"Shear" business... It's harvest season at alpaca farm

Posted on May 2, 2012
At Flaggy Meadow Farm in Washington County, April is when the flagship farm commodity is harvested for processing and marketing. In this instance, the product is wool from the 107 alpacas that share the farm with Shawn and Lori Malloy.

The Malloys came to Kentucky several years ago from Maine, intent on establishing a fiber mill. With a lot of hard work and marketing expertise, they’ve made a mark in the “niche farming”business. The line of products they have developed includes “Kentucky Royalty Surino Golf Socks,” which is fast gaining notoriety for its unique comfort.

The processing stage, of course, begins with the shearing of the alpacas, who are willing participants. It is serious business for the Malloys and the handful of helpers who came to their barn on a chilly April morning. The group included two professionals -- Peter Connelly of Colorado and Scotland-born Neville Leverett --  who travel the country shearing alpacas

One alpaca renders about five pounds of fiber which, in turn, can produce 50 pair of socks, said Jeff Gonzalez, who is the marketing director. “We certainly don’t want any waste - -which is why we have the experts doing this,” he said.

After the animal is sheared the wool is sorted into grades for the mill process.

“It’s a pretty intense process,” explained Gonzalez. “This is not a hobby. Most people in alpacas mess around with breeding and showing them. We look at this as a performance fiber.”

The herd at Flaggy Meadow is among some 500 head of alpacas on three farms within 25 miles of Springfield, the Washington County seat.

Flaggy Meadow Farm, which Shawn Malloy has vowed to transform into “an agritourism destination,” is further diversifying with the production of free-range eggs, greenhouse vegetables and farm-raised tiliapia.

 

Check out all the farm has to offer at www.kentuckyroyalty.com and http//flaggymeadowfiberworks.com.