Animals that you see on farms in Northeastern Ontario include chickens, pigs, cows… and alpacas?

Just ask Jo-Anne Burton of Dream Acres Alpaca Farm near Shillington, which she owns with her husband, Gary. “We got our first alpacas in June of 2008.”

There’s also an alpaca farm near Hearst.

Jo-Anne Burton. Photo credit: Bob McIntyre, Moose FM

An alpaca is similar to but smaller than a llama.

Jo-Anne Burton says they wanted something different, and fell in love with the alpacas’ eyes.  She and Gary shear the animals once a year.

“They give a beautiful, wonderful fibre,” Joanne says. “ It’s warmer than wool, it’s hypoallergenic, no itch, so the warmest stuff you can ever get.  It’s a nice, nice product.”

The Burtons make shawls, hats, duvets and their best seller: mitts.  They have to buy fibre from other farmers to meet the demand for their products.

“They’re a very hardy animal.  They don’t lose any heat whatsoever. ” -Jo-Anne Burton

She notes that their herd of about 40 animals copes well with our climate.

“They’re a very hardy animal.  They don’t lose any heat whatsoever.  So in the winter, they lay down and they don’t lose any heat, because of their great insulation.”

The Burtons have a barn that the alpacas can take shelter in during extreme cold.