MADISON (WKOW) -- When you think of Wisconsin livestock, dairy cows come to mind first, right? Well, there are a lot of other species that make our state unique.
Teyanna Loether, the 68th Alice in Dairyland, joined Wake Up Wisconsin Wednesday to talk about some of them, like alpaca and emu.
Loether says the diversity of our farms is important to Wisconsin agriculture. "Wisconsin agriculture makes an $88.3 billion economic impact on our state, and a large part of that is due to the fact that Wisconsin agriculture is so diverse. We have 69,000 farms dotting the landscape, and nearly 10,000 of those are dairy farms. We have more dairy goats than any other state, and we also have unique feather and fiber species, including emu and alpaca."
Loether says alpaca fibers are a warm and cozy choice for consumers because they're so soft. They're also lanolin-free, which is a nice alternative to those who have sensitive skin and they're fire resistant. Loether adds, "Like wool, alpaca fiber is water-resistant, but it can wick away moisture because of its unique ability to mimic cotton. These attributes are what make alpaca feel lighter than wool, but warmer than cotton in cool and damp climates."
Loether recently visited a farm with emu and says it can be a great source of high protein, low-fat and low-cholesterol red meat. "It's lower in fat and higher in protein and other nutrients when compared to bison, venison, elk and ostrich," Loether says. "The American Heart Association has included emu in its listing of heart-healthy meats!"
An emu can also be used for its oil, eggs, and feathers.
To learn more about Wisconsin's unique feather and fiber livestock, head to this website.