Cllr Glynn Hanna welcomes Alpacas to Cranfield and the Kingdom of Mourne.
Alpacas are a popular animal seen in South America… and in the Kingdom of Mourne.
A local couple have recently started a new business working with Alpacas from Cranfield.
Pamela and Peter Houston said they were completely taken aback by the response to their business when they opened at the end of June when the lockdown ended.
Mournes Councillor Glynn Hanna welcomed the new business to the area and said: “I would like to congratulate Pamela and Peter Houston on their vision in creating a very successful family business, which has brought Alpacas to Cranfield and Mourne.
“People are coming from all over Northern Ireland and further a field to experience and enjoy the Alpacas.
“These are beautiful animals and their interaction with the children is fantastic.
“This business has become a great tourist attraction in the Mournes and we need more attractions like this in our area.
“These Alpacas have such a gentle nature that children and adults with special needs really get a very positive experience from a visit to seeing them.
“On Saturday past I took my grandchildren to visit Cranfield Alpacas and the children really enjoyed their time there. They fed and petted them and it was a really enjoyable morning out with the grandchildren.
“I would encourage the local community to support our local businesses such as this.
“This initiative demonstrates there are business opportunities out there in tourism despite our current problems with Cpvid-19 and I would encourage anyone considering starting a business in tourism to think seriously about it and go for it.
“I wish Peter and Pamela well for the future in their new endeavour.”
New Alpaca Business For Mournes
Pamela Houston, speaking to Down News, said: “So far we have had a thousand visitors to date since we opened at the end of June. People have come from all over Ireland North and South to enjoy these lovely creatures.”
‘Altogether we have 12 alpacas. 11 boys and one girl. We aren’t involved in breeding them at the moment.
“What we offer is a long or a short trek, or a meet and greet close up session. Both children and adults just love these animals… they are very friendly.
“We also sell crafts. And once a year we will have to sell the alpcas fleeces which crafters buy up. Sheep’s wool has crashed in price. A farmer told me recently that he sheared 80 sheep and received £30. An alpaca fleece is worth around £35. But we are really interested in the people coming here to our farm and enjoying the animals.
“Shearers who come from Australia to clip alpacas in the farms around the UK arrived a short time ago to the UK, and promptly left on the next plane because of the coronavirus.
Covid-19 precautions are in place
“We do have Covid-19 precautions in place and if anyone is showing the symptoms, they can cancel and come at a later date.
“It is quite a specialist business shearing an alpaca compared to a sheep.
“The long trek lasts for around 90 minutes. You don’t ride these animals like camels… you hold their bridles and rein and lead them round. It is great fun. Children love it. And there is a short trek too for the smaller children.
“This is just such a fun business to be in. I think people are so glad to get our of their homes with their children into the fresh air.
“We hope to put on a Christmas alpaca event, and basically we run through the whole year. People just go onto our website and book a space and come along. That way there are no big crowds just small groups so they can enjoy the alpacas close up all the more.
“We can also bring our alpacas to weddings to entertain the guests and they are brilliant for photoshoots. When you are in a meet and mingle context with them they are very sociable. And we can come along and support festivals and other events.
“They are real characters these animals. Each one is very different. They are real stress busters and are very therapeutic.
Pamela also explained that the alpacas are related to the camel family… you can ride camels and llamas but not the alpacas.
“Children love to feed the alpacas. They are so gentle and people friendly. They all have their own names and their own personalities.
“On the practical management side, my husband Peter has completed an animal husbandry course so we are very well organised. He is just great at looking after them.
“Our business has certainly added to the local Mourne’s tourism scene. People come to see our alpacas and spill out into the wider Mournes, Carlingford Lough and the Cooley Peninsula.
“It’s such a wonderful place to run a business.”
Pamela added: “But I must warn you, there is one danger with the alpacas though. You will just fall love with them!”