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Four legs good eating as alpaca burgers hit the show

Alpacas are the flavour of the month, as Royal Canberra Show patrons will discover next week when the doe-eyed darlings of hobby farmers are served on meat platters.

Breeders want to commercialise their flocks as meat as well as fibre producers, and Canberra for the first time will be offered alpaca meat in mini burgers, sausages, smoked with avocado spread and on a stick with minted yoghurt.

Alpaca section chief Susan Nielson, who expects about 290 entries this year and as many fleece entries from all over Australia, says the taste depends on preparation.

''I have had it prepared by some people and it was absolutely awful. I wouldn't call it a strong taste,'' she said.

''In the industry there are people who don't like the fact we are going to eat them, but there are people who don't like the fact we eat sheep.'' Alpaca and sheep fleeces will form a feature for Canberra's centenary. This has forced out goats and disrupted agricultural students who exhibit them - and their breed associations are reassessing show activities.

Show chief executive Garry Ashby said the combining of wool and alpaca fibre for the centenary event needed more room, while obtaining special pens for boar goats was proving too difficult.

''Generally we have 200 goats, which requires a significant amount of penning and a day-and-half to construct pens, and we needed to meet safety requirements,'' he said.

An offer was made for breeders to demonstrate their goats, which also would be in the animal nursery.

Mohair Australia spokesman Nick Gorrie said goat numbers had dwindled and alpaca numbers had grown along with the activities of their owners.

He believes Canberra Show missed an opportunity when it did not take up an offer to move the National Angora and Trophy Show and Sale from Goulburn to the territory.

The offer would hold for next year and in the meantime his members would regain their commercial focus.

''We have put a lot of our energy into the nationals at Goulburn,'' he said. ''The beauty of Canberra [show] is it is much more accessible to country people than the Sydney show.''

Mr Gorrie conceded that alpaca numbers had surpassed goats in the region but some members were disappointed because the pavilion was originally for goats.

''I have nothing against alpacas but they'll fall and will fall hard,'' he said.

West Wyalong head agriculture teacher Mandy Statham said her students had been coming to Canberra with goats since 1990, and they went on to the national Angora show at Goulburn, then Sydney's Royal Easter Show. Being left off Canberra's schedule left a big hole.

Students from years 7 to 12 learn how to prepare and choose livestock. Showing their goats helps their self-esteem, confidence, public speaking and community participation. ''There's great camaraderie with the other people in the sheep and cattle areas which are in close proximity,'' she said.

23 comments

  • Cute AND delicious! Looking forward to tomorrow's predictable outrage from all the usual vego letter writers.

    Commenter
    Nigel P
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 8:45AM
    • I believe the word used was awful I did not see the word delicious

      Commenter
      Rocco Siffredi
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 11:51AM
    • I predict animal liberationists will be silent just as they are on the practice of eating mans best friend.
      Humans eat or consume the flesh or fluids of every animal that ever lived and thats the way its always been, even vegeterians and animal liberationists have eaten animal meat or product at some stage of their lives although they would like to forget it or won't admit it.

      Commenter
      dusty
      Location
      mango lover
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 1:13PM
  • I regularly ate Alpaca in Sth America. It was delicious and a more healthy option to beef or lamb.. Not only that but they are less environmentally damaging to the Australian environment than cattle,sheep or goats. Eat and enjoy!

    Commenter
    Weed Man
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 8:55AM
    • YES Nigel....... It doesn't take to much thought to know that we don't really NEED to be slaughtering another species to feed our carnivorous appetite! Get up close and admire one of these beautiful creatures, but leave it off the plate.

      Commenter
      Julia
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 8:57AM
      • Yum eat em up quick

        Commenter
        Donna
        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 11:53AM
    • Are humans really so barbarian? Humans already voraciously consume offensive quantities of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and fish. Now they want to extend to kangaroo, alpacas and more while certain cultures even eat protected species. Next on the line - cannibalism? Indeed most animals are over 90% genetically identical. Where will you meat-eaters stop?

      Commenter
      D R Frenkel
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 9:10AM
      • Me personally? I wouldnt. There is a massive overpopulation of elephants in Mozambique at the moment and apparently the meat is divine. i think it is a responsible way to live on this planet to be as diverse in what you eat as possible. I dont now what being 90% genetically identical to humans has to do with it? A leaf has 50% of the same genetic code as a human but im guessing youre okay with eating those.

        Commenter
        julian
        Location
        manly
        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 10:12AM
      • ummm...kangaroos have been on the menu for several thousand years here in Australia. Alpaca has been on the menu in South America for god knows how long. I remember the 'turning up of the nose' at vegetarianism not that long ago. Times have changed and why not embrace something new? especially if it is more environmentally friendly, sustainable, healthy and delicious.

        Your reference to cannibalism is a bit extreme.

        Commenter
        southsider
        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 10:16AM
      • Julian your comment that, "a responsible way to live on this planet to be as diverse in what you eat as possible..." Firstly how is meat eating responsible? Southsider, I concede that both kangaroo and alpaca have been on the menu of indigenous peoples for millennia, and for me this is a different issue. They have been eating to survive which is ethically justifiable. For westerners to eat 'exotic meats' as a culinary curiosity is ethically wrong.

        Commenter
        D R Frenkel
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 11:26AM

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