couple fell in love with the animals after a visit to Peru and decided to build a business around them. Paul’s family farms in Lincolnshire, but he moved to Suffolk 25 years ago, initially working in the seed trade.

“The alpaca offered us a great opportunity. Twelve years ago it was considerably less popular or there were less of them around so it was a great way to get us involved in market development, which is my forte,” said Paul.

“I don’t think there has been a day when I have not smiled since I have had the alpacas. It’s like all farming - it has its ups and downs - but I think I’m healthier than I was as well. Then again, there are days when I miss the cut-and-thrust of it (his previous career). But it’s nice being your own boss.”

Entry is free, but Paul and Jude do ask that you leave dogs at home and bring along some boots or wellies. For more information call Paul on 07901-554069 or email paul@melfordgreen.co.uk.