We are the Mark and Sue Steele and together with our son, Gus we run Patou Alpacas from our home, Budleigh House Farm which is on the edge of the Blackdown Hills close to Taunton, Wellington and junction 26 of the M5 in Somerset..
We formed the herd in 2006 with the purchase of three pregnant females and the herd has grown from there. At the time I was a village bobby in rural South Wiltshire and Sue was a community midwife covering more or less the same area.
Getting alpacas was the start of a journey that would lead to running Patou Alpacas as a business after I retired in 2013.
Mark Steele - this is now my full-time job and I love it! I manage the day to day side of the alpaca business. My main jobs are:
Looking after the health of the Patou herd.
As I write the herd is about 70 alpacas strong and all are fit and healthy. It is my main job to ensure they stay fit and healthy. A fit and healthy alpaca is a happy alpaca! This involves day to day husbandry including vaccinations, parasite control, vitamin supplementation, general feeding and anything else that involves keeping the herd healthy. I also speak to our vet regularly about herd health. It also involves a lot of standing about looking at alpacas!Breeding and birthing.
I organise the shearing each year, for not only our herd, but also the many smaller herds that we have helped set up over the past ten years or so. This may sound relatively simple but with the famous British weather, whereby anything is possible in May or June it can be somewhat stressful! Alpacas need to be dry at shearing time!
I also organise the processing of the fleece from our herd. Skirting and sorting and delivering to the processors that we use. We send the best fibre to The Two Rivers Mill in Wimborne where it is processed into yarn. We then send the yarn to The Border Mill in Scotland where it is hand woven into beautiful luxurious garments. The coarser fibre is collected and taken to Penrose products in the midlands where it is used in the manufacture of luxury bedding.
I deal with all enquiries relating to alpaca sales. Foremost in my mind when selling alpacas is that they go to a good home. It is very important that anyone who buys from us has the knowledge to look after their alpacas as we would do. I spend as much or as little time as necessary with new clients to ensure that the alpacas are cared for properly. We are always here for advice and help, it is so important for us to know that new owners have the right amount of support from us.Alpaca Shows and events.
If you would like to talk to us about anything to do with alpacas please give us a call and we will introduce you to some of the most interesting, gentle and productive animals in the world.
We believe that the future of the alpaca and that of the alpaca industry in the UK is very positive. The demand for alpacas and alpaca based products is increasing year on year.
Gus helping at feeding time before he became taller than me.
Sue with Snow Goose at the National Show in 2017
Mark with Hollister at the North Somerset Show 2017
Gus with a very successful Woody at The Bath and West Show in 2012.
Gus with the wonderful Wasimba in 2015.