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Classical Publishing Ltd Š 2014


The only independent magazine reporting on the international alpaca industry. Distributed by subscription worldwide and through country stores across the UK, Alpaca World Magazine reaches the largest readership in its market.

Issue 48 Winter 2014 ISSN 1477–7088 Editor: Rachel Hebditch Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8NB Telephone: 01884 243579 Mobile: 07540 748803 Email: Advertising: Heidi Hardy Telephone 01598 752799 Email: heidi@ Copy deadline for the next issue: 14th March 2014 Design and Production: TRG Design 68 Rivermead Road Exeter EX2 4RL Telephone: 01392 279371 Email: Printed in England by: Advent Colour 19 East Portway Ind. Est., Andover SP10 3LU The material contained in Alpaca World Magazine is compiled by the publishers for information purposes only. Although the material included has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, no guarantees are given as to its accuracy or completeness. Readers are reminded that expert advice should always be sought in individual cases.

A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. HOPEFULLY WE HAVE LOTS OF GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO, DRYING OUT FROM ALL THE RAIN WOULD BE A START AS A DRY ALPACA IS A RARE SIGHTING DOWN IN THESE PARTS. Bio-security is top of the agenda in this magazine in which three alpaca owners talk about the effort they have made to keep their alpaca herds safe from infectious diseases and wildlife, from badgers to big cats. Our local vet wrote in his newsletter 'In their ever increasing effort to avoid the real issues of Bovine TB, DEFRA have introduced yet more rules for TB testing of cattle. Despite the fact that it is not a lack of rules which is causing the TB problem...' Quite, which is why it is sensible for all alpaca owners to minimise the risk to their alpacas by ensuring that their herd has no contact with wildlife. Meanwhile Marshwood Vale Alpacas and WhyNot Alpacas, both of whom have been in the industry for a long time, write about their experiences whilst newbie Jon Smith explains what it is like to fall in love, acquire a wife and be catapulted into the alpaca business.

Inside Alpaca World Magazine Winter 2014 NEWS


Whilst every care has been taken in the compilation of the material contained in this issue the publisher does not accept responsibility for any loss arising out of such changes or inaccuracies nor for any other loss suffered as a result of information contained in this issue. Notice to Advertisers: It is a condition of acceptance of advertisement orders that the publishers, Classical Publishing Ltd, do not guarantee the insertion of a particular advertisement on a specific date, or at all, although every effort will be made to meet the wishes of advertisers; further the company does not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by any error or inaccuracy in the printing or non appearance of any advertisement, or if we decide to edit or delete any objectionable wording, or reject any advertisement. Although every advertisement is carefully checked, occasionally mistakes do occur. We therefore ask advertisers to assist us by checking their advertisements carefully and to advise us by the deadline given should an error occur. We regret that we cannot accept responsibility for more than one incorrect insertion and that no republication or discount will be granted in the case of typographic or minor changes which do not affect the value of the advertisement.



It's Showtime!


BAS National Show


Blankets bring comfort to Peru's snow victims


Gucci Coup!


European Show of Llamas & Alpacas

10 SWAG Autumn Show 10 Yorkshire Alpaca Show

40 52

SPECIAL FEATURES 12 Bio-security 24 Preparing your alpaca for showing 52 Alpacas: the first 18 months

FEATURES 18 Why Not Alpacas 30 Mad about their menagerie 36 A mini-mill in France 40 Border Mill 46 Carpalla Alpacas 56 Marshwood Vale Alpacas 66 Interesting times

REGULAR FEATURES 62 Letter from France 73 Breeders directory

Cover photo by John Smith, Caton Alpacas ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 3


If you have news of events or developments within the alpaca industry which you would like to share with others please send it to: The Editor, Alpaca World Magazine, Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon EX16 8NB, United Kingdom Email:


New event debuts in March 2014 ON THE WEEKEND OF 29th and 30th March 2014, something new is happening in the British alpaca show calendar, Alpaca Showtime. The show will be staged at the Houghton Hall Equestrian centre, and in a region that has not had a major show for a number of years, Cambridgeshire. The BAS approved show is being organised by Houghton Hall Alpacas, Bozedown Alpacas and The Alpaca Stud and will be a colour championship. Alpaca Showtime will be a standalone alpaca show offering the best of facilities for exhibitors, trade stand holders and enthusiasts alike.  This will be the first alpaca show held at the Houghton Equestrian centre with the intent of making this a bi-annual event. Show classes will run in the usual order of dark through light in both Huacaya and Suri, with all championships offering broad ribbons and a high quality trophy as a permanent reminder of the exhibitor’s success. Progeny classes will be offered along with Junior handler in both age groups. Judging all classes for this event

will be Kristin Buhrmann of Canada and all judging will take place in a single ring. Kristin has been involved with alpacas since 1984 when her family became the first alpaca ranching operation in Canada. She has been a certified AOBA judge since 2001, a judge trainer for the past four years and a Senior Judge since 2004. Outside of the Alpaca Industry, her educational background is in biology and psychology. She currently works as a Registered Nurse at a small

Alpaca Showtime will be a standalone alpaca show offering the best of facilities for exhibitors, trade stand holders and enthusiasts alike

rural hospital, where her practice involves everything from Obstetrics to Palliative Care and everything in between. Kristin and her husband Bob Grier, live near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada, on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains about 30 miles north of Glacier National Park, Montana. A limited number of trade stands will be available so if you are interested in booking e-mail to make your reservation, or go to for more information. Halter show entries will open

on 7th January 2014 and close on 3rd March 2014 and can be made through the BAS online entry system .Entry fees are £25 for each halter entry and £30 for the progeny classes. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of the organising farms. Alpaca Showtime is being held at the Houghton Hall Equestrian and Alpaca Centre New Manor Farm Sawtry Way Houghton Cambs PE28 2DY

BRITISH ALPACA SOCIETY NATIONAL SHOW 2014 THE BRITISH ALPACA SOCIETY is proud to announce they are moving to The International Centre, St Quentin’s Gate, Telford, Shropshire for the BAS National Show 2014. The show will take place over the weekend of March 15th and 16th and more than 350 alpacas are expected to enter the halter classes and there will also be a fleece show. The halter classes will be judged in tandem by the international judges Jenny Jackson (Australia) and Nick Harrington-Smith (Britain). There will be a Fibre Zone and associated craft areas, junior handling and children's area with fancy dress,


fun and games. There are lots of shopping opportunities amongst the trade stands and a networking and educational opportunity for landowners and breeders plus a great day out for the whole family. If you own alpacas, are considering becoming an owner or just want to find out more about these enchanting animals, expert

advice will be on offer at a series of seminars on Saturday. The visiting Australian judge, Jenny Jackson, will speak at the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening after a Champagne Reception. A free copy of the BAS Alpaca Year Book worth £7.95 is being given away on entry. Entrance £2 per adult or £5 per family which will be donated to Severn Hospice. Find out more at or For more detailed information or to take a Trade Stand, please email


Then come along to the first alpaca celebration of the year showcasing the best of British alpacas. Halter Classes will be judged in tandem by Jenny Jackson (AUS) and Nick Harrington-Smith (UK) and the Fleece Classes by Mary-Jo Smith (UK) and Rob Bettinson (UK)


The International Centre St Quentin’s Gate Telford Shropshire TF3 4JH

Less than an hour from Birmingham Airport Artwork: ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 5


BLANKETS BRING COMFORT TO PERU'S SNOW VICTIMS THE ALPACA CLASSIC 2013, organised by The Alpaca Stud and Bozedown Alpacas raised some ÂŁ3,500 in a stud service auction to help alpaca farmers in the Puno region of Peru that was hit by severe snowstorms. The storms killed more than

25,000 animals, ten thousand of which were alpacas and llamas, leaving farmers destitute. The money was channelled through Grupo Inca without any administration costs and was used to acquire 238 good quality alpaca blankets that were distributed to the

GUCCI COUP! Fashion students triumph with UK Alpaca yarn UK ALPACA YARNS have been used by students at Central Saint Martins in London to create garments that won first place in the Gucci Project. The project was six weeks long and the group worked directly with the Head of Knitwear and Studio Director of Gucci. The fashion promotion and communication students who were also part of the group did all the photography and film promotion and also won first place for innovation and creativity. Adnan Jalal, knitwear designer said: "It was really great news that we won the project and Gucci hopefully will be developing our designs and promoting the collection. Both the pink coats contain the alpaca yarn. The light candy pink coat has been felted with a woven fabric where the alpaca has provided texture to the coat, and the darker pink coat is all hand tufted and is primarily a mix of alpaca yarn and mohair yarn. Both coats were dyed after the knit fabric was made".


alpaca herders in the Ocuviri district of the Puno with the help of the local municipal government. Grupo Inca's general manager Alonso Burgos writes: Each person received two such blankets which, I am sure, will make a nice and warm difference during

the cold nights of the high Andes. Please allow me to say that it is always especially gratifying to be the porter of some aid to these people and that I am sure they truly appreciate this gesture coming from the UK Alpaca breeders.

Contact Roger Mount

on 01386 853 841 or 07711044106 Email: Web:

Snowshill Alpacas,

Snowshill Hill Barn, Temple Guiting, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 5XX

Snowshill Beethoven

Snowshill Ciscero

sire: Virococha Prophecy of Anzac dam: Merungle Audrey of Anzac

sire: Eringa Park Lionheart of Cambridge dam: Silverstream Escudo of Anzac

Snowshill Nicodemus

Snowshill Oberon (Suri)

sire: Snowshill Samuel dam: Snowshill Amelia

Snowshill Peregrin

sire: Wessex Cosmos dam: Hermione of Willaston

Snowshill Raphael (Suri)

sire: Andean Legacy of I-Spy dam: Snowshill Letitia

sire: Snowshill Raphael dam: Bozedown Dividend

Blackmore Vale Shaston Prince

sire: Coricancha Fernando of Wessex dam: Patience

Snowshill Shadow Dancer

sire: ARU Cambridge Ice Cool Lad dam: Cambridge Chocolate Button

Wellground Imber

sire: Moonstone Ridgway of Bozedown dam: Eve of Atlantic

Snowshill Orlando

sire: Virococha Prophecy of Anzac dam: Snowshill Perdita

Snowshill Ramises

sire: EP Cambridge Navigator of Accoyo dam: Snowshill Alexandra

Snowshill Vivaldi

sire: Blackmore Vale Shaston Prince dam: Snowshill Abbigail

Above is a selection of our Stud Males available for services in 2014. Fees range from ÂŁ350 to ÂŁ650. Significant discounts apply for multiple matings. Progeny can be viewed. We also have a number of alpacas for sale from pet to show quality. Please phone/email for details. ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 7


EUROPEAN SHOW OF LLAMAS & ALPACAS Gillian Evieux reports THE FRENCH ASSOCIATION OF LLAMAS AND ALPACAS (Association Française Lamas et Alpagas) held their annual Show on the first weekend of October this year in a small village called Lagesse near the larger town of Troyes. The show is always called the European Show of Llamas and Alpacas, which has seemed a slightly ‘overblown’ a title in the last few years, when all sorts of health issues prohibited most other countries from travelling across their borders to come to our show. This year, however, no particular health issues and so we had a large influx of European participants; German, Belgian, Italian, Swiss and even Austrian. It was the largest show we have had so far, with 160 animals present. This probably doesn’t seem very many to English readers, but here in Europe, with the long distances to travel and the very much smaller population of camelids spread around the various countries, we were quite thrilled to have so many, and it is an indication that interest in showing is developing gradually. What was very noticeable was the overall improvement In the quality of the animals being shown, when compared to even five years back, and the top placings were spread out very evenly over a large number of breeders. It was noted that though the numbers of suri alpacas are still on the low side, (although there is now more variation in colour, with black, brown, fawn and white classes) there has been an up-surge of suri llamas, with a good third of the participants being suri, and the llama male progeny class going to a suri called WCR Remember the Titan. Due to several incidences in Europe this year, we decided to apply strict health regulations to all competing animals – BVD testing, no off-farm movement in the


three weeks preceding the show (no other shows in that period!) and TB testing for anyone living in a TB-prone area (as stated by the ministry). This was risky, and could have curtailed our entries, but on the contrary, people seemed to appreciate the care that this displayed for our participants. The headlines of the local Sunday paper said “three weeks worth of rain in the last 24 hours” …. but we hardly noticed that, as we were snugly housed in a large and airy covered riding school. The animals were housed in stables next door and of course had to run between the raindrops to get to the ring area, but on the whole most people got into the ring just slightly humid. Page two of the ‘local’ was wholly given over to our show and this helped, I’m sure, to bring in a respectable number of the public on Sunday, despite the continuing rain. Our llama judge was the Canadian llama breeder, Mr. Basil MarshallInman who did a great job in both the halter classes and the agility classes, although he displayed some prejudice during the limbo dance, by lifting the bar to let the ‘pretty young things’ slide under more easily …. But we all had a lot of fun! We had booked Liz Barlow to come and judge the alpacas, but as she had been wounded in a fight with a ladder, she had to cancel. We called on Robin Naesemann, from Germany, to replace her at short notice which he very kindly

accepted to do. This was Robin’s first show since qualifying with the A.O.B.A. (USA) and he did a fine job of it, despite the difficulty of having to give his oral reasoning through an interpreter (a German speaker judging in English and being interpreted into French – quite a feat). Mr Naesemann also judged the twenty six fleeces that were entered in the fleece show on the Saturday afternoon while the agility classes were taking place. This is the first time that we have had this number of fleeces, from a total of seven breeders, so we were pleased about that. The fleeces were then displayed in the public area for the rest of the show. What a shock, at the end of the weekend, to discover that someone had actually stolen two fleeces from their boxes. The thief obviously knew something about fleeces as he took the first prize baby grey and the Best of Show but very kindly left the score cards and the ribbons. We also had a section ‘from fibre to the product’ and we had a large number of entries with all sorts of craftwork being presented; spinning, knitting, crochet, fork-knitting, felting and needle felting, from delicate brooches to a three-piece knitted ensemble. Emily Brown was our judge for this and she surprised us all by giving the Best of Show Products to a skein of hand-spun yarn, explaining that the yarn is the base of all made products (except felting) and that this particular yarn was so beautiful that she wanted to

highlight its importance. We had quite a few trade stands, both fibre-related and otherwise and this added to the ambiance; One lady selling her potterie had even made alpaca-shaped quiche plates. How’s that for entering into the spirit of things! Lagesse is in the Champagne region and so, noblesse oblige, we had a stand with champagne tasting and a champagne bar – which was certainly not displeasing to a good number of breeders who needed to keep up their energies. Mr and Mrs Maitrot, the champagne growers kindly offered specially engraved bottles of champagne to all the champion winners. Best of Show Llama: Buffon de Oro, W. & S. Mair (Kaserhof “de Oro”, Italy) Best of Show Alpaca Huacaya: Spartacus du Fontenelle, Mr. F. Henry (Elevage du Fontenelle, France) Best of Show Alpaca Suri: Happyfarm Waterproof, B. & C. Vaermann (Happyfarm, France) Best of Show Fleece: Rapanui de Challuma, , W. & S. Mair (Kaserhof “de Oro”, Italy) Best of Show Product: Skein of yarn, Ms S. Zahn (France) Next year’s AFLA Show will be in Macon (in the Burgundy region for those who are interested ) on the weekend of the 27 & 28 September.

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SOUTH WEST ALPACA GROUP AUTUMN SHOW THE SOUTH WEST ALPACA GROUP (SWAG) Autumn Show was held at The Hand Equestrian Centre, Clevedon, Somerset on Saturday the 16th of November 2013. It was run as a colour championship with two judges, two show rings and plenty of attractions in and out of the ring. The show was held in November rather than the spring because of the number of events held at that time of year. It was thought that in November the alpacas would be in tip top condition with five or six months of fleece growth. The drawback was that there were

hardly any juniors entered and many females weren’t able to be shown as they either had cria at foot, were newly pregnant or both. The show classes were initially planned for up to 350 alpacas over two days, a late decision was made to have one full day showing on the Saturday as there were only 170 entries. The judges were Val Fullerlove, who judged the females and Liz Barlow, who assessed the males. The alpacas were very well represented across the colour spectrum with large classes in most colours, 12 intermediate brown

males for instance. The Huacaya Supreme Champion was Kilnwood Pendragon’s Excalibur owned by Kilnwood Alpacas and the Suri Supreme Champion was a white adult female called Houghton Hall Bessie owned by Houghton Hall Alpacas. There were Best of British awards for both Huacaya and Suri. The Huacaya winner was Inca Gratitude a black intermediate female owned by Inca Alpaca and the Suri prize went to Popham Suri Cito, a light male owned by Popham Alpacas. There was a junior handler class too, always great to see the next

generation handling alpacas in such a knowledgeable and understanding way. This keenly contested prize was awarded to Gus Steele from Patou Alpacas by judge Val Fullerlove. Special thanks must go to Di Davies for organising the whole thing in such a calm professional manner. Di is a remarkable organiser but is stepping down from organising future SWAG shows. She has served her time admirably and will be sorely missed as we search for someone to take on the next SWAG Show. Any volunteers will be made very welcome and assisted heartily.

Competition attracted a lot of attention from both breeders and public. Yet again the Fancy Dress proved big draw for everyone and was won by Aaron Smith as' The Lion Tamer.' Organised by Julia Smith the Fancy Dress class is now to be included for the first time ever at the National Show 2014. The Champion Huacaya was

awarded to Beck Brow Waradene St Patrick of EPC who then went on to become Supreme Champion of the show. The Champion Suri, won by Newlands Tajo gave Kathryn Wordsworth the trophy for Best YAG Member. The 2014 Show will be held at the same venue on Saturday 11 October and everyone is welcome.

THE YORKSHIRE SHOW Christina Metcalfe, show organiser, writes

THE YORKSHIRE ALPACA SHOW 2013 held at Thirsk Auction Mart, North Yorkshire on Saturday 12 October was a success with 93 entries in the halter classes from 34 breeders several of whom were new exhibitors. The excellent facilities on site meant that all alpacas were shown undercover and the cafe

10 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

provided refreshments for everyone. Our judge, Mary-Jo Smith assessed the alpacas, assisted  by Ring steward Barbara Hetherington. Alpaca products were on sale, spinning demonstrations were held throughout the day and an Alpaca Agility course was set up for the alpacas. The Alpaca Photo

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The British government has set out a strategy to rid England of bovine TB in 25 years and the British Alpaca Society is in talks with DEFRA about introducing a voluntary bovine tuberculosis testing scheme for camelids. This is all fine and dandy and may well help exports but is unlikely to counter the inexorable spread of the disease in cattle and wildlife to the east and north of England any time soon. 25 years is a very long time.


ast year the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and East Sussex joined the South West and Wales in being 12 month testing areas for cattle. Breeders in the South West have heard our fellow alpaca breeders, colleagues from other areas, market against us resulting in incandescent outbursts from the breeders who have spent a great deal of time and money protecting their alpacas from wildlife and putting strict bio-security plans in place. One might ask them what they have done, how clean

12 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

their alpacas really are and perhaps inquire for whom in fact the bell tolls? The development of a risk management plan for infectious diseases should be in the minds of all those wanting protection from diseases such as BVD, Johnes and bTB. It is only common sense to tackle the issues before they arrive and a farm or holding that has put such management methods in place must rank safer by a long way than those who just think they are safe, a dangerous strategy. In this article three alpaca breeders, Popham Alpacas in Cornwall, Classical MileEnd Alpacas in Devon and Alpha Alpacas in Dorset explain how they have minimised the risk from infectious diseases for their herds.


SAFE AND SOUND POPHAM ALPACAS e’ve been breeding alpacas at Popham Alpacas in Cornwall for over ten years and like everyone we are still learning, but when the TB scare hit the headlines back in 2010, we took an immediate decision to invest a considerable amount of money to protect our stock. Our three nearby farms all run cattle and have been TB clear for some time but I felt I’d sleep easier at night knowing I’d taken the necessary steps to eliminate as much wildlife from Popham as possible. We sought some quotes from contractors but soon realised that for the sort of money they were asking we could purchase the equipment, materials and do the job ourselves making sure at the same time that the job was done properly. Purchasing the equipment was the fun bit, a post rammer for the back of the tractor, a “ quick fencer “ to help roll out the badger fencing which was a life saver as these rolls are about 80 kg each. I also looked at a mini-digger to dig the trenches which needed to go down two feet but I decided in the end to get a local contractor to do this bit. So in the summer of 2010 the project began. Not without its pitfalls, I needed the help of a local farmer and his tractor on two occasions to pull me out of my own trench, but I learnt as I went and lost a few pounds around the waist in the process. In certain areas, for example where the garden is adjacent to the paddocks I have used electric fencing as the trenching would have been impossible in these areas. Some gateways are also protected by electric fencing. Spring 2011 saw the job completed. But was it working? So I invested in a night vision camera and placed it at strategic


points around the farm and to my delight we have had no breaches of our security since. It may not look as polished as a professional contractors job but I know it is working and I did it myself. Obviously badger proof fencing doesn’t make you bio-secure and we have taken further steps in eliminating breaches. We do not agist or have on farm matings. Any drive by matings are done outside of the normal animal areas in a restricted area with mobile pens which are re-located around the area. Other normal procedures like disinfection mats etc are in place. When initially you embark on becoming biosecure it at first seems quite daunting but it really is not difficult and you have a sense of satisfaction in knowing you are protecting your valuable stock.

I learnt as I went and lost a few pounds around the waist in the process!

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 13


PICTURES OF BADGER ACTIVITY FROM THE AWM ARCHIVE A badger single latrine (left) and footprints (right)

A badger sett

14 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

DI DAVIES OF ALPHA ALPACAS IN DORSET WRITES: eeping your alpacas safe is an on-going challenge and one of the most frequently asked questions is – what about security? A recent visit from our local crime prevention officer suggested a number of measures we could introduce to protect our property and another tranche of security measures will soon be in place aimed at unwanted visitor who have only two legs. However, such visitors do not create the greatest threat to the Alpha Herd – it is wildlife. We are based in West Dorset and three years ago we had our first visit from one of the ‘big cats’ which are known to roam this area. There have been so many sightings over the years that a book has been written about them. The results of this visit – a perfectly healthy female dead in the field with her hind quarters completely missing. The visits continued and a subsequent most unwelcome visit from a badger convinced us that if we were to keep the herd safe – we had to exclude wildlife from the site. The farm is 15 acres, with the boundaries marked by old traditional mixed hedges. We have a main road on the western boundary, back from the road. Whilst our entire boundary was fenced, it was no barrier to wildlife and in addition to the unwanted visitors already mentioned we had the occasional visits from Roe and Sika deer, a number


Evidence of a badger living in your barn

A badger run



of ‘not so cunning foxes’ fell victim to the alpacas when trying to cross our land and we had more than our fair share of rabbits. All sorts of options were considered, some of which would have been very labour intensive to maintain, other would have offered protection from some but not all or what I by them had deemed to be ‘the enemy’ and the war had begun. Our chosen solution was not cheap - £20,000+, but this sum had to be set in context against the value of our herd. Two years ago we created ‘Fort Alpha’. A new perimeter fence was installed which is a combination of six foot chain link fencing which is dug in – two foot down and two foot out from the base of the fence line with the remaining two foot coming up out of the ground, to prevent badgers from trying to dig their way in. This is then linked to a six foot high anti deer/big cat fence which we set two foot in from the hedges. This allows us to cut the hedges and the gap is maintained by a combination of spraying and patrolling with a set of loppers. (Fig 1) On top of the fence we have three strands of electric fencing to discourage anything from trying to climb or jump the fence. One of the added benefits of the ‘big fence’ has been that the two foot of double fencing at ground level has significantly reduced the number of rabbits we have on the farm – baby rabbits do come through the mesh but if they stay too long they become prisoners and subsequently sport for and victims

of the farm dogs. The entry and the area around the house was identified as our potential weak spot – although wildlife is less likely to approach across the road. This area has been secured by all access gates being tinned and the areas beneath the gates have been dug out and filled with compacted hard core. (Fig 2) Around the working pens we have solid post and rail fencing with stock fence on the inside, securely fixed to a solid base rail and where there is no base rail the bottom of the round fence is protected by three strands of electric wire. (Fig 3)

BE SEEN TO BE CLEAN Turning now to bio security measures – ‘ Be seen to be clean’. Visitors to the farm are all invited to dip their boots and walk across disinfectant mats prior to entry. We have disinfectant mats which are deployed when vehicles cross the inner perimeter and all equipment is parked in an area which is not accessible to the alpacas. Pressure washing and disinfecting are regular pastimes to maintain our bio security. Many will consider what we have done is extreme – but the security and health of the herd is paramount. There are all the sort of things that you can do to protect your herd – look out for the tell-tale signs of unwanted visitors - as a matter of routine lift your feeders off the ground or remove them once your alpacas have been fed. (Fig 4)

Fig 1

Fig 3

Fig 2

Fig 4

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 15


Perimeter fence

Fence skirt

ONE STEP AHEAD CLASSICAL MILEEND ALPACAS Classical MileEnd Alpacas we take our farm and animal biosecurity very seriously, managing the risks from infectious and contagious diseases to secure a very low risk status for our alpacas. Maintaining healthy alpacas requires not only good husbandry but also controls to ensure disease is not brought on to the farm from visitors, machinery or wildlife. Our alpacas have no contact with any other farmed livestock so the major risk is from wildlife. We decided to fence the entire perimeter of the farm, some 60 acres, with a small mesh, badger proof fence with a 300mm ground skirt. The fencing is expensive so we decided to do it ourselves buying a post hammer for the digger, a quick-fencer to go on the tractor and an awful lot of new fence posts. Although we considered electric fencing we came to the view that it was not appropriate with our very large Devon hedges and


Feeding station on an internal fence

Water troughs raised off the ground

Water trough on an internal fence raised off the ground

16 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

the difficulty in keeping the grass away from the electric wires. The ground skirt, in the direction of the perceived threat, was made secure with foot long metal staples but today, nearly four years later, grass has completely covered the skirt and the staples. The tension on the fence and skirt is such that any animal would have to dig a big hole to get underneath and this would be clearly visible. So every day our stockman patrols the fence lines to make sure all is safe. Gates on the perimeter can be a weakness. We laid railway sleepers underneath the gates with either welded mesh or the same fencing attached to the gate and meeting the sleepers.

Fenced gate

disinfection mat to get to the alpaca side and there is no vehicle access to the alpaca side from visitor vehicles and no outside contractors are used on farm. Our stockman has to change his footwear on arrival. Like many other breeders we stopped having females on farm for agistment or matings but still do drive-by matings in pens with concrete floors that can be washed down with disinfectant. We have a number of quarantine paddocks for jointly owned males. Our local veterinary practice have been very proactive in helping us and other farmers get their bio-security right with the help of the 'My Healthy Herd' computer programme. Some of this is not relevant to alpacas but it does flag up any obvious shortcomings in one's management, so a very useful tool.

Boarded gate

The next headache was how to feed all the animals off the ground. We used large guttering screwed on to wood that was then screwed on to the fence posts in the field and all the water troughs were raised off the ground. Farm buildings can be a weakness too so it is vital that hay barns and feed stores are secure with close fitting metal doors and that any gates are secure. We set up the farm so that there is an alpaca side and a general side. Visitors have to cross a Feeding station

Disinfectant mat

Tim Hey of Inca Alpaca has written about his biosecurity programme in an earlier issue of Alpaca World magazine. If any other breeders would like to write about how they are protecting their alpacas, we would be very happy to print their stories. Please get in touch.

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ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 17



Starting a new Alpaca enterprise, battling foot and mouth, producing quality fleece and sharing a home with Octavius. Robin & Caroline Sandys-Clarke on WhyNot Alpacas of Sedbergh, Cumbria.

18 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


n the alpaca pen beside our produce stall at a local Farmers’ Market, we often hang three posters, proclaiming, respectively, ‘Alpacas for Fleece’, ‘Alpacas for Foxes’ and ‘Alpacas for Fun’. Although, even in these enlightened times, ‘F-words’ are still generally frowned upon, it is, nevertheless, fair to say that on these three raisons d’être hangs virtually all the rationale for keeping alpacas. Whilst volumes have been written, by people far more knowledgeable than we, on the technical side of this fast-growing occupation, we make no apology for going down a rather lighter and less specific route in parts of this article. After all – WhyNot? When we moved back to Sedbergh in 1999, we were keen to keep our own livestock on the available acres; but the question was ‘What Sort of Livestock to Keep?’ We took the view that there were enough sheep in the world already; and that, because the land is steep and in one of the wettest parts of the country, and we had, then, no decent accommodation for the winter, cattle were not a practical proposition. It so happened that we had recently visited some friends in the south, who had just returned from a trip to the Andes. Shortly after our arrival, a huge van had pulled up at their door and disgorged six enormous packing cases, which turned out to be full of alpaca garments, which our hosts had ordered, with the intention of selling them at Christmas Markets and Craft

Fairs. Not knowingly having handled alpaca garments before, we were impressed by the softness and evident exceptional warmth they offered. Coincidentally, at about the same time several pieces about camelids appeared in the press, including a very encouraging one in a financial paper. And accordingly, since (a) we perceived them to be hardy creatures, with coats and feet well able to cope with Cumbria’s cold, wet conditions; and (b) we relished the challenge of trying something new, we decided to give the Alpaca Option a go. Our first four pregnant females arrived on 21st May 2000; and our first cria, whom, like her nineteen year old mother we still have, was born on 21st June. A friend, who had brought his young sons to see the new arrivals, was asked by one, on the way home, why people breed alpacas. “Oh”, he replied, without giving it much thought, “for zoos, I suppose”. So our firstborn had to be called ‘Ferzoo’; which is why the first letter of 2013’s names has been ‘S’. We shall face some challenges from 2015 onwards, unless we downsize considerably before then. Crisis loomed in 2001, with Foot and Mouth Disease coming at us from four different directions at once. At the time, our clovenfooted, and hence potentially vulnerable, animals consisted of eight alpacas and ‘Wilbur’, probably one of the oldest and certainly one of the largest pigs seen in Cumbria for many years. One day we were telephoned by a newly-


We are very lucky to have a brilliant team of knitters; and each item carries a label with a picture of the alpaca whose fleece is included in that ball/garment.

qualified Australian vet, who, whilst working in Scotland during her post graduate year out, had been seconded by MAFF to assist during the epidemic. She had now been instructed to take blood samples from our animals. Asked what steps she proposed to take with regard to bio-security, the lady assured us that she carried with her all the disinfectants necessary to ensure that there was no chance of her bringing infection on to the farm. When told that, in view of the seriousness of the situation, we would meet her at the bottom of the drive, and might make her take all her clothes off, she retorted, quick as a flash (can’t do the accent): “Well, I’d better get down the gym then!” We never summoned up the courage to enquire as to whether this was to hone up her right hook or to trim off a surplus inch round her waist. Not unnaturally, we were anxious about the outlook for our new-born alpaca enterprise; but things took a turn for the better, when the candidate selected for the first blood sample was the pig, who broke off his gardening and eyed us up, quizzically, over the rails of his personal estate. Helpfully, we advised our visitor that, because of the extreme leatheriness of Wilbur’s skin, the only site in which she had any chance of lodging her needle was just behind his ear; commenting, incidentally, that if she tried it there would almost certainly be a death in the (“and we don’t mean the pig’s”) family. More blood drained from the girl’s face in the next few seconds than ever looked likely to

make its way into her test tube. Finally, taking pity, we produced a very old piece of toast; and suggested that, if Wilbur was able to eat it without discomfort, the chances were that his mouth, at least, was beyond reproach. This happy outcome having been swiftly achieved (for Wilbur was not a fussy eater), our guest said: “Er, I think he’s alright”, and bolted back to her car, without stopping to sample a single alpaca. Following this dreadful epidemic, restrictions on camelid movements were lifted before those on cattle and sheep; and we were asked by the Secretary of the Westmorland County Show, which for more than two hundred years has happened on the second Thursday in September, whether we would take along some alpacas, to mitigate the disappointment arising from the probable absence of other cloven-footed livestock. We agreed; and the animals we took over the next few years consistently generated so much public interest that showing classes for alpacas were introduced there in 2009. Because by that time of year most alpacas in the country had long since been sheared, this show, which has since become one of the North’s premier alpaca shows, was the first Short Fleece show staged in the UK. Visitors to such events are nowadays becoming increasingly used to and knowledgeable about alpacas. Initially, when we took animals anywhere as an exhibit, the first question asked was “Can you eat them?” closely followed by “Do they spit?” Then, after respective replies of “You can; but not ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 19


Keen gardeners are getting to use short, coarser fleece as a slug deterrent round their hostas and marrows

many people do in this country”; and “Sometimes, but usually at each other”, would come “So why do you keep them then?” Which invited a lecture on the exceptional characteristics of alpaca fleece. Now, without in any way seeking to detract from the importance of fleece quality in the context of improving the standing of our National alpaca herd, we wonder how many private or home knitters buying a ball of yarn are actually interested in its precise micron rating? Of course softness is important, especially if, like Queen Victoria, you want to wear your alpaca garment next to the skin. But for many of us, although we justifiably assert that alpaca yarn is second to none, the measure of softness, in figures, is, to all but the very top breeders, somewhat academic, when weighed against the joy of owning an animal whose colour, stature, personality and general ‘presence’ gives constant delight. Nevertheless, to enable us to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and show that we had faith in alpacas as a genuine production enterprise, it behoved us to dedicate a lot of effort to the fleece side of our business. By the year 2000, spinning at the North Yorkshire village of Saltaire, created by Sir Titus Salt specifically for handling alpaca fibre, had long since ceased; so that when we started out one had little option but to take one’s fleece to a traditional woollen mill. The problem was that such traditional mills were set up to process large quantities of a similar grade of sheep’s wool at a time, and their owners were, not unnaturally, reluctant to break off normal production in order to adjust their machinery for small runs. To make matters worse, one of the most exciting characteristics of alpaca fibre is, of course, that it comes in twenty-odd different shades; and the desire of breeders to keep these separate made for even smaller and, hence, to the millers, more tiresome runs. 20 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

When we got our first animals, actually processing our own fleeces to something useable was not really uppermost in our minds. Indeed, our first attempts at shearing did not leave us with much fleece that was processable; and it was amazing that the alpacas survived the experience, let alone us! Fortunately, by shearing time the following year we had enlisted the services of Ben Wheeler; so that side of the action, at least, was sorted. As mini mills were only just being talked about at this time, our first lot of decent fleeces went down to Norfolk to join a collection destined for a woollen mill. Well over a year (and a lot of telephone calls) later, we eventually received the yarn constituting our first fibre harvest. Next, we joined up with a group of mainly local Cumbrian breeders, to send a consignment of different colours off to Specialist Spinning in Oxfordshire. The difficulty here was that different breeders wanted different products and plys back; and it became very complicated working out to how many balls of yarn in which ply, each was entitled. By this time there were several mini mills up and running; and we had a much clearer idea of what we required as an end product. By now we had quite a few alpacas, in several different colours; and, with the chance of being able to have just a few kilos of any given colour processed, we decided to go down the mini mill route, and so be sure of getting our own yarn back as we wanted it; and of being able to trace it back to the alpacas from which it came. A trip to Farrlacey in Lincolnshire, with a car load of fleece, and a meeting with Dick and Trevor, started us down this route; and our first yarns back confirmed that we had made the right decision. Since then, of course, Les and Elaine have taken over the mill; but the quality of the product has remained excellent.

Recently, with Farrlacey very busy, we have also sent fleece up to the new Border Mill, once again being delighted with the quality achieved. Notwithstanding this, we expect still to send bigger consignments down to Specialist Spinning, where Richard Haggar has been immensely helpful in organising for our spun yarn to be woven and finished as lovely throws and baby blankets. Whilst we sell some products online, many of our garments are, literally, unique; and we prefer to take them to Farmers’ Markets and Craft Fairs, where customers can see them more clearly. Babies’ and children’s cardigans, jerseys and hats have proved very popular, along with children’s and adults’ sleeveless pullovers, scarves, berets, beanies and gloves. We are very lucky to have a brilliant team of knitters; and each item carries a label with a picture of the alpaca whose fleece is included in that ball/garment. Yearling and unusual coloured fleeces are always an attraction at Cockermouth’s annual Woolfest; and the past few years have seen an increase in the sale of raw fleece to felters, who again appreciate a variety of colours. Meantime, keen gardeners are getting to use short, coarser fleece as a child or pet or bird-friendly slug deterrent round their hostas and marrows – if the birds have not pinched it first to line their nests! In spite of the obvious importance of this commercial aspect, however, most people get their biggest buzz out of owning and forming a relationship with these friendly, intelligent, inquisitive creatures, who are such a pleasure to have around. So our over-riding aim is to be able to offer a good commercial animal, attractive to buyers not overbearingly dedicated to showing; and yet producing a soft, dense fleece, good enough to be spun up for their own use or for sale. We recently sent four alpacas to a leading Scottish farmer, who has found them invaluable




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Octo’s Day Out

Octavius and Bonnie

in guarding his enormous flock of free range laying hens against foxes. Shortly after the alpacas arrived, a huge dog fox was reportedly seen, frantically scaling a multi-wire electric fence to get out of a poultry enclosure. That said, many of the marks awarded to these particular newcomers relate to the fact that passers-by, having stopped to have a better look at the alpacas beside the road, read the signs advertising Free Range Eggs For Sale, and call in and buy some. Much of our fun has come from ‘Quirks’. Brandy (20) who, at hands-on times over the years, has decorated, in a choice green, most of the interior of our shed; but who, reminiscent of a certain Downton Abbey Dowager, can still draw herself up and, with a single withering look, stop dead, at twenty paces, any intruder. Aunty Di (19), the self-appointed Head of the Herd, who, on going very lame at the age of fifteen and defying all veterinary or alternative attempts to sort her out, responded to the Boss’s despairing “Oh, for Heaven’s sake, let’s try covering the old thing. I’ve heard it has sometimes worked with horses” by becoming, and remaining, perfectly sound. There is, indeed, it seems, more than one way to skin a cat. Then there was Octavius, who must still rank as our Biggest Star. Weighing in on 12th June 2009 at about the size of a small packet of sugar, he had a heart so weak that no-one expected him to live for 24 hours. Different vets would examine him, when visiting other alpacas; and one could see on each face the worried wondering: “Shall I tell them he won’t make the weekend?” Late one night, shortly before Christmas, Robin had snatched Octo up in the shed, and brought him into the kitchen, saying, gloomily: “This will be dead by morning. Better put him by the Aga”. So we evicted the puppy from its cage 22 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

there and popped Octavius in. He lived in the kitchen for fully three months, curled up with four dogs or generally knockin’ about; but refusing to leave the house at any price. Then, quite suddenly one lovely day in March, he took himself out again to his own family, who accepted, nay, welcomed him back, in a way we were quite sure no other animals would have done, after so long in the other camp. Later in the summer, some friends came for tea, bringing with them a very bouncy and selfopinionated fox terrier. We all went up behind to see the alpacas, amongst whom was Octavius, minding his own business. The fox terrier could not believe its luck, and shot off towards the stilltiny alpaca, who, when the dog was about a yard away, raised his head and looked at it with the utmost contempt, as if to say “And what can I do for you, Matthew?” There may, we suppose, have been a more surprised fox terrier; but we have certainly never seen one. With the onset of the following winter, Octavius steadfastly refused to return to the house, preferring to remain with his own; until, to everyone’s unspeakable grief, one exceptionally cold night in late November, his heart eventually could take no more; and, like the much-loved actor, the late John le Mesurier, he finally ‘conked out’. Perhaps it’s time this article did the same.

Octavius supervises his brew

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 23


PREPARING YOUR ALPACA FOR SHOWING New Year and time to halter train the show team. The first show of the year is the British Alpaca Society National Show on the 15th and 16th of March followed by Alpaca Showtime from the 29th to the 30th March and many more after that. Julie Taylor-Browne, the founder of CamelidSense has a few tips on how to train your alpaca.

24 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


We want them to be calm, quiet, move with grace and presence round the ring and not rear, run, kush, struggle or spit at anyone during the whole experience.


hen we take our alpacas to a show we are probably asking the most we are ever likely to ask from them. They are often hurriedly halter trained, separated from their friends in the herd, loaded on to a trailer for what can be the first time, taken to an unfamiliar location, confined in a pen for up to three days with no opportunity to graze or exercise, taken out of their pen on their own, led into a show ring (sometimes with an unfamiliar and inexperienced handler) where they have their teeth, top knot, neck, tail, fleece and, if they are a male, testicles examined by a judge who has another 250 alpacas still to examine. The show ring (and the path to it) is thronged with small children with helium balloons or candy floss, barking dogs, people trying to stroke them and, to top it all, a tannoy will be issuing forth loud shrieks of feedback noise (oh yes, and the ring will probably be near the show jumping ring, backfiring steam engine display and/or fairground). Throughout this we want them to be calm, quiet, move with grace and presence round the ring and not rear, run, kush, struggle or spit at anyone during the whole experience. It is a testimony to the alpaca as a species that any of them do manage to achieve the above and some actually enjoy the whole show experience. Sadly, not all do and there are many alpacas who would do well in shows but are 'too difficult' to handle in the ring and who stay at home. There are

also many, many owners who would like to show but have little idea how to prepare their alpacas successfully for the show ring. I hope to give you some ideas in this article on how you might go about this and to share with you some of the steps I take when doing 'show prep’. Please note however, that I don’t think that preparing for showing should be something that just happens before a show. For my homebred animals it is something that is an add-on to the work that starts the very first time we work with a cria in its first week or month, and also encompasses how we ask an animal to stand still, how we develop its trust in us when we handle it and work with it when we halter and teach it to lead. We do all of these steps with kindness and respect for the animal and aim never to distress them or for them to lose their trust in us. Handling an animal well is a skill that can be learnt and like any skill, one that improves with practice.

1. HANDLE AND TRAIN YOUR ALPACAS IN A CATCH PEN Working in a small area so that your alpaca is contained and not restrained is one of the ‘keys to the kingdom’. Catch pens are normally square pens made of alpaca/llama hurdles about 6ft x 6ft up to 8ft by 8ft and hold two or three animals in a pen. If you can catch and balance your alpaca and help it to stand still whilst not restraining

it you have already covered a huge amount of preparation for the ring. We teach our alpacas to halter and the leading signal in the catch pen. The catch pen is THE place to prepare your alpaca for teeth, fleece and testicle examinations. If they can’t stand still in a pen and have their fleece examined they really aren’t going to do it in a show ring. I use Ttouches or Tellington Touches, which the animals thoroughly enjoy, the ones we use on either side of the backbone, starting at the withers are called Abalones, a one and a quarter circle in a clockwise direction using the whole of your hand, with your fingers together. From here, you can start to part and lift the fleece. Later, practice this with one person holding the animal’s head, either in a technique we call the bracelet, or with a catch rope, or on a halter. You can move your abalones down towards the hips, do some circles around the tail and even circle the tail, a technique which reduces tension, before moving your circles down to the testicles. If there any judges reading this please be gentle when examining testicles. For animals that haven’t had this sort of preparation examining the testicles in a too hasty or heavy handed fashion can lead to some challenging behaviours later in the show ring. We also use the Ttouches for preparing the face and lips for teeth checking. To practice showing the teeth, move the fingers of your right hand down so that you can use the tips of your fingers just inside the bottom part of the ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 25


nose band to balance the head and then just slide your left hand up from the bracelet position to the lips and ‘scissor’ the lips apart with the index and middle fingers of your left hand. This way you don't have to wrap your arm around the neck, losing the ability to keep your body away from the animal and preserve the ability to take a step in any direction to keep the animal in balance. There are also a lot of animals that react when you put your arm around the neck no matter how carefully you do it. Figure 1. Easy teeth!

Figure 2. Correctly fitting halter with lead rope clipped to side.


Don’t expect your alpaca to be able to do all of this all at once. Build up to it slowly and ideally work with your cria a few times a month to get them used to this and to the idea of standing still with you near to them. If you are working with an adult that is new to you, five minutes two to three times a week is ample for pen work. Build on success rather than practice misbehaviour. If you restrain your alpaca whilst trying to do this work it will simply learn new evasion techniques.

2. HALTER FIT The first, and probably the most crucial, step is to have a well-fitting halter. The nose band should be well back towards the eye, the crown piece (the bit that goes round the back of the head) should be pretty tight (you should be able to get one finger underneath) as this is the part of the halter that holds the nose band in place. The chin piece should be snug but not tight so that the noseband and chin piece should make contact all around the face. Before you put the halter on – open the noseband up fully to its widest extent, put it on, and then fasten it at the crown piece. Then tighten up the chin piece. The noseband should be situated on the bony part of the nose and there should be no possibility of it slipping forward onto the cartilage. If it does this can make the alpaca panic in the ring. Five to ten minutes after you have haltered the animal – check the fit again. The heat generated by the animal, and/or the heat of the sun will cause the halter to expand and it will have loosened and you will probably need to tighten it again at the crown piece. 26 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

I recommend that you clip the lead rope to the side of the halter (on the front part of the forward most ring). This gives you much better control over the animal’s movements with much smaller signals from you. These signals become imperceptible to onlookers because you are able to pre-empt any unwanted behaviour before it happens. On our courses, we give our participants the opportunity to feel the difference between a lead rope clipped at the bottom of the halter and on the side. Both ‘handler’ and ‘animal’ are always surprised at the much larger scale of the signals needed when the lead is clipped on the bottom ring and the amount of pressure experienced by the animal on the back of the head. This makes them much more inclined to pull back to reduce the pressure on the head which is the exact opposite response of the one we want. I teach alpacas to lead on a long line and with a wand. The benefit of the long line is that I can be a good distance in front of them and therefore they are more inclined to move when I ask them. If I am too close they are reluctant to move forward. The combination of the long line and the wand

Figure 3. Teaching leading with a wand

also prevents them from rushing past me. Horse leads are too short for this exercise. Once I have taught the alpaca to lead we shorten up the lead a little and go out for an interesting walk. I always take my alpacas on an interesting and challenging, but not scary, first outing because I want them to listen to my signals and learn to trust me. At my farm I use a field with trees that we weave in and out of, I have also used my stable yard, my lane, my smallholding area and my garden. I never halter them in the field they live in and then lead them straight out into that field. It is too familiar to them and they are too keen to get back to it. If possible I enlist some help and take two or three handlers with two or three alpacas. When the animals are walking reasonably and confidently we practice ‘going away and coming back,’ that is the majority of the group stays in one place whilst one is lead away on a little detour. The single animal has to practice moving away from the group and then walking back to them with self-control. The handler has to practice resisting the temptation to pull back on the lead rope and making sure they stay in front, using their wand to make sure the alpaca moves slowly back to the group. I always do this exercise on the enjoyable walk section of the training when the animals are very relaxed. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how very herdfocussed alpacas are. Some have never been separated from their friends since the day they are born so asking them to start doing this on show day can be too, too much.

4. WORK YOUR ALPACAS THROUGH SOME OBSTACLES INCLUDING A MOCK SHOW RING We set up an obstacle course in a field. Most of it is permanently set up so that I can train new arrivals, alpacas here for retraining and cria. The obstacles include a labyrinth, weaving poles, cavalletti or ground poles, a set up for asking animals to ‘limbo dance’ under different heights of tape and a number of other obstacles. Details of these can be found in a previous article you can see on my website. For show prep I also set up a simple square made out of white plastic horse tape poles and some white horse tape. We take the animals though all the obstacles and then into the show ring, asking them to practice going round the outside, going across it diagonally, lining up beside each other, and then having their handler practice touching fleece, and showing teeth. When they are happy with this, the mock judge approaches and the handler handles whilst the judge judges. This is the hardest part for the animals so make sure you aren’t rushing the final step. Make sure your animals are happy to be handled by you in the ring first. Food can be a great distraction, as it can be used to help animals relax when the ‘judge’ approaches. If you have any experience of clicker training this is also a great way to encourage an alpaca to stand still at crucial moments on command.

Halter SHow

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5. TRAIN YOURSELF! The next point on training your animal to behave in the ring is to train yourself. Don’t tug or drag the animal along. Alpacas are very good at lowering their centre of mass by extending their neck, widening their feet and shifting their weight to the rear in response to steady pressure on the head. If they plant you need to ease off on the lead rope completely, relax, take a deep breath and then give it the signal you have taught them when you ‘ask’ them to move. We teach a gentle ‘ratchet’ signal on our courses. Once they are walking – don’t put steady pressure on the rope, aim to have a slight ‘belly’ in the line, this will encourage them to have selfcarriage and step out nicely. The second you put pressure on the lead, you are throwing them off balance and affecting their gait. Next time you are at show, watch the other handlers and their lead ropes and see this for yourself. When asking your alpaca to stand quietly in the ring – this is another opportunity for you to watch yourself, you will need to hold the lead rope quite close to the halter, but again, watch there is no steady pressure, and there is a small amount of slack in the lead rope. If you are bored or nervous or surreptitiously communicating with your colleagues outside the ring be careful that you don’t: a) jiggle the line annoyingly b) be heavy handed and drag the animals head down, and c) put pressure in the lead, pulling the alpaca into you. If you pull their heads toward you – the law of equal and opposite forces mean that their bottoms will swing out and you will have one of those circling alpacas that we see all too often. It is very amusing for the public to watch alpacas leap into the air when the judge comes to look at the fleece, but it is less amusing for the alpaca, the handler, the ring steward and the judge. Some pointers may help here: a) If you know your animal is likely to do this, you may become heavier handed and put steady pressure on the lead rope or try to hold the animal down. Because both of these encourage the animals to leap up, counter intuitively the handler needs to lighten up at this point. b) You, may get nervous when the judge approaches. Try to breath. Better still, when you exhale, exhale slowly and audibly (to the alpaca). This makes a big difference to both of you. Your level of tension, your tendency to heavy handedness and your body language will all be affected, and will in turn affect your alpaca. As you already know, alpacas are sensitive and in tune with what you are feeling. c). Make a virtual catch pen in the ring. This can be achieved if the handler stands about a foot in front of the alpaca, the judge stands on one side and leans over to check the fleece and the ring steward stands on the opposite side from the judge. The handler can have one hand on the lead rope and one on the alpaca’s neck and is able to rebalance the alpaca should it start to shift its weight just before making an unwanted move. 28 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

Figure 4. The mock judge and ring steward creating a virtual catch pen

SOME TIPS FOR HELPING YOUR ALPACA RELAX AT A SHOW: • Practice loading and unloading your alpacas before the show. Putting straw on the dark rubber ramps can make them seem safer. Give hay in the trailer to eat. • Make sure they have hay to eat in the pen, as chewing relaxes them. • Take their halters off between classes to ensure proper eating, drinking and ruminating. Improper digestion can lead to diarrhoea. • Make sure there are some pellets of droppings in the pen when you first put your animals in their pens. They hate to go on clean straw and will get stressed ‘holding it in.’ If you don’t give them the opportunity to let them go in the pen by putting in a few droppings they invariably either walk very strangely around the ring or even worse go to the toilet in the middle of it. Put droppings in your trailer as well otherwise they will have a very uncomfortable journey. • If you know ttouch, do this in the collecting ring, particularly mouth work. • Smile… and enjoy yourself.

You can see previous articles on aspects of CamelidSense training on my website There are also details of forthcoming training courses and training equipment, books and DVDs.

UsE oUr gENETics To aDD ValUE To yoUr hErD Joint owners of Dovecote Jaquinto of TAS 2011 Futurity Champion Huacaya HerdSire LMFI & TNT PeruvIaN NTherough Sire MFI Peruvian Jeremiah Standing at Stud

DoveCoTe JaquINTo grand Sire Pperuvian vengador Standing at Stud

CMe XerXeS Sire CMe Tulaco Centurion Standing at Stud

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Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8NB Telephone: 01884 243579 Alpaca World Magazine Winter 2009 Email:

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ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 29


Richard & Liz Glover are

Here is their story. 30 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE



t’s a strange world we live in and according to most of the people we know, our place, ‘Wet Wellies in Somerset’ is the strangest, maddest place they have ever been. As you come up the drive you are greeted by Mary, the peahen, sat on the bonnet of the car like a mascot. So many people drive through the village, slam the brakes on and reverse to have a look at her in her full glory. Coming in the drive you have to avoid the ‘Pukka Pie’ girls, a dozen or so free range chickens rescued before the pie man came to collect them from the local egg farm. They will not get out the way because you are in ‘their’ drive and they are having a dust bath. Stepping out of the car, Charlie and Mole, the hand reared call ducks, will run up to you chatting away wanting to know who you are and what you are doing in ‘their’ gaff. Suddenly and sure to catch you off guard there is the almighty E-OR from Kate, the desert donkey, followed by Eclipse the miniature

Mediterranean donkey announcing your arrival for everyone to hear. Now everyone knows you’re here all hell is then let loose as the pigs, Monty, Tilley, Jemima, Lottie and Lola run down the field screaming all the way, the sheep, Pam and Piggy run baaing as they trot down. Bert, the pygmy goat, jumps of his platform, normally twisting his leg as he does followed by his brother Basset and their new mates Harry and Larry. Lastly, dancing as if they are puppets on elastic, along come Rocky and Pepe the alpacas. Pepe is soaking wet as he spends most of the day stood in the water trough splashing around or standing by the tap waiting for the hose pipe to be sprayed on him. Rocky is much more chilled out. He loves nothing more than chilling out with his new best friends Monty and the gang of pigs. When Rocky and Pepe arrived, a rescue from Southampton, they were put out to grass away from the other animals until they settled in and ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 31


we could hand feed them and get them bucket trained. At the same time as the alpaca arrival we had been looking for a boar for Jemima and Tilley, when all of a sudden Monty arrived. He was put into a pen separate from the other animals for a month but next to Rocky and Pepe. Although very wary of each other to start with Pepe very quickly started to show interest in Monty and within a week or so in the mornings you would find Pepe sleeping next to the pen with Monty in, they would be laying next to each other on different sides of the gate. As everyone looked to be getting on so well we opened the gate and left them be together.

32 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

We were amazed, when Monty came out Pepe followed him around rubbing his head up and down Monty’s back which he still does every day. Rocky however has never really shown much interest in Monty although when Tilley gave birth to her 11 piglets he immediately took the role of the caring baby sitter. When Tilley was off feeding he would spend time with the piglets. He was happy to lie down and have them climb all over him; he enjoys nudging them around with his nose to keep them all together. Although nine of the piglets were sold on we have kept two of them for him, Lottie and Lola that he absolutely adores.


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34 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 35



by Gillian Evieux


had to happen sooner or later, of course, but many of us were past believing. Since 2007 there have been several attempts to set up a Mini-Mill in France, each time committees were set up, feasibility studies were done and then the projects stagnated; This time last year, in the Winter 2012/2013 issue, I reported that there was great hope of a Mini-Mill being set up in the Limousine area – this has, however completely stalled as the ‘powers that be’ wanted breeders to sign a paper promising a certain number of kilos of fibre per 36 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

year … not going to happen. In the meantime, a dynamic young couple have entered the fray, and without setting up a committee or asking for any grants, they have gone ahead and bought their Mini-Mill, called a ‘micro-filature’ over here, set it up in their stable and are already producing yarn. Bertrand et Véronique Busin bought two llamas in 2010, decided that they wanted to use their fibre and so Véronique, who is a midwife as well as a mother of two children, learnt to hand-spin, but found it was a lot of work on top

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of her full-time job. They eventually discovered the Mini-Mills and used their holidays to visit several in America, and their plans began to grow. In July 2012 they decided to take the plunge, set about transforming the stable building, doing workshops in various mills to get some experience of spinning and despite being strongly discouraged by some people, they ordered their ‘micro-filature’. Their passion for fibre has led them to acquire their first alpaca to join the llamas and there are murmurings of ‘starting up a stud’. The ensemble of machines was due to arrive in June 2013, then July and they eventually arrived at the beginning of September. Bertrand is a private pilot and is often away from home but says that in between flights he has a lot of time at home and so he and Véronique are running the Mill on their own at the moment. Bertrand says “I’ve always had the desire to create, it is something that’s been niggling at me for a long time. And I think, also that it is something that maybe I can leave to my children one day.” The Busins were at the AFLA Show in October to display what they have done in just a month; the quality of their work is already excellent, and

38 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

they are experimenting with all sorts of yarns and felting products. Their company is called La Filature de la Vallée des Saules, that means the Mill in Willow Valley. Of course, there are people that say that the Mini-Mill is not the answer to the problem of what to do with our alpaca fibre, but I feel strongly that it is ONE of the answers, and that it fills a space for those breeders who don’t have enough animals of each colour to enable them to get it spun commercially, or for those who want yarn

There are people that say that the Mini-Mill is not the answer to the problem of what to do with our alpaca fibre, but I feel strongly that it is ONE of the answers

from certain special animals in the herd, even though they might sell the rest off to people who can deal with the larger quantities. In France, we have been struggling to find any solution to the quandary. There is not enough good quality fibre to enable anyone to do a ‘collect’ from breeders, most spinning mills won’t even consider doing anything under 50 kilos per colour and there has up to now, been no small mills. Some breeders put their fibre into a communal spinning and get back yarn or products, but this means that every one of them has the same product and none of them have their own fibre – and obviously, the quality is variable. Others who have enough animals are able to get their fibre spun in Italy IF they can produce 20 kilos per colour. Evidently, some colours never get there … So, now we are all excited to have our very own French micro-filature, thanks to Veronique and Bertrand Busin, and we say a big thank you to them for their courage and dynamism and we wish them huge success in this new undertaking … and many little alpacas on the side.

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 39


John & Juliet Miller explain how alpacas took over their lives, from three pet boys to a flourishing fibre processing mill in the Scottish Borders.


40 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


Rumples, Amadeus and Lancelot check out their new home


moved to the Borders twelve years ago and live here happily with our ever-expanding household. The head count currently stands at four children (teenagers, actually – yikes!), five dogs, four chickens (there was an unfortunate dog-meets-chicken episode a couple of years ago, but they seemed to have worked out how to co-exist), eight angora goats and 25 alpacas. Grandma and two cats live next door. At one point in the not-too-distant past we both had ordinary jobs, going to work each day and earning salaries, but that all was to change... It started with the garden. Well, actually not a garden at all – more a couple of acres of weeds and stones. But it was enclosed by five metre high Victorian garden walls and trees beyond, creating the most wonderful microclimate (one of John’s favourite words) – so weeds and stones with potential! Going back a bit, John had decided after 15 years as a primary school teacher that it was time for a change, and was setting up a small gardening and landscaping business. We needed some extra garden space for him to use as a plant nursery and equipment store, and quite by chance we happened on the walled garden at Duns Castle. It had been unused for years, and the owners were happy to rent it to us to turn those weeds and stones into something beautiful. We started planning what we could do with the space – fruit trees, currant bushes, strawberry plants, lots of lavender, and bee hives. But we realised pretty early on that planting up the whole 2 ½ acres was going to be too much even for us. This was the crucial moment when something that had been lurking at the back of Juliet’s mind for years suddenly leapt to the fore: alpacas! Why not use half the space for alpacas? Neither

of us could find a good answer to that, so we set off to learn about alpacas, visited breeders, fenced and seeded the paddocks, and finally settled on a group of three young male alpacas from Greenside Alpacas in Cumbria. Amadeus, Lancelot and Rumplestiltskin arrived in Spring 2009.

UNDER THE SPELL And that was it! As readers of Alpaca World probably know very well already, once you’ve fallen under the spell of these beautiful, graceful, gentle, characterful animals, there’s no escape. So another four boys soon arrived (the first three just looked a bit lonely in that big paddock), and then two pregnant females (well, a couple of the boys had stud potential) … and once you’ve seen a new-born alpaca cria, the battle is well and truly lost. That’s how it was for us, anyway. We very quickly had a herd of 30 alpacas (although one boy is currently on stud duty on Shetland – it’s a hard life! – and we even managed to sell a little group of four recently), and masses of fleece sitting in bags in various parts of the house. So what to do with all that lovely fibre? Well, Juliet had always been a keen (although admittedly not always successful) knitter, and learned to use a spinning wheel and simple weaving looms. Hand spinning was great fun, and really quite addictive (although John used to complain about the draught it made, and the wheel also creaked quite loudly, which did tend to drown out the TV of an evening). But it soon became clear that she wasn’t going to make much of an inroad into even the small stash of fleece that our first shearing produced. So we started looking into getting some of our fleece spun commercially. To our surprise, though, and very sadly, given

Planting lavender in the walled garden

Something that had been lurking at the back of Juliet’s mind for years suddenly leapt to the fore: alpacas! ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 41


Alpaca walking (a few years ago when the children were still small and cute!)

All those years John spent rebuilding an ancient VW Beetle and a friend’s MG has enabled him to keep the machines in fine fettle the long tradition of the textile industry in the Scottish Borders, we couldn’t find anywhere in the Borders or elsewhere in Scotland that could process alpaca fleece – the nearest mills were hundreds of miles south of the border and mostly had very long waiting lists. Talking to other alpaca owners in Scotland and the North of England, we realised that others had found the same problem, and so there was a huge amount of beautiful fleece about that just wasn’t being used. Clearly something had to be done! So after much plotting and planning, and more than a few sleepless nights, we took a very deep breath and placed our order for a lot of eye-wateringly expensive machinery from Belfast Mini Mills in Canada. And so The Border Mill came to be.

FULL TIME HOBBY Our original idea was to continue with our ‘proper’ jobs for part of the week (our lovely big house comes with an equally lovely big mortgage,

and it just seemed to be too much of a risk to give up our salaries completely). But from the moment the first advert for the mill appeared, the phone started ringing with increasing frequency. We soon had clients from all over the UK and Europe, and quickly realised that running the mill part time just wasn’t going to work. So decided to take the plunge, give up our other jobs and get stuck into running the mill full time. Last year we’ve also took on two part time employees, Kate and Moira, who both have a background in yarn and textiles: Moira helped to run her mother’s yarn shop, and Kate’s mum is a local hand weaver. We’ve now been in business for two and a half years, and in that short time we’ve seen an awful lot of alpaca fleece come in and go back out again as yarn, rovings; “fluff” (washed and dehaired fibre for stuffing or feltmaking); rug yarn; duvets, pillows, cushions; scarves, throws and blankets. All those years John spent rebuilding an ancient VW Beetle and a friend’s MG has enabled him to

The sign goes up!

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keep the machines in fine fettle; and Juliet weaves or dyes special orders for customers in her spare time. (Talking of spare time, or rather the lack of it, we eventually decided that with only so many hours in the day and days in the week, we would have to give up the walled garden. The alpacas and goats now grace some paddocks on a nearby farm where they have plenty of interesting neighbours to keep them amused, including rare breed sheep, horses, donkeys, highland cows, geese and peacocks. But we do miss the lovely jam we used to make from the fruit beds – alpaca poo is like rocket fuel for strawberries!) Fleece processing, especially on the very small scale we do it, where we are often processing a single fleece from a named alpaca, is a very slow and painstaking business. There are a dozen or more processes to go through, each fed by hand. Keeping up with demand has been our biggest problem (although obviously a good problem to have). So earlier this year we joined forces with

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 43


New spinner with carders in the background

Paul & Debbie Rippon from Barnacre Alpacas, just over the border in Northumberland, to expand the mill. With Paul & Debbie’s help, we’ve invested in additional equipment, giving us a second fleece processing line and doubling our capacity. The final stage of this expansion will be to build our own mill building nearer to our home in Duns (we’re currently renting space 10 miles away in Coldstream). The new building will have an office (saving us from battling with the kids for bandwidth on the internet of an evening); a separate area for washing and dyeing (rather than Juliet doing the latter in stock pots on the kitchen stove); plenty of space for machinery (we currently have to do some rather elaborate dances to squeeze around each other at the mill… although we have to admit that a bit of dieting all round would help there too!); storage space for fleece and yarns (presently stashed in various places around the house and sometimes even the car and alpaca trailer); and a weaving studio and space for craft workshops (so we might even get our sitting room back, currently home to an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche floor loom!). John also says that we’ll be able to keep an eye on the machines in the middle of the night – Juliet hopes he’s joking, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t come to that.

SO WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? ALPACA IS A MAGIC FIBRE: it processes beautifully on its own, but also dramatically improves any other fibre you blend it with.

Alpaca yarn dyed with natural plant extracts

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Immediately on setting up the mill we had lots enquiries about processing sheep fleece, llama, camel, dog, rabbit – you name it. We were surprised about the level of demand for processing sheep fleece in particular – alpaca is of course a luxury yarn, which can sell for a high price which more than covers the cost of processing, whereas most sheep fleece just doesn’t have that intrinsic value. But of course wool from your own pet flock of rare breed sheep is, in a sense, priceless; and being the only small scale mill within a 250 mile radius, we thought we should at least give it a try. However, as our equipment is specifically designed and calibrated for exotic fine fibres, we found sheep fleece frustrating and difficult to process. But we discovered that blending alpaca with sheep fleece (or any other fibre) transforms both how easily it spins and the quality of the yarn. So we decided recently that we would only process sheep and other fibres blended with alpaca – the magic ingredient. RUNNING AN ALPACA PROCESSING MILL IS EXTREMELY HARD WORK. It’s a great way to earn a living, but it’s not going to make us rich any time soon. It takes a long time to process alpaca – it can’t be rushed, and a million and one things can go wrong at any stage. We’re often asked how we learned how to run the mill, but the only real answer is: by rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it: every day brings a new challenge and something interesting to learn. It’s hot, noisy, dusty work, but it’s good to feel properly tired at the end of a (hopefully) productive day. And you need a lot of patience, something which didn’t come naturally to either of us, but has been very good for us to work on. THERE’S MASSES OF WONDERFUL ALPACA FLEECE OUT THERE – we’re constantly amazed by the quality of some of the amazingly soft, shiny, crimpy, fluffy gorgeousness that we’re sent. Although we spend our lives knee-deep in alpaca fibre, we still get excited when a beautiful fleece comes into the mill, and are especially pleased when we can make a yarn that

does it justice. Of course, there’s also some fleece which isn’t objectively such good quality, but is from someone’s much-valued pet, and can still make a lovely yarn. We like the fact that we can process individual fleeces from named animals – we see lots of “return customers” and it’s great to see our old friends back year after year: “Hello Esmerelda – still gorgeous, I see.” “Nice to see you looking a bit tidier this year, Scrumpy” “Now you’ve been rolling again haven’t you. Hughie”. Which leads us onto: THERE ARE LOTS OF ALPACAS OUT THERE WITH TOTALLY BRILLIANT NAMES! And finally:

The mill dogs hard at work as usual

NO MILL IS COMPLETE WITHOUT DOGS! We’re also looking forward to being able to spin some of our own herd’s fleece one of these days – having set up the mill because we couldn’t find anywhere to process our fleece, we’ve now got getting on for five years’ worth still waiting. But we’re hoping it will be good for a few more years yet – although we wouldn’t recommend it, we recently processed some 25 year-old cashgora with no problems. We thought about Tweeting “Running a bit behind in the mill – just finished the 1987 fleece”, but decided not to risk causing consternation amongst our lovely and very patient customers.

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For more information contact Chas Brooke or Rachel Hebditch on 01884 243579 or UK Alpaca Ltd, Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon EX16 8NB

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 45


CARPALLA ALPACAS Nigel and Margaret Retallack started Carpalla Alpacas in 2010 after deciding they could be the ideal livestock venture for their new 20 acre farm near St Austell in Cornwall. Nigel comes from an agricultural background with a deep seated love of animals and Margaret has always enjoyed crochet as a hobby along with her love of animals, so it all seemed to make sense. Nigel takes up the story so far.

46 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


e started as most people do by admiring alpacas at various events but little did we know how much they were about to take over our lives. With a limited budget but bags of enthusiasm we headed off to see Helen Macdonald at Alpaca Power where we put together the start of an alpaca journey. Initially we thought we would like to start with coloured animals and this is what we did along with some lovely whites and light fawns. Our first stud males were a brown and a fawn that came from West Webburn Alpacas and our first two years cria have come predominantly from the fawn. The improvement in the next generation has been marked. However, with improvement comes the desire for even more improvement and the next male purchase was a white Jaquinto son named CME Tantalus. We have his first cria on the ground and all the girls have this year been mated to him. Currently the herd numbers about 50 animals. We didn’t realize when we started just how much noise the males can make when they have their disagreements. Our farm adjoins a housing estate at the bottom and one night at about 11.30 our first two males decided that they really didn’t


like each other and ran down next to the houses for an almighty scrap, the noise was more like pigs being killed and suddenly we had a group of women in their night clothes standing at our field gate trying to understand what horrors were taking place. We had to usher the alpaca boys back away from the houses and separate them for a while. This is one aspect of alpaca ownership that I find distressing but generally they seem to sort out their differences after a while. The other main enterprise on the farm is a flock of 130 sheep which are mainly cross breeds but includes a small flock of pedigree Beltex which are used to produce terminal sires for the production of prime lamb. The Beltex as a breed is the best terminal sire available yielding an extremely well shaped prime lamb. Strangely the Beltex society also uses Grass Roots Systems to run its pedigree register so we have both enterprises under their control. Obviously we can’t keep this number of animals on twenty acres so we have rented another sixteen acres and we take winter keep from local farmers to get the sheep off the holding. This proves to be quite time consuming as each field needs electric fencing to prevent escapees. The Beltex stay put but our crosses tend to prefer the grass in the next field. Last winter proved to be

Nigel with

particularly challenging as the wet summer meant that the ewes were not in as good a condition as they should have been and lambing rates were lower as a consequence. We also suffered a liver fluke outbreak in a group that had been grazing on some wet moorland despite treating them at housing. We have now given up this land as I am convinced that it was the cause of the problem. The other livestock venture on the farm is Margaret’s stud of Teddy guinea pigs. These are bred for exhibition and we show at most of the local guinea pig shows with a reasonable degree of success. If we wanted to we could travel the country to shows as there is an active show community, time is our problem as we need to focus on the alpacas. The Teddy is an unusual breed as its fur grows forwards towards the head rather than towards the rump as in a normal guinea pig, they can be any colour as there is no colour standard with this breed. Density and coat direction are everything here and without this you don’t get anywhere at the shows. There is a breed of GP called the Alpaca but these are a long haired variety and need a load of grooming and prep for the show bench, the owners wrap their coats up while at home to preserve them for the shows. One thing’s for sure though guinea pigs are easier to take to the shows than the alpacas.

Our first two males decided that they really didn’t like each other and ran down next to the houses for an almighty scrap, the noise was more like pigs being killed.

the herd

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 47


It's important it is for us all to remember that the alpaca is a fibre animal and the alpaca industry will live or die depending on how well we all present our fleeces to the processors.

Our first foray into the world of showing alpacas came at the Cornwall Camelid Association show and this really couldn’t have gone any better for us with our first animal in the ring Carpalla W WC Achilles taking a first in the class then going on to win first the colour championship and then overall Huacaya Champion for the day. We also took home two other first prize cards so we were absolutely delighted. We have also attended various country fairs and open days and the alpacas and crochet seem to draw in the crowds. At the St Ewe Country Fair we had a constant flow of people by the stand and our alpacas got their photos taken by nearly everyone who went through. We love doing this as we have become total alpaca anoraks and find talking alpaca one of the most interesting pastimes. Margaret’s crochet is starting to take off now with orders from family and friends and sales at various events. Items she makes include scarves, berets and mitts along with scrunchies to hold back long hair and she constructs various adornments for craft items. The mitts have been particularly successful as the design we are using seems to be very popular. We don’t actually spin our own yarn at present but we send our fibre to UK Alpaca and buy back their quality yarns for our craft projects and to sell on to the public. Margaret very much likes to put colour into her range of garments and this is something that she can easily do by using UK Alpaca yarns. 48 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

This is an arrangement that seems to work very well and having seen the amount of work that Rachel does in preparing the fibre for processing I am full of admiration for what they have achieved with the yarn. On a recent visit it made me realize just how important it is for us all to remember that the alpaca is a fibre animal and the alpaca industry will live or die depending on how well we all present our fleeces to the processors and on a constantly improving National herd. Our breeding policy for the future will be determined by the amount of high quality fibre each animal is producing with a desire to improve both yield and quality with every new generation born. And as for colour, well we now firmly believe that quality is more important than having a particular colour of animal and we will be striving to maximize the value of each year’s clip. I have shorn the herd myself for the last two years following a shearing course run by Classical MileEnd Alpacas. The first animals I sheared along with most of the other first time shearers were given rather interesting hair styles including mods, punks and rockers, but this improved as the day went on. The most difficult areas to master are the heads, tails and inside legs where they join the body. Trying to achieve the correct shape of cap left on the head is still proving to be a major trial. I think even if you don’t intend to shear all your herd yourself shearing tuition is well worth while as you learn the order of shearing and what to do with each component of the fleece.

Alpaca books & digital discs from Classical MileEnd Alpacas Now available from our online shop at or by mail order The Complete Alpaca Book 2nd Edition Eric Hoffman The most complete and comprehensive study of the alpaca. £120 + £8.50 p&p Antenatal Birthing and Cria Care Dr E McMillan and C Jinks A practical guide for the new alpaca owner written by an experienced alpaca owner and their vet. £20 + £1.50 p&p The Alpaca Colour Key; Rickets: The Silent Killer; Handbook of Alpaca Health Elizabeth Paul of Erehwon Alpacas Australia This trio of books are a welcome addition to the library and cover some fascinating and essential areas of animal health and inheritance not easily found elsewhere. Over 90 pages in each, plenty of supportive colour pictures and biology degrees not needed! £22 ea or £60 for all three +£1.50 p&p ea or +£4 p&p for all three Alpaca Field Manual C. Norman Evans, DVM Down to earth, comprehensive, and simple to navigate. Its pictures and recommended drug tables will help breeders keep their alpacas healthy. £105 + £5.85 p&p Neonatal Care for Camelids David E Anderson, Toni A Cotton, Claire E Whitehead Highly recommended book from three well respected veterinarians. Covers male and female reproduction, birthing, neonatal care and weaning. A practical ring bound manual based on clinical experiences with over 50,000 alpacas and llamas. A must for all breeders and veterinarians. £85 + £3.50 p&p

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Calamity’s Bear Elaine Reeman Illustrated by Wendy Holloway Charming children’s book with lovely illustrations. £8 + £2.50 p&p The Art & Science of Alpaca Judging AOBA with Anderson, Gehly, Safley & VandenBosch Five years in the making this book will become the bible for developing breeding strategies and explaining what goes on in the show judging ring. Essential reading for both new and experienced owners. Highly recommended. £72 plus £6 p&p UK or £10 p&p Europe Orgling CD Alpaca World Magazine Fifty minutes of pure testosterone orgling courtesy of Classical Ikon. Ideal for those young males needing encouragement. £7 + £1.50 p&p Introduction to Alpacas DVD Rachel Hebditch of Classical Mile End Alpacas A 14 minute insight into these lovely animals for those thinking of owning alpacas. £10 + £1.75 p&p

Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8NB Telephone 01884 243579 or Fax 01884 243514 Email

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 49


The first animals I sheared along with most of the other first time shearers were given rather interesting hair styles including mods, punks and rockers, but this improved as the day went on.

It was quite painful purchasing all the equipment needed to shear our own alpacas but we now have a flashy set of pink and blue Judo mats and a set of ship pullies to work with. I purchased two sets of calving ropes to use on the legs and these seem to work well as they are mass produced and made of very soft rope so as not to injure the baby calf when pulling under tension. The clippers are the Zipper from Horner Shearing and we also use their combs and cutters and get them sharpened via their postal service which I have to say is very good. We take the blanket area off first and this is removed from the mat before we cut the poorer fibres from the animal and then we avoid any contamination from the legs and belly. Our next item of equipment needed is a proper skirting table as I want Carpalla Alpacas to be known for its exceptionally well prepared fibre. Hopefully this will mean that our financial returns will improve as our fibre clip becomes more reliable and of a higher quality. 50 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

Margaret with the Carpalla Alpacas stand

One thing I have found to be very beneficial is reading everything I can related to alpacas. I have subscribed to several magazines including an American one to further my knowledge. Reading an overseas publication means I am not limited only to what is happening in the U.K. and broadens my knowledge significantly. A friend has given me their back copies of the two major British magazines along with old stud brochures and sale catalogues so I have been able to bring myself up to speed on my animal’s pedigrees and the history of the industry. I am told my nose is always in a book or magazine, usually alpaca related. We would really like to undertake more training and educate ourselves further but have found the cost of the British Alpaca Society courses prohibitive considering where we live in Cornwall and the necessary travelling and accommodation. In our opinion BAS should be providing accessible training to all its members and I don’t believe it is doing this.

We have attended various local training days organized by either the CCA or CME. Of particular note was our vet day held at Popham this year which proved to be a major success with well over 20 people in attendance and everyone going away with a better understanding of the issues discussed. I have recently played an active role in the running of the Cornwall Camelid Association serving on the committee for two years and have just taken over as membership secretary and joint organizer of our annual show which is held at Griggs Country Store in mid Cornwall. This will be on the 5th of May 2014. Next year’s CCA events will include our New Year get together, a fibre immersion day with UK Alpaca, our annual show, plus our regular vet day. More events will be announced as we decide on them. Anyone interested in joining the CCA can email me at and I will send an application form.

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ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 51


Alpacas: the first eighteen months 52 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


On the run up to the first autumn South West Alpaca Group show I was somewhat startled with the news that my wife had agreed on my behalf that I should write an article for Alpaca World. I was much taken aback – what could I possibly have to contribute, I’m a newcomer to the world of alpacas and my knowledge is extremely limited. But that was exactly what was wanted – a newbie’s perspective. By Jon Smith, Caton Alpacas.


suppose a brief introduction is necessary, to set the scene so to speak. I met Tania, Caton Alpacas, based near the foothills of Dartmoor in South Devon, in June 2012 at the pub and thought myself a lucky chap when she agreed to go on a date. I must confess that I had some help from Tania’s sister-in-law who was extremely keen to play match maker. I must have made all the right moves because we married in March 2013. So in the summer of 2012 I fell in love and also became addicted to alpacas. Wow what fantastic animals, they captivated me and I fell hook line and sinker. I can recall many hours spent in August waiting for the alpacas to give birth and being amazed at the whole birthing process. In early spring of 2013 halter training the weanlings started in preparation for the British Alpaca Futurity. Not that there was too much participation on my part, I mostly made hot cups of coffee - the weather was bitter.

I was apprehensive about the Futurity, I didn’t know anyone and wondered how I would fit in but was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and friendly everyone was. Talk about a working holiday this was a working honeymoon, we’d only been married a couple of weeks, and instead of sandy beaches and blue skies I found myself in a huge hall at the National Exhibition Centre filled with loads of super alpacas – alpaca heaven! Still the Futurity was fantastic, I had a great time and didn’t mind a bit at being relegated to topping up water buckets, filling hay nets and getting alpacas ready for the ring. One thing I learnt was that my darling wife can be rather forgetful and needed to be reminded not to miss her class. As small breeders with a very small show team we were extremely pleased to collect rosettes, the time and effort put into halter training, although I did notice that the ones who walked nicely at home were a little naughty in the show ring, appeared to pay off.

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 53


Hotting up at the Devon County Show

THE HEAT IS ON The North Somerset Show was the first of the agricultural shows we attended and boy was it hot. An early divorce was narrowly avoided when tempers flared in the struggle to put up the gazebo for shade for the alpacas. Once again our small show team did us proud and collected several champion rosettes’ but the downside was I caught the sun and had a bright red head for a good week. The next outing was at our local show – Devon County Show – and another chance to catch up with friends made at previous shows and make some new ones. I was beginning to get the hang of showing and really enjoyed chatting to the public and the banter between exhibitors. Honiton Show was one day I’ll remember for the excessive heat. It was so hot that we only ventured as far as the food tent for cooling icecreams. The day was most successful with our intermediate female picking up white champion female. There were more questions about alpacas from the public, some of which had me stumped so I just handed over to Tania. The one about “do

Brett Kaysen (above) and Cheryl Gehly (below) at the Alpaca Classic

54 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


they lay eggs” even I could answer. For me one of the highlights of the “Alpaca Year” was the Alpaca Classic. My understanding of the characteristics of fibre improved by 100% with the awesome seminars’ given by Cheryl Gehly and the talks by the exuberant Brett Kaysen were inspirational. I was surprised that more people had not taken the opportunity to go, it was a fantastic weekend and all that amazing tuition was priceless. I was very intrigued by the breeding process. I came to realise how much thought is given to the breeding decisions’ and that using top studs is most important.

MEN ONLY The first SWAG Show to be held in the Autumn was the last show of the year for us. It was difficult for us to come up with a show team, the timing of the show meant that all the females in the herd were in the early stages of pregnancy and we didn’t want to run the risk of the stress causing problems so we decided to enter a couple of the males’.


Unfortunately on the day before the show the adult male who’d been entered had quite a limp, probably put his foot in a rabbit hole, so our team of two became a pathetic solo effort. Nonetheless our young boy managed to be placed in a hotly contested class. One thing I’ve learnt about showing alpacas’ is that you don’t have to have a large herd to compete successfully in the show ring. I’ve heard several smaller breeders say they don’t stand a chance against the bigger breeders in the show ring but I’ve found that to be untrue. We have a very small herd and have competed quite successfully. Small can also be beautiful and more time can be devoted to breeding choices. So to re-cap my life has changed dramatically in the last eighteen months - I’ve moved from the city to the rural countryside, acquired a wife, a step-son and two step-grandsons. I’ve gained a herd of beautiful alpacas and met some lovely people, some of which have become good friends. Roll on next year, I might even be allowed in the show ring!

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 55



Brenda and Geoff Bugler of Marshwood Vale Alpacas bought their first alpacas in 1998 and thus were amongst the first tranche of pioneering breeders in Britain. View of Pilsdon Hill (highest

point in Dorset) from our hous e.

56 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE


eoff and I are both from farming families and Geoff had previously attended to the stock, feeding calves and so on over the years, but neither of us had ever kept animals ourselves apart from the odd YFC calf or pig in our younger days. So we had quite a steep learning curve when we decided to take on alpacas. In 1997 Geoff took over from his mother 48 acres of good productive farmland previously used for rearing cattle. This is one of the reasons we decided to invest in alpacas, we wanted something more interesting to do with the land other than to just rent it out. At the time Geoff and I were living in a bungalow on the farm beside the agricultural workshop at Bettiscombe where Geoff has, for 25 years, had his own agricultural engineering business, with two employees, selling and repairing tractors and machinery. We first saw alpacas at the Royal Show on our yearly visit to see what was new in the tractors and machinery area and the interest was immediate. We questioned people there and then when we got home we happened to see an article in our local paper by Ian Waldron of Langaton Alpacas so we contacted him for some local knowledge. Of course, being a machineknitter, I had heard how good alpaca yarn was but we had yet to learn about the alpacas themselves. In July 1998 we bought our first alpacas - a brown pregnant female with a brown female cria at foot from Arunvale Alpacas and a darker brown pregnant female and black male cria from Langaton Alpacas. We kept these on some spare land behind the workshop in the beginning while


Alpaca Easy Pen system

we erected the necessary fencing and shelter before moving on to the land at Payne’s Down in November 1998. We moved them back down to Bettiscombe again later on to have them close by when they gave birth. Our first birth was quite worrying, I remember - not the actual birth - as being from farming families we had seen and helped with lambs and calves give birth before, but afterwards when the cria didn’t stand for quite a long while. She just sat down with her head back over her body and her eyes shut we were quite worried but eventually she stood and suckled and gradually over the next few days was able to hold her head up all the time. The pregnancy lasted exactly 11 months, we later worked out, so this may have been attributable to her behaviour, she was a little premature and a little weak in the muscles. In those days we did not know anything about checking for teeth, tube feeding or giving plasma – that wasn’t in the handbook. However she did survive and grew to a lovely amiable alpaca which I could walk anywhere on a head collar and lead. The second female had her second male cria who was very stocky and soon up and about doing everything by the book. Soon after these two mums had given birth we let them into the lawn area with their cria where they could be on show for the Bettiscombe Open Gardens Day which was an annual event back then. At that time we had a big lawn at the front of the bungalow and very few flowers or shrubs so it was nice to have something different in the garden for people to look at. The event was then attracting some 3,000-4,000 people, some of which came especially to look at the alpacas. We learned from our Vet how to do all our own injections and foot trimming and attended any British Alpaca Society meetings and lectures at various places all over the country to learn more. Later on a South West Alpaca Group came into being which made attending meetings much more local.

In April 1999 we decided to buy our own male as there weren’t many other breeders around to buy services from. Certainly not in Dorset as we were the first to have alpacas in Dorset. To make this purchase worthwhile we also decided that we needed a few more females, so, over the next 18 months, we bought two 10 month old females from Sparkford Hall Alpacas who were selling out, two more plus a cria from the Van-Den-Brink shipment just imported for auction, two from Arunvale, one from Clayton Warren and later two from Atlantic Alpacas. These ten females plus the original three, the young black male and the one breeding male, ARU Ambrose, formed the basis of our herd. About this time we realised that although we had pregnant females for sale we did not seem to have the variety of colour in our animals that people were looking for and Brenda happened on an advert by Atlantic Alpacas looking for agents to agiste and sell some of their alpacas on a commission basis. So we contacted Philip and later went to look at his beautiful shipment which had come into the country about six months before. We picked out about a dozen in colours that we didn’t have – two beautiful greys among them I remember - and we set about advertising

Our first birth was quite worrying – not the actual birth – but afterwards when the cria didn’t stand for quite a long while.

and selling them. There was quite a lot of interest at that time, especially as Atlantic Alpacas were better known than we were and of course, we bought a couple for ourselves. In January 2000 I suddenly collapsed in the dentist’s reception area after rushing up a flight of stairs and was taken firstly to Dorchester Hospital where I was diagnosed as having a brain haemorrhage due to one of three aneurisms on my carotid artery bursting in my head. I was then moved to Southampton General Hospital where five operations and three months later I was pronounced fit and well and able to carry on with life exactly as before, provided I took blood pressure tablets as a preventative measure. That spring I was well enough to enter alpacas in the second National Show at Purston Manor which was our first ever show. We halter trained two of our best alpacas at the time, taking note of Joy Whitehead’s (Bozedown) advice to “Walk them somewhere different to where they are usually kept because they will be so interested in things that they see that they will just keep walking without realising they are on a lead”. This we found to be true, especially when we got to the show, they walked on like a couple of four-yearold children, too interested in everything to be naughty! They were very pleased to get into the trailer to be transported home again though. The journey home was extended from four hours to six hours because of a breakdown and the RAC had to be called. It was just about dark by the time of the breakdown and the alpacas were settled down in the trailer and they didn’t move a muscle. They just sat patiently and waited until eventually the problem was sorted and we arrived home. We won a second and a third on that occasion but have done better in shows since, especially with fleeces. At one event we even won a first with the animal in the ring and a first with his previous year’s fleece. ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 57


It was difficult to find enough entries in the fleece classes in the early years which we found hard to understand – it was much easier to enter a fleece than to take animals. It was just a case of sending in the entry form and taking your fleece on the day. Fleece competitions seem much better supported nowadays in spite of the logistics involved due to the extra classes and number of entries. When our second generation of alpacas were old enough to be served in 2001-2002 we had to find suitable stud males for them and so we went to Classical MileEnd Alpacas, then Wessex Alpacas, Arunvale Alpacas, Atlantic Alpacas, Ridgeway and West Dorset Alpacas to name but a few. We eventually found the logistics of moving our females with new-born cria around the country for re-mating was just not practical preferring instead to use some of the best of our own up-and-coming males, off-spring of the topquality services previously purchased. When they were old enough this is what we did for a year or two, making sure from our records that we would have no interbreeding. Then wanting to introduce some fresh bloodlines we later went back to using outside males, leaving a bunch of females on farm for two months, which still wasn’t ideal. Our 48 acres is about a mile from the bungalow so when a dilapidated house and garden adjoining the 48 acres came up for sale we decided to try and buy it. We purchased the house in 2001, sold our bungalow and moved into a mobile home in the garden in 2003. We thought we would be in the mobile home for six to eight months whilst we extended and renovated the house. In actual fact we were in the mobile home for three years due to problems with planning and builders. But due to these problems we finally ended up with a brand new house so it wasn’t all bad. We eventually moved in to our beautiful house on Christmas Eve 2005. With the renovation turning into a total new build and costs spiralling, we decided to share our house and its splendid views - and the alpacas - with other people who might be interested. We opened our Bed and Breakfast business at Easter 2006 and have been busy ever since. We try to avoid B & B in May and early June because of shows and shearing but otherwise it is continuous until late September and then spasmodically throughout October and November. We tried to re-focus our attention more on the alpacas once the house was finished and tried to gain more recognition at shows and events. We did end up with quite a show of rosettes to impress our visitors! About this time we also invested in the Alpaca Manager computer programme which is brilliant for detailed records, mating and birthing records, worksheets and several other useful facilities like transferring alpacas for sale to Alpacaseller. Not that we haven’t always kept good records on paper, including movement records. We did quite a lot of advertising in the early years which was very costly and it was hard to see the results in sales. We preferred to attend shows and some local fetes instead. We had a few 58 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

enquiries from these events but not as many as we had hoped for. So next we thought we would hold some open days over the summer months to try and make some sales but even these were poorly attended despite adverts in local papers. People could drive right down to our new shed halfway down over the fields where we had lots of information displayed and we were on hand all day to answer questions. We had fleeces on show and I even had my knitting machine and spinning wheel set up ready to demonstrate and just to top it all we had two births during the day, right in front of the visitors; one of which we had to help to bring the legs forward and the other was perfectly by the book! We found the Open Days difficult to continue for various reasons, including the weather but maybe we will hold some more in the future. In 2007 we had the first of our own on-farm Auctions. We had the space (after a massive clean-up in the barn) and room for parking so we contacted the local Auctioneer Mr. Jim Rowe who is quite a character hereabouts, and he agreed to help. We advertised this well to attract new buyers and sent to breeders on the BAS members’ list and this first one was fairly well attended and several alpacas were sold at prices we were happy with. We held another auction on farm the following year but there were not enough in attendance and therefore not so many sales. Our son decided to get married in 2005 and then we had a very busy year in 2006 with both our daughters getting married, one in September with a marquee in the field and the other in December just before Christmas. Three children off our hands in quick succession! In early 2008 with the B&B getting busier it was more and more difficult for us to find time together to do vaccinations and foot trimming so Geoff set out to find a way of doing these jobs on his own. He started with a pen made of two short hurdles and some bailer twine which worked better than expected, so having achieved these first injections relatively easily on his own, a more practical prototype was obviously the next step. The prototype was built, tried and tested with our alpacas, adjusted/modified and redesigned to cater for as many different animals/ situations as possible and the Alpaca Easy-Pen was born. Drawings were done for the patent application (which was granted approximately two years later) and a frame was built to enable the demonstration of a working system at the next available show which would be The Alpaca Futurity in 2009. A small stock of Alpaca Easy-Pens were manufactured by Geoff in his workshop, sent for galvanising, carefully finished off and loaded in the trailer just in time for the show. This new venture opened up a whole new can of worms for us! We have shown the (now patented) Easy-Pen system all over the country at various shows and events with such interest that we go home with quite sore throats sometimes after talking to so many people. We have since taken the Alpaca Easy-Pen to shows in France, Belgium and Holland – in between B&B bookings, having grand-children

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Examples of poor shearing

once a week, visiting 94 year-old mother two or three times a week and caring for alpacas at home, of course! We have one part-time casual worker who comes in on Saturday mornings to help us, so if we need to be away early for a show he (or our son or daughters) sees to the alpacas for us and being one of Geoff’s ex-mechanics, he will also help with workshop work, although at the moment Geoff does all the aluminium welding himself. Geoff has now added aluminium and galvanised steel hurdles, and a stand-alone Easy-Pen system to the range. This new EasyPen system can be used with aluminium or galvanised steel hurdles in field, independent of any barn or building. It is also easier to set-up for demonstrating at shows. It used to take us up to two hours to set up and take down a show stand but now it only takes half that time – much less strain on the muscles! 2009 was also the year we had an infestation of mites as did quite a few other breeders, but thanks to some good advice from Chas at Mile End Alpacas and an article in the A0BA magazine by Dr. Ed McCaslin, DVM from America we invested in a micro-scope, sorted out which mite we had and treated accordingly. It wasn’t as quick and easy as it sounds but after some months of hard work and struggle we were eventually mite-free. We manage to keep mite-free by using Diatomaceous Earth powder which the alpacas love to roll in especially just after shearing. We actually had a holiday in 2009 and went to the National American Owners and Breeders Association Show at the International Exposition (I-X) Center in Cleveland Ohio which was amazing. The size of the actual building was astounding to start with, although only onequarter was being used for the biggest alpaca show we have yet attended. There were also several rooms for some very interesting seminars and downstairs all the fleeces were on show – 60 | Winter 2014 | ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE

The males

hundreds of them from all over the US. We also met Dr. Ed McCaslin there and talked to him about his experiences in dealing with mites. He then invited us to his farm where he gave some valued tuition on how to take skin scrapes and how, with a microscope, to identify which mite was causing the problem. Therefore the first job on returning home was to invest in a microscope which we also now use to do our own faecal worm counts, having attended a course with Sue Thomas of Lyme Alpacas. Holidays do not feature much in our lives but this is the second three-week trip we have had in USA and Canada and we hope to have one more sometime. In 2010 we bought a champion male – Warrior of Alpaca Stud - to improve the quality and update the look of our crias giving them better facecoverage and shorter noses etc. He is certainly doing the job and he is such a joy to work with, he just gets on with serving the females with no fuss or frolics, treating them gently but firmly and he certainly knows when one of his girls is pregnant and instantly dismisses them. This year we sheared all 50 of our own alpacas ourselves, doing as many as we could each day in between other work and it was almost a pleasure without the pressure shearers put you under. It took us a little longer but we did the feet properly and the teeth if necessary, and best of all, we did it on our shearing table which saved all that bending down crawling around on the floor. In previous years getting a shearer when we want one, mainly due to weather conditions, and getting the alpacas shorn to how we want them to look has been a desperate struggle. It is understandable, to a point, as the shearers are always up against time and the weather. But see the photos and just look at what we have had to accept other years. Accept, or more usually, finish the job ourselves with the Easy-Pen and scissors/ shears. We usually send most of our fleeces to

UK Alpaca Ltd. - just keeping one or two to use myself or sell at the door. The three high spots of our lives with alpacas so far are:(1) The alpacas themselves – such a joy to keep and work with. (2) Way back at the beginning, 1999 I think, visiting Philip O’Conor’s quarantine building somewhere in Sussex and looking at 3-400 alpacas and 50 llamas all under one roof – just having bought our first four alpacas a few months earlier, we had never seen so many in one place undercover and so close at hand – it was a wonderful sight! (3) When, in early June 2009, we were lucky enough to be able to visit the AOBA Show at the International Exposition (I-X) Center at Cleveland, Ohio as mentioned above. We also went on to Niagara Falls and joined a coach trip from Toronto to Montreal via Ottawa and Quebec before flying home. Investing in four Alpacas in 1998 certainly changed our lives, taking us all over the country! We need to reduce our herd still more because Geoff would like more time to further develop the alpaca equipment side of the business. We have 50 alpacas at present, down from 91 at our highest point, but we need to reduce them to about 12-15; as even now we would not like to be without any alpacas. Finally, we must thank a few other breeders who, over the years, have given us help and advice – Chas and Rachel of Classical Mile End Alpacas, Nick, Terry and John of The Alpaca Stud, Philip O’Conor of Atlantic Alpacas/Alpaca & Llama Care, Ian Waldron of Langaton Alpacas, Joy Whitehead and Mary-Jo Smith of Bozedown Alpacas, Sue Thomas of Lyme Alpacas and the list goes on…..not forgetting our Vets: Robin Carpenter of Kingfisher Vets, Crewkerne (in the early days) and latterly Cat Bazeley of Synergy, Evershot.

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After an initial rainy start the autumn has settled into days of blue skies and brilliant sunshine. The nights are bitterly cold, around minus four or five degrees C, with a heavy morning frost. But as the day warms the total lack of wind makes it feel almost spring-like. Certainly the alpacas are thriving on it despite frosty white backs at dawn, by mid morning many are sprawled in the sun dreaming of an Andean spring perhaps. Andrew Spillane writes.




arlier this year I reported the sad demise of Mme Lion of Sologne Alpacas, a great loss to the French alpaca community. Gaby Lion, her daughter, took over the reins of the enterprise and the management of the estate. Gaby had, from the very beginning, been totally supportive and fully active in the enterprise, a mainstay of support for her mother. In the last couple of years more and more of the load fell on Gaby’s shoulders as well as the care of her seriously ailing mother. A period of great strain and stress which she endured with loyalty and love. In the wake of all this Gaby has also needed to determine where her own future is to be. With this has come the realisation that you cannot live someone else’s dream but must be true to your own. From an early age Gaby has felt the call to enter religious service. She has decided to enter the Soeurs Hospitaliéres du Sacré Couer as a postulat. In consequence the majority of the Sologne herd is to be dispersed. A small nucleus will be retained but the rest will gradually be sold by Gaby who is mindful of the need not to depress the market unduly at this fragile stage. Sad though it is to lose one of the few major herds in France we can console ourselves with the knowledge that through Sologne Alpacas France has gained a significant boost in the quality of its genetic pool. Drive through any small town in France and look around for the most modern and well presented shop. Invariably you will discover it is a pharmacy, usually not just one but several. Our nearest small towns are St Aulaye with around 1500 people, it has two and Montpon with 10,000 people has three, each with a staff of six or seven. Why so many and why so prosperous? They are

full of clients all day collecting their prescriptions by the large plastic carrier bagful. French doctors dole out pills and treatment prescriptions at an alarming rate, all to be dispensed by the local chemists. Even a simple tetanus injection cannot be dispensed by the doctor, first you get a prescription and then visit the chemist for the vaccine and syringe before returning for the treatment. All these medicines are sold at a very high price and consequent profit. No one seems to care as we do not pay directly for these items. They are partially covered by the state and the rest by our compulsory health insurances.

PHARMACY FARCE The situation for pets and livestock is somewhat different. In addition to pharmacies vets can also sell treatments, vaccines and other medicines. For

the vets this is an important part of their revenue and enables them to contain the cost of their visits to some of their remote agricultural clients at reasonable levels. As our vet explained to me the other day , in the time it takes to visit our herd for one consultation, she could have conducted four or five in surgery. Like human medicines these products are ridiculously expensive here, three to five times more expensive than the UK. Now the pharmacists are trying to persuade the government to give them sole rights to dispense these products in France and stop vets from doing so. Given the wealth and number of pharmacies in France they have a strong and powerful lobby. If they succeed they will inevitably push prices higher for greater profit and at the same time vets will be forced to raise their fees and charges if they are to maintain their rural services. In consequence the veterinary union held its first ever strike recently and staged a major march and rally in Paris. It has achieved partial success and the proposal has been dropped by the government for now. One consolation for alpaca breeders in all this is the fact that we can buy wormers and other products online from the UK. As we are not required to register our stock in France we are not obliged to use French supplied drugs. Through buying on line, even after postage costs, it is possible to save 60 – 70% on the cost of exactly the same products. As we reach the end of 2013 it appears as though the terrible recession we have been going through is finally beginning to abate. Almost all European economies are showing signs of improvement, some hesitantly like Spain and Greece, others more strongly as in the UK and Germany. Sadly the significant exception to all this appears to be France. Despite an abundance of rhetoric from the politicians little remedial action has been taken to revitalise a stagnant and ailing economy. As usual the only action they have taken is to, yet again, raise taxes, their panacea for all problems. The consequence of this for alpaca breeders is simple to see, lack of confidence in the economy means lack of spending on nonessentials which in turn translates to lack of alpaca sales in France. For most of us the past few years have been hard with sales levels significantly below expectations and many of us have survived through export sales rather than domestic. We hope that 2014 brings a change for the better with France perhaps benefitting from the improvements in its neighbours economies.

Lack of confidence in the economy means lack of spending on non-essentials which in turn translates to lack of alpaca sales in France ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 63

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g n i t s e r e t In s e m i T Graham Martin describes the dramatic lifestyle change he made leaving his tattoo business in Manchester for France and breeding suris.

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here is a purported Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times, let's just say living in Brittany is very interesting. Moving to France earlier this year with my family was one of the most exciting and scary things I have ever done. Without the help and support of some amazing people I am sure that I would never have managed it this far. No matter how much you look into things and think you have a handle on it there is nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end to see how all those theories really work. So here we are, nearly six months in and it has been a series of mishaps and disasters. Would I change it? Not for a second. A portent of things to come was the phone call on the day I had returned from the UK to bring the last load of our belongings over to France. I unloaded everything settled in for the evening and noticed a missed call from my old shop. I

returned the call to find out that my cousin had been trying to get a hold of me. This was the first time this had ever happened so I knew there was bad news at the end of it. The news couldn’t have been much worse, my Gran had fallen, the subsequent scan revealed a tumour in her brain, and several in her lungs. My Gran was an awesome woman, someone who was always there for me, she would defend me against anyone who spoke against me even on (the very rare) occasions when I was in the wrong, then chastise me in private. All the good parts of my childhood were down to her. I booked a flight back to Scotland and spent a week with her in the hospital, a couple of weeks after that I had to go back and spend some more time with her knowing full well that this would be the last time I would see her alive. Of the two months I had been living in France I had spent almost half of my time back in the UK. It was a


cold harsh reality check, time is the one thing you can't ever get back. I had one more trip to make for the funeral and then I could try to start again with the new life in Brittany.

FOCUS ON THE FUTURE I had to put it behind me and look to the future, so I arranged to have the shelters built, the panels were a little too big to manage by myself so my neighbour arranged a couple of his friends to come out and help put them together on a Sunday. The Bretons try not to work on a Sunday. Having never done anything like this before it was an interesting learning curve, but before too long the shelters were up and the animals had somewhere to get out of the often intense summer rain. Considering my previous career as a tattoo artist it may seem a bit ridiculous but I have a dislike of needles, I don't mind if I am holding them but I’m not so keen on someone else having them and I like to think that my blood is meant to remain in my body. So when the ‘pacas get a little shirty and nervous at injection time I am completely empathetic towards them. This however does not mean I appreciate being kicked or spat at. Bearing in mind that this is all new to me and I have limited experience in handling alpacas, holding and injecting the alpacas can at times be traumatic or hilarious depending on your viewpoint. The first time we had to do the ivermectin was interesting, I was a bit concerned one of the girls had mites and figured it was about time to treat them so we got them all in the shelter and I managed to grab all but one of the girls, Cups and I have a special kind of relationship,

I try to be nice to her and she hates me. She is also the self appointed guard of the herd so when I try to grab her it usually involves me getting kicked. As this was my first time trying to sort out the injections I was a little distracted with all that was going on and did not quite see the kick coming till it hit me in a sensitive area. Of course, my partner, Louise found this rather amusing and couldn’t stifle her laughter, it took all my willpower not to crumble and fall over but I managed to exit the shelter with my dignity in tatters.

THE MATING GAME The matings were done before I had all the paddocks put together, and the greenways and catch pens were not ready either. One thing about living in France is that everything takes time, no matter how much you want things done quickly it simply does not happen like that. So my impatience just has to be put to one side for a bit and I have to get on with things in the French way. The fact that the matings were done prior to being completely ready meant that, well it was a little interesting. I have a lovely black stud, Timmy, and he was eager to meet the ladies. Again my inexperience showed as I put him in the paddock with two of the girls, by the time he caught the girls he was still eager but a bit tired. One of the other boys saw the action and thought he could have some, so he tried his luck on a pile of hay. The hay pile didn't seem to object too much. I was surprised never having heard of such behaviour. Benny even managed to get into the paddock on one occasion and helped himself to a mating or two. Even me trying to drag him away

Considering my previous career as a tattoo artist it may seem a bit ridiculous but I have a dislike of needles, I don't mind if I am holding them but I’m not so keen on someone else having them and I like to think that my blood is meant to remain in my body

ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 67


Having based everything on the UK alpaca industry model I was shocked at the massive differences in France and resolved to start looking for other income streams as alpacas would most definitely not support us.

from Florence was a pointless exercise, as both of them were a little put out. The summer passed and it came time to trim some nails and fringes. Most of the girls were great, Cups was her usual charming self. being pregnant I am sure didn't help much. Shadow was extremely vocal and sprayed us all, normally a sweet animal her pregnancy made her somewhat tetchy. But that was positively friendly compares to Florence who took great exception to having her fringe and nails done, perhaps the fact she had an audience made her show off a bit. We had some people out attending to the pool at the time and they wanted to see the alpacas. I was holding her and just about to put my knee in place to stop her rearing at me and she took off, as she did I slipped and in front of Louise and the helpers I was dragged and bounced around the field, everyone was in hysterics, tears running down their faces. Florence decided to run up and down the paddock with me looking like a rodeo clown with none of the elegance or finesse. By the time I was ready to do the boys nails I had a holding pen set up and everyone went in easy enough had their nails trimmed and their haircuts. All of them apart from Benny who was a little bemused by the situation, and jumped out the pen knocked over Louise and landed on me, I was very fortunate as a slightly sprained wrist was the only injury caused by the brute coming to rest on me. My novice exploits would have earned me a fortune if only I had the foresight to set up a video camera beforehand.

IT AIN'T EASY All through this time we were slowly coming to realize that as much as we love France and this adventure it was definitely not how it was sold to us. It is massively harder to get things sorted, everything takes 4 or 5 times longer to work out. And there are serious cultural differences. The expense of everything whilst on holiday never really sunk but that expense on a daily basis is very draining on the bank account.

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Perhaps the biggest wake up call was the difference in the attitudes to the alpaca industry. My head still can't work out a lot of the politics and factionalism within the French system. The attitudes are somewhat different as well. A prime example of this is having one of the best males in the UK in my herd I thought I would have people banging down my door for matings from him. Well not quite, everywhere I went people were telling me that he wouldn't be appreciated so much in France. I couldn't get a single mating for him so rather than have a very expensive ornament in the field I felt that I had to sell him. As it turns out I ended up swapping him for other animals so I ended up with a few more animals and still had some of his genetics in my herd, I bought his father and a couple of pregnant females that were carrying his cria. So with luck I should still end up with some cracking animals. Having based everything on the UK alpaca industry model I was shocked at the massive differences in France and resolved to start looking for other income streams as alpacas would most definitely not support us. Being the stubborn git that I am I figured I would make it work in some way. It is not all negative at all by any means there are some cracking people over here involved in the world of alpacas, they have welcomed me into their lives and made the move so much easier. Another strange aspect of alpaca life over here is the lack of shows and alpaca related events, there are just two shows each year, one at Easter and one in October so there seems not to be the same enthusiasm for showing but I find that difficult to believe and I am certain that I shall be proven wrong in time. So once again my hard headedness kicks in, this time with the aim to try and get people together and put a show on in the north of France. It may take a while to arrange but hopefully it won't be too long. Back on the farm and spending a bit more time in the fields was paying off, the animals were getting more relaxed with me so much

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ALPACA WORLD MAGAZINE | Winter 2014 | 69


Rural France is still my own little piece of heaven but just a little more “interesting” than I had planned for. so that Rosie would rub her nose against mine then stick her head in the food bucket. Amber, Flo, Ermentrude and Nutmeg would all happily eat from my hand, even the boys were getting a little friendlier. However I still feel that I need to spend more time working in the fields, but I guess that will happen once the water is piped in, the electricity lines laid and the countless other jobs are complete, I will just be able to sit with my guitar and play to a captive audience in the summer sun.

FLYING SCOTSMAN Then it all kind of went pear shaped. The chasse season started, I had informed the president of the local chasse that my land was off limits and all seemed good until one Saturday I heard lots of barking and horns, I went outside to find some dogs perilously close to my land ripping a fox apart. I noticed a dog had broken away from the main pack and dug its way into the paddocks, got into

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the pregnant girls paddock and was chasing the alpacas around. I shouted at the huntsmen to call their dog and they surrounded me. After raised voices and a lot of abuse one of them hit me over the back of my head and his buddy jumped on me. So with two of them sitting on me I lost my temper, I am only a little lad, not as fit as I used to be when I was a Thai boxer or as young as I was when I was fighting neds most weekends in Scotland because I had a mohawk. However I threw them both delivered a fairly acrobatic flying kick and then head-butted the lad who hit me from behind leaving him on the ground cold. A couple of the other huntsmen had picked up sticks so I helped myself to one as well. I don't think these guys had seen an angry Scotsman in some time and so threw their sticks down and apologised. The president of the chasse assured me he would come to see me later in the week. He did not show up but the mayor did and was astounded to hear the value of the animals and

how much the loss of six alpacas would actually be. He told me he would sort it out and get the insurance details from the chasse. Six weeks later I am still waiting. This experience is not an isolated one. After some research it seems that the chasse has lots of rules on paper and very little enforcement. Hunters discharging arms on the road. Carrying loaded guns on public highways and countless other issues all with impunity. After trying to spit the girls off again 5 of them sat and one tried to get to the boy without sitting immediately, I phoned a couple of people for advice and my fears were confirmed, that all the girls had lost the babies. Gutted doesn't even start to describe it. To make it worse when I phoned the chasse president to get his insurance details he denied it all happened. It seems my dream of a stress free life for my family is going to be a dream for a little while longer. Rural France is still my own little piece of heaven but just a little more “interesting” than I had planned for.

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Alpaca World Magazine’s



Alpacas de la Grange Mynas Gillian Howard-Evieux, La Grange Mynas, La Glacière, Saint Chamond, France, 42400. Tel: +33 (0) 4 77 22 85 69.  Email: Web: In the heart of France (30 mins Lyon). Prize-winning alpacas for sale. On-farm and fly-by matings possible with top-class AlpacaStud males – all colours. Initiation and full after-sales support. English/French spoken. B&Bs, holiday flats available for your visit.

Whistling Duck Alpacas Leigh Woods, Whistling Trees, Shardlow Road, Aston-on-Trent, DE72 2AN. Tel: 07812 103518. Email: Web: Sensational award winning Suri Alpacas. We offer everything an owner needs to keep and care for alpacas with our practical lifetime support. If you are seeking adorable pets, livestock guardians or starter herds for breeding please contact us.

SPAIN Alpacaspain Jane Powell, La Dehesa, Gaucin 29480, Malaga, Spain. Tel: 00 34 951 168 007. Email: Web: In the south of Spain near the historic town of Ronda good quality alpacas for sale at sensible prices. Huacaya & suri - most colours. Good quality stud males. Visitors welcome. English & Spanish spoken.

UNITED KINGDOM CORNWALL Home Manor Farm Alpacas Anne & Mike Higgins, Home Manor Farm, Trevellas, St Agnes, Cornwall, TR5 0XU. Tel/Fax: 01872 571310. Email: Web: Select Peruvian and Chilean breeding herd. Stud services available. Stock for sale with after sales support and advice. Enquiries and visitors always welcome. Come and see our wonderful animals.

DEVON Classical MileEnd Alpacas Rachel Hebditch & Chas Brooke, Vulscombe Farm, Pennymoor, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8NB. Tel: 01884 243579. Mob: 07970 415638. Email: Website: Professional stud farm with 15 years alpaca experience. Show winning herd sires with pedigrees containing Australian, British and American genetics available for stud work. Wide selection of quality alpacas for sale as pets or as breeding stock. We pride ourselves on excellent customer support and training. Visitors welcome by appointment. Hayne Alpacas Paul and Teresa Cullen, Hayne Barton, Burrington, Umberleigh, Devon, EX37 9JW. Tel: 01769 520384. Email: Web: Established breeder offering a wide selection of excellent Huacaya and Suri alpacas for sale. On-farm or mobile mating service with a comprehensive range of support services including husbandry assistance and advice. DORSET Alpha Alpacas Di Davies, Woodstock, Mapperton Lane, Melplash, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3UF. Tel: 01308 488661 or 07739 382483. Email: Web: A small elite herd with an excellent selection of proven Australian and Peruvian genetics and a great Show record. Sales, stud services and friendly after sales service provided. Visitors welcome.

Marshwood Vale Alpacas Geoff & Brenda Bugler, Payne’s Down Cottage, Marshwood, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 5QG. Tel: 01297 678181. Email: Web: ALPACA HERD FOR SALE, individually, in groups or as a whole. Due to increased demand for our Alpaca Easy-pens and Handling Equipment, we need to sell or reduce the herd. GLOUCESTERSHIRE Kensmyth Alpacas Helen Kendall Smith, Kensmyth Stud, Clay Meadow, Cirencester Road, Cirencester, Glocs. GL7 6HU. Tel: 01285 862020 / 07799 700587. Email: Web: Family farm, central Cotswolds. A warm welcome, friendly advice. Free husbandry courses to clients new and existing. Elite bloodlines, fantastic fleeces, range of colours. Alpaca purchased here can be agisted. Pure Alpacas Jay Holland, Torsend House, Main Road, Tirley, Glocs. GL19 4EU. Tel: 01452 780327 / 07789 257222. Email: Web: A family-run herd of both huacaya and suri with a range for sale from pets and poultry guards to elite breeding stock, all backed by professional, unrivalled support and advice. Our herd sires, from renowned bloodlines, are all proven and available for outside services. We run a variety of courses which cater for all levels of experience. Snowshill Alpacas Roger Mount, Snowshill Hill Barn, Temple Guiting, Cheltenham, GL54 5XX. Tel: 01386 853841 / 07711 044106. Fax: 01386 854791. Email: Web: Breeders of prize winning Huacaya and Suri alpacas in Gloucestershire. We usually have alpacas for sale, from pet to show quality. Stud services available from a wide selection of proven sires. After sales support and advice. We also have fabrics for sale, all made from our own alpacas and spun, woven and finished in the UK.

HAMPSHIRE Watership Alpacas Keith Taylor, Cole Henley Farm, Cole Henley, Whitchurch, Hants, RG28 7QD Tel: 01256 892154 or 07889 864269 Email: Web: Watership Alpacas invites you to visit and discover alpacas. We have all colours of BAS registered huacaya breeding females, young and pet alpacas for sale, and stud services. Ladies pure alpaca winter coats and jackets made to order locally. HERTFORDSHIRE Herts Alpacas Nigel and Katie Beckwith, Fairview Farm, Wyddial Road, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, SG9 9BS. Tel: 01763 271301. Email: Web: 2009 award winning British Alpaca Futurity breeder. Over 80 quality alpacas for sale in all colours from world famous bloodlines. All our pregnant females are mated to the finest recognised and proven championship winning males. Stud services available, friendly halter trained pets and unbeatable after sales care. NORFOLK AzSu Alpacas Nikki Lenk, The Low Farm, Letton, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 7TB. Tel: 01362 820097. Mob: 07798 522178 Fax: 01362 821333 Email: Web: Norfolk’s largest breeder offers potential and existing owners a friendly and complete service. High quality studs; breeding females and wethers for sale; practical training; caring agistment; fleece conversion; sound advice on all aspects of these magical animals.

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Book your space in the Alpaca World Breeders Directory now by telephoning Heidi Hardy on 01598 752799. An entry is priced at just ÂŁ35 to cover FOUR issues

Burnt Fen Alpacas Ann Nickerson, Garden Cottage, Burnt Fen, Horning, Norfolk, NR12 8LA. Tel: 01692 630553. Email: Web: We have been breeding alpacas for 12 years and have a fantastic friendly herd bred from excellent pedigree stock. Quality breeding females and gorgeous wethers are available, with genuine after sales support. NORTH YORKSHIRE Fowberry Alpacas Graham and Jenny MacHarg, Crambe Grange, Barton Le Willows, York YO60 7PQ. Tel 01653 619520. Email: Web: Supreme Championship winning herd, including the overall Championship winning Huacaya Sire of the biggest show in Europe (2012). We offer super-fine genetics; correct conformation and happy healthy alpacas; knowledgeable advice and after-sales assistance; regular introductory and advanced courses; on-line shop and as importantly, our support to achieve your alpaca goals.

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Tai Wind Alpaca Stud Lynn Pepper, Staffords-Mead Stables, Lower Rudge, Frome, Somerset, BA11 2QE. Tel: 07790 674334. Email: Web: Show quality black alpacas. Fast forward your genetics with our stud males. We have a selection of pregnant females and young stock for sale from our show herd. Import, export.

The Alpaca Stud Nick Harrington Smith and John Potts, Bowford Farm, Goose Green, Thakeham, West Sussex, RH20 2LP. Tel. 01903 891425, 07770 586014 or 07979 651742. Fax: 01903 891425. Web: 600 huacayas and suris in all colours. 25 top stud males. Starter Packages. Shares in stud males. Free support. Courses. New Snowmass males.

Ashton Lane Alpacas Peter & Carol Watt, 2 Mudmead Lane, Steeple Ashton, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 6FY Tel: 01380 870603. Email: Web: Ashton Lane Alpacas specialise in coloured Suris and Huacayas. We offer Suri stud services, breeding females (both Suri & Huacaya) and some pet boys. All with free practical help and advice. Starter packages always available.



Toft Alpacas Rob & Shirley Bettinson, Toft Manor, Toft Lane, Dunchurch, Warwickshire, CV22 6NR. Tel: 01788 810626. Email: Web: Alpaca Stud Farm, est 1997. Pedigree stock for sale in all colours. Superior stud services. Stud males for sale or lease. Pets for sale. Introductory and advanced husbandry workshops. Fleece and fibre workshops. 24/7 advice and support. Holiday cottage on farm. Luxury alpaca products online and on-farm shop.

Beacon Alpacas Jacki Barlow, Suncliffe Beacon Farm, Husthwaite, Yorks YO61 4PD. Tel: 01347 868879 or 07716 917315. Email: Web: Beacon Alpacas has now bought the Livanti Alpaca herd including their prizewinning sires and breeding females. Now available in North Yorkshire excellent Huacaya alpacas for sale and stud services.

West Dorset Alpacas Mrs Carol Eyre, Sadborow House, Thorncombe, Chard, Somerset TA20 4PW. Tel: 01297 678407. Fax: 01297 678429 Email: From our prize winning herd of long standing we have alpacas to suit your every requirement, be it show stock, predator protection or pets. All colours, ages and prices available. STAFFORDSHIRE Trent Bridge Alpacas Debbie and Steve Clayton, Trent Bridge Farm, Bond End, Yoxall, DE13 8NJ. Tel. 01543 474920 or 07967 667551. Fax: 01543 473625. Web: We run a herd of 60 alpacas all solid colours. We have had lots of show success. Herd packages, pregnant females, potential studs, pet males, raw fleece all for sale.




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Here at Houghton Hall Alpacas in Cambridgeshire, a friendly welcome awaits newcomers and established breeders who wish to visit our Farm to view and have a friendly chat about Alpacas. Established in 2002, Houghton Hall Alpacas is a premium independent farm set in beautiful orchards with over 700 Alpacas roaming through our many paddocks. We take great pride in our herd and are always striving to produce excellent quality cria. We have gained recognition through selective breeding with our prize winning stock. We travel far and wide visiting the best breeders in Australia, New Zealand and of course the UK to ensure we source the best alpacas.

Just look at our Stud Males One single purchase from Houghton Hall Alpacas gives you access to all of our Stud Males. Visit our website for more information.






We welcome anyone interested in starting up a small herd or looking to bring quality genetics into their existing herd to contact us. We offer for sale: 4 Pet Males 4 Superior Huacaya and Suri alpacas available in a variety of colours, sex and ages 4 Top quality pregnant females some with adorable cria at foot 4 First class young males – stud quality 4 Recipient girls, carrying elite embryos at very competitive prices. We are confident you will be delighted with the results, maybe a future champion in the making.

We offer full support with every aspect of alpaca ownership. Whatever your budget we feel sure to have an AlpackageŠ to suit you. If you are new to the alpaca business or looking to enhance your herd with outstanding genetics, contact Mick or Liz today! Mick and Liz look forward to welcoming you to their farm. Please phone in advance to arrange a visit. Office: 01480 461510 Home: 01480 492959 Liz: 07791 887986 Mick: 07860 430280 Houghton Hall Alpacas, Houghton Hall, St Ives Road, Houghton, Cambridgeshire PE28 2BL Email:

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Take a look at the other sides of Mick George: &

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