The Northern Ireland Alpaca Group (NIAG) has enjoyed a great day out at their first annual Alpaca Picnic.

Alpacas from herds across Northern Ireland were joined by hundreds of visitors in the stunning surroundings of Stormont Estate last Sunday, 27 August.

Originally from South America, particularly Peru, Chile and Bolivia, alpacas are closely related to the llama. While llamas have been bred to be big and strong, allowing them to carry heavy loads, alpacas are prized for the fine and luxurious fleece.

Alpaca breeders across Northern Ireland produce a range of goods using locally grown alpaca fleece. Some spin the fleece and knit garments, such as jumpers, hats, scarves and gloves. Some use the fleece in the production of felted products. One herd makes a range of luxury bedding products, filled with the fleece.

While they are still very rare here, alpacas have been kept and bred in Northern Ireland for the past couple of decades. It is estimated there are about 500 alpacas living in Northern Ireland today, mostly in small herds of ten or fewer.

The group, which is a regional sub-group of the British Alpaca Society (BAS), provides an opportunity for alpaca breeders, owners and enthusiasts from across Northern Ireland to come together and share their love of all things alpaca.