ALPACAS AUSTRALIA The official publication of the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd
In this issue: 타 Agritourism 타 The other fleece market 타 Hypothermia
1 Issue 69 | Spring 2013
Publisher Alpacas Australia is published by the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd. ABN 30 067 146 481 ACN 067 146 481 Unit 2, 613 Whitehorse Rd, Mitcham Victoria 3132 Australia (PO Box 1076, Mitcham North Victoria 3132) Telephone +61 (0)3 9873 7700 Fax +61 (0)3 9873 7711 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: www.alpaca.asn.au Editor Esme Graham Telephone: 07 34253405 Email: email@example.com
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Contents Message From Our President .......................................4 News & Views..............................................................5 Last Mill standing.........................................................6 AAA National Conference .............................................9 The Show will go on!..................................................10 Hypothermia in alpacas..............................................12 Youth Groups............................................................16 Agritourism................................................................18 The â€˜otherâ€™ fleece market............................................22 The business of wethers.............................................28 Melbourne Royal........................................................32 R&D Assisted Reproduction.........................................34 The Quechua Benefit..................................................35 Redesigning the alpaca genetically..............................38 National Alpaca Week.................................................45 Under Tension...........................................................47 Paca Pics...................................................................51
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Contributions are accepted at the sole discretion of the publisher and the publisher reserves the right to edit contributions for style or content. No correspondence will be entered into as to why a contribution may have been rejected or edited. In submitting articles for publication contributors accept, acknowledge and agree with these terms.
Millpaca......................................................................2 Creswick Woollen Mills.................................................7 AAA National Conference..............................................8 Flowerdale Alpacas.....................................................14 Millduck Alpacas.........................................................15 Alpaca Dynamics........................................................17 Vista Del Sud Alpacas.................................................25 Illawarra Prime Alpaca...........................................26-27 AAA National Show & Sale..........................................31 GrandeVerge Alpaca Supplies......................................33 Caramia Alpacas........................................................33 MTA Travel................................................................37 Farmbitz....................................................................44 Chiverton Alpacas......................................................50 Wendy Voon..............................................................50 Constellation Alpacas..................................................50 Didohama Alpacas......................................................50 Currabungla Alpacas...................................................50 Peter Cook................................................................50 Monteagle Alpacas.....................................................50 Gunnamatta Alpacas..................................................50 Surilana.....................................................................52
Cover: EP Cambridge Invictus A record breaking $175,000 was recently paid by an overseas buyer for lnvictus who was the Supreme Huacaya - 2012 Australian National Champion owned by Mathew & Cathy Lloyd of EP Cambridge.
President’s Message I welcome all of our members and subscribers to the Spring Edition of the Alpacas Australia magazine. Alpacas often complement many other business interests, and in this edition we share how some of our members blend these different interests and have identified their niche to create successful ventures. Some of our members are value-adding to their alpaca enterprises by processing their fleece and creating their own end product, tapping into the highly popular craft market – did you know that the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that households spent $250m per year on art and craft materials? A significant number of Australians participate in a range of fibre-related craft activities, either through organised groups or classes or at home. Many knitting books include patterns for items made from alpaca fibre, and there is a growing interest and awareness in using natural, environmentally-friendly products. Our alpacas are one of the most environmentally friendly livestock farmed in Australia, and have a nature and appearance that is highly appealing – what a great asset we have! There have been a number of shows and promotional events providing an opportunity to showcase the excellence and advancement in our breeding programmes and to inform and educate the broader community about alpacas and the alpaca industry. Educational opportunities are also provided to members through a range of activities organised at a regional level, and we will be holding our 2014 National Conference in Adelaide from May 9 – 12, providing delegates an excellent opportunity to learn about the business of farming alpacas, through sharing in the knowledge of our presenters, hearing about the latest in research, and networking with others who share the same passion for alpacas. I’d like to remind you that membership of the AAA is open to all and provides various benefits, development opportunities and the security of animal registration on the International Alpaca Registry. A range of membership options are available, including overseas and educational memberships. If you are interested in joining the AAA, or would like to know more about the Australian alpaca industry, please visit our website at www.alpaca.asn.au or call our national office on 61 (3) 9873 7700 for further information. I hope you enjoy reading this edition of the Alpacas Australia magazine, and that you will recommend it to potential subscribers. I encourage you to provide feedback to our Editor, submit articles for publication, and to give due consideration to the advertisers and their products or services.
Kind regards Michelle Malt AAA President
News & National Rabbit Management Facilitator appointed
Rabbits are Australia’s number one feral pest animal with impacts causing agricultural production losses of more than $200 million per year and threatening more than 75 nationally threatened plant species and five threatened ecological communities. Today an important initiative to combat the growing wild rabbit problem in Australia is the appointment of Dr Lisa Adams as the first National Rabbit Management Facilitator who in combination with innovative rabbit research by the Invasive Animals CRC will work with communities of landholders across the nation to combat the rabbit scourge. To assist landholders to better control wild rabbits, the Invasive Animals CRC has published the PestSmart: Glovebox Guide for Managing Rabbits available free to download at: <http://www.feral.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/2013/01/Rabbit GBG_web.pdf>. For more information contact: Dr Lisa Adams, (03) 9658 4707 and 0438 819 687.
Deadline for articles & advertising Issue 70 1st October 2013 Magazine Due - Late Nov 2013 All editorial contributions should be typed and preferably submitted electronically as a Word document. Photographs should be digital, high resolution, sent as attachments, to ensure good reproduction.
Have you ever wondered what would be the best lining for a bird’s nest? Probably not! We hadn’t either until we made a remarkable discovery. Besides alpacas, we have a wide variety of other interests and activities, and one of them is bird watching. The first, and biggest, nest I noticed had fallen from a big tree in one of the alpaca paddocks. I brought it home because of its lining. The other two nests we found on one of our walks in our back paddock which is practically all natural native grassy box woodland. They were much smaller and lighter, in fact they were hardly noticeable, flattened among the dry grass where they had fallen. However, when I straightened them up I also noticed that they were lined similarly to the first nest! What was the lining? Alpaca of course. This was not that surprising, even though our neighbours have sheep. We all know that alpaca is soft, warm and a good insulator. The surprising thing was that despite my herd being predominantly white or very light fawn, (at that stage 2 brown in a herd of 40), these nests included more than the expected proportion of brown! Why would a bird choose brown? Brown is a good serviceable colour? The brown animals were quieter when they tried to collect the fleece? Maybe they instinctively knew that brown, being the darkest colour absorbed the heat better, and they were thinking of keeping the eggs warm when they left the nest for a while.
Advertising should match specs provided by the AAA office. Whatever the colour chosen for lining nests, this little story shows that alpacas fit very well in the natural Australian environment. A nest lined with alpaca is best.
Last Mill Standing An evolution in textiles
Boaz Herszfeld, a third-generation member of the Creswick Mills' dynasty. Boaz laughingly describes his family-owned company Creswick Woollen Mills as the best example of Darwinism in Australian textiles, and with a 65-year history behind it, nobody's arguing.
He and a mate eventually bought 10 acres (four hectares) of land in rural Victoria and built the mill. He remained active there until his mid-90s.
The company has Australia's last coloured wool-spinning mill, a throwback from when the country did ride on the sheep's back. While the mill still operates profitably, evolution has been in play.
Having survived a war and the challenges of being a new immigrant, Ryzowy had to contend with economic changes – the dismantling of tariff protections in the mid-1980s and textile conglomerates gobbling up smaller mills about the same time.
The company, 130 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, was once one of hundreds of wool spinners in Australia after the Second World War. It is now part mill, part purveyor of quality branded goods, with a strong retail presence in Victoria.
“While he had reservations about making big changes, my grandfather understood implicitly that India and China would be able to produce products with their low-cost wages and raw materials,” Herszfeld says.
Herszfeld puts the company's survival down to the tenacity of his late grandfather Paul Ryzowy, a refugee from war-torn Poland, who was in charge of the business from 1947 until early this century. Ryzowy was said to have escaped Russia by walking 300 kilometres across the country in the dead of winter, before stowing away on a ship and spending time in Japan, China and New York.
“The only way to win was to increase the value of the raw material, not cheapen it. We went for alpaca fleece, 100 per cent merino wool, cashmere and cotton because we knew that a large proportion of society still hungered for quality natural fibre products.”
Arguably more difficult than all of this has been the arrival en masse of cheap imports which have all but destroyed the business in Australia. While Creswick is the only coloured woollen spinning mill left, three other mills still make carpet yarn.
Herszfeld believes Ryzowy's decision to stay upmarket saved it from annihilation. “While everybody went one way, we went the other. Australian mills couldn't compete with cheap imports and one by one they closed. “It left a niche for a high-quality player and many people were getting sick of synthetics. We filled that gap.” Creswick's development of a luxury consumer product range is now its mainstay but it has not lost its original function. About 30 per cent of materials are still spun at the mill. All the same, it has adapted the business to be all things. It acts as a wholesaler to other companies (it is David Jones' biggest supplier of blankets and throws) and a retailer (it has five shops in Victoria and an online outlet). It is not precious about everything being Australian made or derived. It imports materials such as cotton and cashmere from overseas and outsources manufacturing of other items. Herszfeld admits that since taking over in 2002, the trend has been to decrease local manufacturing and step up retailing. The changeover seems to have worked. He estimates a tripling of revenues in the past decade. When he took over, the core business was still producing rolls of fabric and kilos of yarn. This year he will open the company's sixth shop, which will sell throws, blankets, high-quality thermals, jumpers and even some more unusual products such as beanies made from New Zealand possum. Products are one thing, nostalgia another. As the last wool spinner, Creswick has become a tourist destination attracting 80,000 people a year to see a working mill and the flocks of alpacas. “We have a carding machine that resembles a Yorkshire carding machine from the 18th century. It's used to convert alpaca fibre into yarn. While we have put in the electronics, it's still very close to what was used way back then.”
AAA National Conference Alpaca Excellence - The business of farming alpacas Featured speakers Speaker: DR ANDREW PADULA BVSc(Hons) PhD MACVSc Dip. ECAR
Topic: Camelid immunoglobulins â€“ new opportunities for the Australian alpaca industry. Andrew Padula is a veterinarian based in Bairnsdale, Victoria. Andrew has a PhD from the University of Melbourne and has European Veterinary Specialist qualification in ruminant herd health and reproduction. He has worked in academia, industry issues management and private veterinary practice. He has a driving interest in applications that utilize animals to improve the lives of humans. Andrew is also an honorary senior research fellow of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne. All camelid species produce a unique type of immunoglobulin molecule that forms a critical part of the immune system and Immunoglobulins are used in many human and veterinary medical products. These include the familiar tetanus immunoglobulins, snake antivenoms, botulism anti-toxin, anti-cancer antibodies plus many other established and emerging therapeutic products. There is a billion dollar global industry in immunoglobulin products. Australia is in a unique position with its low disease risk (no mad cow disease) and abundance of alpaca to manufacture and export these lifesaving immunoglobulin products. This may create new niche market opportunity in the alpaca industry other than tradition fibre, protector and meat. This presentation will discuss recent research findings and explore the unique properties of alpaca immunoglobulins.
Trade Stands Expressions of interest are now sought from anyone wishing to book trade stands for the conference. Competitively priced, single booths (3m x 3m) will cost $550 inc GST, and double booths (6m x 3m) will cost $880 inc GST. These prices include standard fascia name board, two spotlights and one power point. A wide variety of furniture and display options are available to hire from the trade stand contractors. Trade stands will be positioned in the central conference area which will host the opening night cocktail party, all morning and afternoon teas as well as lunches throughout the conference. Trade stands must be set up early on Friday 4th May and dismantled late on Sunday 6th May.
Speaker: GREG RUNDLE BA(Acc), CA, SAFin Topic: Is your Alpaca Farm a business or a hobby? Greg Rundle is a director and senior adviser at 360Private Pty Ltd. As a chartered accountant and financial planner he specialises in providing advice to small and medium size organisations in the areas of taxation, structuring and high level business advice. After 18 years in practice, Greg has advised various types of primary producers, including those associated with the alpacas. In this respect he has helped arrange structures and business plans for the successful establishment and running of alpaca ventures. Greg also concentrates on family groups so that he can fully understand the impact that business and professional life has on the financial status of the broader family. This helps link superannuation, investments and insurance advice to clientâ€™s affairs as these are critical for long term planning as well as protecting valuable assets. Greg is the chairperson of the 360Private Investment committee which is charged with ensuring that a rigorous process in the selection of stocks is undertaken. This allows the firms strong ideal of value investing and capital protection to be front of mind at all times.
Conference registration Registration will be open from 1st October. Earlybird registration closes 31st January. Full registration closes 14th April.
Single (for 3 days)
Couples/Stud rate (for 2 people)
Students (for 3 days)
1 day registration
Dinner tickets (Saturday)
Cocktail Party (Friday)
Enquiries: email@example.com or Ph. Nick 0418 224 886
The Show will go on! By Prue Walduck, Chair - S&J Reference Panel.
As the saying goes “the show must go on”. The recent AAA Judge training and selection course has ensured “the show will go on” for many years to come. Twenty participants, with representatives from all States of Australia and New Zealand attended the four day course comprising two days education and two days assessment. Included in the twenty were three Junior Judges - Alysia Smith, Taryan Kotsiakos and Amber O’Neill. As consistent winners of Junior Judging competitions all three, along with Emma Parker (2012 National Winner of Junior Judging), Alex Staples and Ariana McCauley, were invited to participate in a Pilot “AAA Junior Judge Bridging” Program. This program aims to create a pathway for junior judges to transition to the AAA Apprentice Judging program.
The course was conducted at Canchones Alpaca Stud, Taggerty, Victoria. We are in debt to Robert & Peter for their generosity – it was no small task to open up their beautiful property, allowing us to use their facilities along with some of their animals. At times there were up to 50 people on their property. Thank you Peter and Robert. Thanks also to our President Michelle Malt for attending and assisting during the 4 days. In preparation for the Judging School, participants had worked with AAA Level 1 Judge Mentors, completing pre-course written assignments with most attending individual studs to gain more hands on experience. Special thanks is extended to Surilana, Kurrawa and Elysion studs who hosted suri workshops as part of this pre-course preparation. Five of Australia’s most senior Judges, Lyn Dickson, Angela Preuss, Jenny Jackson, Natasha Clark & Peter Kennedy were the trainers - sharing their wealth of alpaca knowledge and judging experience in both theoretical and practical hands on sessions. Our industry is so lucky to have Judges of this calibre prepared to voluntarily share their knowledge with others.
The practical sessions on Saturday were a logistical challenge – dare I say nightmare! In excess of 80 animals were required for the hands on animal sessions with participants rotating at 20 minute intervals to examine 9 different groups of animals, both suri and huacaya. With each rotation, participants were given a harder activity eg 1st rotation entailed assessing an individual alpaca, with full oral reasons on a group of animals in the final rotation. The final rotation of three alpaca groups had been previously placed by the assessors and the participants placings were assessed via the Hormel scale method and made up part of the overall assessment. Special thanks is extended to the many local breeders who in addition to supplying alpacas for the workshops also stood all day holding them whilst being assessed by the participants. Participants also rotated at 20 minute intervals through fleece workshops where they commenced assessing micron building to judging a fleece against the scorecard on the final rotation. The assessment phase was conducted over two days. Peter, Lyn, Natasha and Angela were the Assessors. Needless to say it was intense with each participant: Ÿ Sitting a 1.5 hr written General Exam Ÿ Judging a class of huacayas and delivering oral reasonings to 6th place within a set timeframe. Ÿ Judging a class of suri and delivering oral reasonings to 6th place within a set timeframe Ÿ Sitting a 1.5 hr written Fleece Exam Ÿ Within a set timeframe judging a huacaya fleece class Ÿ Within a set timeframe judging a suri fleece class. Again – special thanks to those who supplied a different set of animals for the assessment phase and to the animal handlers. We are delighted to advise that nine participants have been invited to enter the AAA Apprenticeship Judging Program with two intakes.
Ben Schmaal, Dean Ford, Andrew Munn, Molly Gardner (NZ), and Di Marks (NZ) will commence their apprenticeship immediately. Sophie Jackson, Marc Mullette, Adrienne Clarke and Bronwyn Munn are in the second intake which is expected to commence within twelve months. With regards our Junior Judges - Amber O’Neill has qualified to enter the Apprenticeship Judging Program on reaching 21 years of age, with Taryan and Alysia being invited to participate in future judge training. Congratulations is extended not only to the above who are to become new apprentices, but also to the remaining participants who were so dedicated and passionate in their endeavours to become a AAA Judge. It was so rewarding to see each and every one of you contribute and grow over the 4 days. In conclusion I would like to “publicly” thank the fantastic team who worked diligently for months to deliver the Judges School – Peter Kennedy, Lyn Dickson, Natasha Clark, Sandra Vella, and Jim Black. On seeing the quality of the next Apprenticeship Intakes – it was all worthwhile!
HYPOTHERMIA IN ALPACAS By Andrea Glew - Hill Farrance Alpacas
It may seem strange that animals who have originated in one of the coldest locations on earth can succumb to hypothermia or cold stress. The fact that such a thing can happen during the warmer parts of the year here in Australia may seem even stranger at first. However, adult alpacas can suffer from cold stress during freak cold snaps following shearing, when they are without the protection of their exceptionally warm fleece. Older animals, nursing mothers, thin animals and those suffering from nutritional deficiency are particularly susceptible. Very young animals born during autumn and late winter can also be at risk. Weather conditions to watch for are a sudden and severe drop in temperature, prolonged rain and cold wind. Each can be dangerous on its own but they are especially deadly in combination. Common sense husbandry practices and property improvements can substantially minimise the risk of hypothermia. As well, having an emergency plan and a supply of treatments on hand in the event of cold stress is a wise move. Animals with hypothermia may live for some hours, which means they have a good chance of recovering if quick action is taken. Symptoms Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature of an alpaca falls below the normal range of 37.5 to 38.6 degrees C. Some breeders have observed body temperatures as low as 32 degrees C while others were not even able to get a temperature to register on the rectal thermometer. The drop in body temperature in turn causes poor circulation. Apart from low body temperature, shivering would seem to be the other obvious symptom but in fact hypothermia is not always easy to recognise. Shivering is simply a contraction of muscles and is the bodyâ€™s way of generating heat. Once the alpaca has used up its store of energy, shivering stops and the body temperature begins to drop. However, it is easy to miss this initial
stage of hypothermia, especially if the onset of bad weather occurs at night. Other signs of hypothermia include slow and shallow breathing, a slow heart rate (around 16 beats a minute), mental depression and coma. Shivering also occurs when the animals begin to warm up. At times shivering can be confined to the head but at other times the whole body. One breeder has likened it to the symptoms of staggers. Adult alpacas Breeders whose animals were severely affected during the cold snap of February 2005 reported that adults were often found in the paddock in the cush position and would not or could not stand. One breeder found a young male lying flat on his side, with the only noticeable movement being in the eyelids. When lifted for transport, the alpacas could not straighten their legs and they were also reluctant to open their jaws when their owners tried to administer electrolytes and other oral treatments. Crias Fowler and Fowler state that picking up a cria suffering from cold stress is like picking up a limp rag. They add that, while low body temperature and other typical symptoms may well indicate hypothermia, a cria in the final stage of blood poisoning can also show the same signs. However, animals suffering from blood poisoning will not become brighter as their body temperature returns to normal. Treatment It is important to get the animals under shelter and warm as soon as possible. A barn, shed or stable with a power supply makes an ideal shelter and treatment centre. However, this is not always possible so breeders make do with whatever is to hand and have even taken severely affected alpacas inside the house if no other warm, dry spot is available. If the alpacas are not too badly affected, stabling them somewhere dry and providing plenty of feed (good quality hay for preference) should be adequate. Unlikely though it may seem,
digestion of feed that has a high fibre content generates considerably more body heat than concentrates. Other feeds that are good sources of energy and therefore body heat are crushed lupins and crushed or steamed barley and oats.
dryer on low setting. Put a thermally insulated coat on the cria for extra warmth. If no cria coat is available, a child’s jumper can be used as an emergency substitute. Put the cria’s front legs in the sleeves, then roll the sleeves above the cria’s knees
Where animals are more severely affected, stronger measures are needed to restore their body temperature. The ideal is to call on your local veterinarian for help in treating severely coldstressed animals. Be aware, though, that your vet may not be able to respond immediately to a call for help, as he or she may already be busy treating other livestock. You will therefore have to administer emergency help until your vet arrives.
Be careful when raising the body temperature of a hypothermic alpaca. One’s natural instinct is to do it as quickly as possible but that can be extremely harmful. The external body temperature should not be increased in advance of the internal temperature, particularly with animals that are suffering from severe cold stress. Raising internal body temperature Warm glucose fluids can be administered intravenously but this should be done by a veterinarian. Ketol (a product that increases the internal body temperature) can be syringed down the alpaca’s throat. Also have on hand injectable Vitamin B1 and give affected alpacas 3 to 5 ml, depending on their size. These two measures are helpful as a preliminary treatment if a severely affected alpaca needs to be taken to the vet for intravenous administration of warm glucose. Raising external body temperature Floats or stock crates can provide suitable emergency shelter as well as being useful for moving the alpacas out of the paddock. Breeders have also used vans, and electric fan heaters and 500 watt halogen work lights can be hooked up to power and installed in the van to warm the animals. The van’s motor can also be left running to get extra warmth from the vehicle’s heater. The work lights should be placed about a foot from each animal and, along with the heater, moved from left to right to prevent burning of the skin. Hot water bottles and heated wheat bags can be used to warm smaller alpacas but will not be adequate for larger animals. Alpacas can be covered with quilts, blankets or even hessian bags and warmed by using hair dryers on the High setting to blow warm air underneath. However, it is generally not possible to keep this up for long periods such as the two to eight hours needed to restore the alpacas’ temperature to normal. An electric blanket can therefore be draped over affected animals so it is not too close to the skin and left on the lowest setting until they have recovered. A cria with hypothermia can be successfully warmed up by bathing it. Gradually immerse the cria in warm water (40.5 to 45.5 degrees C, or no hotter than is comfortable for your elbow when dipped in the water) in a large kitchen or laundry sink. The water should be deep enough to cover the cria’s back. Hold the cria’s head up as it may not have enough energy to do this itself. While the cria is in the bath, gently massage it all over but concentrating on the extremities to increase circulation. Monitor the cria’s temperature and take it out of the bath and dry it as soon as its body temperature stabilises at 37.8 degrees C. Cover the cria with a towel while drying it in smaller sections with a hair
Strange though it may seem, hypothermic alpacas are generally also dehydrated. It is therefore important to administer electrolytes such as Vytrate or Lectatde as part of their treatment. Make up the electrolyte in warm water according to the instructions on the label and administer it orally using a bottle or 60 ml syringe. Take care that the fluid does not go into the lungs, as older animals may take some time to recover their swallowing reflexes. After-effects Unlike heat stress, hypothermia does not generally have a lasting effect on affected animals. However, with female alpacas it can result in still-births, abortions and small cria. Prevention It is easier to prevent hypothermia or minimise its impact than to treat a group of affected animals. Ensure your property has adequate shelter. The provision of shelter is most important. However, this can often take time to achieve, especially if you have acquired a property that does not have established tree cover. Windbreak plantings need five to ten years to develop to the stage where they give adequate protection. It is beyond the scope of this article to give details about how to establish shelter belts but you can get this information from your local department of agriculture or primary industries. This is more appropriate as well, as the staff can advise which trees do best in your area. As a general guide, though, belts comprising three or more rows of trees, graduating in size from smallest on the outside of the windbreak to tallest in the middle are most effective in deflecting wind and rain. Also, X-shaped windbreaks with “arms” 3 to 4m long give excellent protection as they provide shelter from any direction. Permanent structures such as sheds, stables or barns are valuable, especially if there is a need to treat alpacas with severe hypothermia. However, if it is simply a case of needing to provide shelter, there are some quick and relatively cheap ways of achieving this. Protective structures do not necessarily have to be tall as the alpacas will cush behind them so, where fences meet at corners, stretch shade cloth or fix sheeting along the sides to provide “walls”. A similar strategy can also be used to extend the shelter provided by existing structures. Build up an emergency supply of feed Have on hand an emergency supply of suitable feed as heating your animals internally is a good way to both prevent and treat cold stress. Feeds with a high calorific value include:
• • • •
good quality hay such as lucerne or clover; crushed lupins; steamed or crushed oats, and steamed or crushed barley.
Have a cold stress “first-aid” kit on hand. Try to collect a store of old towels, blankets or hessian bags for emergencies. Synthetic feed bags are also useful as emergency “stretchers” for moving severely affected animals into transport or shelter. Another wise investment is a supply of cria coats in a range of sizes to cover young animals up to the age of about three months, by which time they should have grown enough fleece to protect them from all but the very worst weather. Fleecy-lined dog coats with a water-proof outer shell make excellent cria coats and can be obtained fairly easily at reasonable cost from pet shops.
However, freak weather is by its very nature unpredictable so it is still important to be alert for signs of trouble. The Bureau of Meteorology provides farmers and graziers with storm warnings which are often broadcast on the ABC’s regional radio stations and on television weather reports. Be aware, though, that TV weather bulletins can differ widely in their predictions. As well, by the time one gets to see the evening news, it is generally too late to take action before dark. Consequently, it is wise, if you have internet access, to check the Bureau of Meteorology’s website regularly throughout the day during high-risk periods. Then alpacas can be moved to shelter well in advance of trouble, without anxiety or stress to them or their handlers. The address is www.bom.gov.au and forecasts are updated throughout the day, starting from about 5:30 am. References
Keep a supply of electrolytes on hand as well as injectable Vitamin B1 and Ketol. Have a rectal thermometer and know how to use it. It is also a good idea to have an emergency supply of straw for bedding, extra insulation and to support severely affected animals in the cush position. Be alert for severe weather warnings Most breeders try to organise for shearing or birthings to take place at a time appropriate to the climate of their region.
Youth Groups By L. Lazarus, K. Di Bona, K. Pfeiffer
The future Alpaca Breeders are the youth of today.
These handling practices transfer to either the farm or interacting with the public, with expertise based on an understanding and general knowledge of the alpaca and the industry which it supports.
Simple and straightforward I know, but have you ever considered how much is really out there to train these young people in what they need to know to secure the future of this industry? This is where a new program and event called Paraders comes in. After getting its start in NSW it has recently been introduced to Victoria.
A very successful youth camp was held in New South Wales in October 2012 with twenty-one very enthusiastic young people supported by about fifteen AAA breeders and the NSW RAS. This group has since competed successfully at Camden and Sydney Royal shows and planning is well advanced for a second camp at Illawarra Alpacas on the last weekend in August. For information contact Janie Hicks on 02-48785266 or Karen Di Bona on 0296516536
The initiative is aimed at engaging young people to develop their interest and involvement in the alpaca industry, whether they are children of established breeders, school kids who have an interest in alpacas through their curriculum, or total newbies who have seen alpacas at shows or in their area. Anyone can get involved and you donâ€™t even have to own an alpaca, there are mentor studs who are willing to host these young people. As a competition at shows (AAA run as well as Ag shows) Paraders is a competition designed to demonstrate the bond which can be developed between alpacas and their young handlers, and the skills required for their stress free and successful management. It is a concept already developed in many other agricultural breeds, in the interest of promoting their breed of livestock and to encourage and develop succession planning for their respective industries.
Following the camp held in NSW the Victorian Alpaca Breeders Of The Future camp was held at Hillend in beautiful Gippsland in April. The purpose of the camp was to introduce The Youth Paraders competition to Victoria as well as to teach all aspects of alpacas. At the camp young people (aged 7 - 26 years) were taught halter training, fleece testing, photography, oral speaking, and all facets of alpaca farming.
The two parts to the Paraders competition at shows are; Showmanship - this part of the competition is designed to demonstrate and promote excellence in preparing, presenting and handling alpacas in the context of the show ring. It also demonstrates a sound understanding and general knowledge of alpaca husbandry and farming. Stockmanship - this part of the competition is designed to demonstrate and promote excellence in the handling of alpacas in context of their normal daily management, to demonstrate the relationship and trusting bond developed between alpaca and handler.
The camp was supported by guest speakers Janie Hicks, Ian Davison, Paul Vallely, Louise Lazarus and Jillian Holmes. We also welcomed Jennifer Errey, Heather Burn and Taryan Kotsiakos as trainee Judges. The camp turned out to be a great success with everyone learning a lot and having a great time. Following the camp the Inaugural Paraders competition for Victoria was held at Colourama which saw twenty-one youth compete, displaying a very high standard of professionalism, knowledge, skill and sportsmanship. At the time of writing we are looking towards Colourbration, Melbourne Royal and the Nationals as future competitions, as well as some Local Agricultural shows. The Victorian Region will be holding another camp at Bendigo on 21st and 22nd September. Anyone interested in any aspect of Paraders in Victoria please call Louise Lazarus on 0431039719. In Queensland a group of enthusiastic Rockhampton students who have been volunteering at shows over the past few years have now established The Capricorn Camelid Club with a view to expanding their knowledge of all things alpaca with three local AAA breeders acting as mentors. All three leaders have current Youth Blue Cards. The club objectives are to educate Club Members in the proper care /handling/husbandry/breeding/showing/judging of alpacas, and to offer a low cost, low time commitment for members, so that the learning experience is enjoyable and affordable. These objectives will be driven by the learning needs of the club members, and reviewed at quarterly meetings. Members have made a commitment to spend three consecutive days in school holidays for intensive training. For more information about the Capricorn Camelid Club contact Kelli Pfeiffer on 0409129953.
What is Agritourism? Agritourism is an emerging element in the Australian tourism industry that offers farmers the opportunity for diversification of their business, while presenting other people with the chance to make their ideal lifestyle a sustainable reality. Typically, the tourism aspect of agritourism is built upon a preexisting business, to offer a supporting income. In the case of alpaca farmers, having a B&B business as part of the farm is a great way to support the farming income. For others, alpacas have fitted wonderfully into their accommodation business. The 2010 report, , produced by the Australian Governmentâ€™s Bureau of Rural Sciences, sheds light on the common elements of Australian agritourism. Typically, agritourism grows out of agricultural businesses, and are usually family run and based on the lifestyle goals of individuals who have moved or retired regionally. According to the report, small and diverse farms are best suited for agritourism, with the average property size being 60 hectares. The income generated by agritourism was found to be largely supplementary to the agricultural business, though 21% of the businesses included in the report made 90% of their income from agritourism. The most common reason for businesses to diversify into tourism from agriculture was to find other sources of income, as protection from industry shifts and declining trade.
Within the alpaca industry, agritourism offers many opportunities for alpaca owners and breeders. Initiatives like Farmstays, Bed & Breakfasts and public animal farms are a great way for alpaca owners to introduce people to alpacas and alpaca products. From the members of the AAA we spoke to for this article, all of them have found their alpacas to be a great drawcard for tourists. Also, as very sustainable herds, alpacas are a great fit for agritourismâ€™s focus on sustainability and natural living. While the general research findings are interesting, we wanted to speak to alpaca owners and breeders who have made the leap into agritourism about the approaches they took, and their results. MillDuck Straw Bale - Bed & Breakfast & Alpaca Stud Ada Milley and Prue Walduck, the owners and managers of MillDuck in central Victoria, have combined not just their names, but their two passions into a successful business and ideal lifestyle. Then working in HR Management, Prue saw her first alpacas and in addition to falling in love, also recognised the business potential deciding it was time to return to her farming background. Ada, also eager to return to her country roots, left teaching to pursue her dream of owning a B&B in the country. MillDuck Alpaca Stud commenced in 1993 with Ada & Prue building their dream strawbale home and two units in 2000 with the B&B opening in 2001.
Glenhope Bed & Breakfast (and Glenhope Alpacas) Glenhope Bed & Breakfast and Alpacas is located near Armidale in Northern NSW. Owners Bronwyn and David Mitchell came from a sheep and cattle farming background, before making the transition to Alpaca farming. Their extension into agritourism began in 1997, as their children were leaving the nest. It started with one self-contained unit, and once the business picked up, they added another. David says it was a good opportunity for his wife Bronwyn to be able to work from home and have the chance to be around the alpacas more. The B&B’s visitors include many international students from the nearby university, and families or couples seeking a relaxing few days.
Since the award winning B&B opened, visitor numbers have steadily increased, many being returning guests. Ada says some guests are considering a ‘tree change’ and come to experience strawbale and the rural lifestyle, including the alpacas, others just want to ‘hideaway in the hills”. Ada is actively involved in the local B&B Association and passionate about strawbale and solar passive design, offering house tours to guests considering building in this medium. Both women share their knowledge on farm establishment with Prue occasionally running workshops on animal husbandry and establishing an alpaca stud. Financially the two sides of the business complement each other. The B&B has consistent and predictable expenditures with an equally consistent income which complements the less predictable alpaca revenue stream. Whether they came primarily for the alpacas or not, MillDuck’s visitors always leave with more knowledge. MillDuck offers its visitors the chance to see any cria births that coincide with visits, and Ada said 90% of people, when asked if they’d like to be woken up in the early hours of the morning to see a birth, are eager. Some visitors even help out, in their own way. Ada and Prue have a tradition of naming their cria with the next letter of the alphabet each year. This year they’re at Q, so there’s a Quigli and a Quentin. When they were at O, Prue mentioned to some visitors that she was struggling to come up with names commencing with “O”. She then said goodnight and left the guests with a few bottles of red next to the fire. The next morning after checkout, Ada found a list of 69 ”O“ names left in the cottage – Prue made sure some were used!
David holds workshops on the farm, and is always happy to take visitors on tours. He agrees that the cuteness and uniqueness of alpacas are an attraction for many tourists. “They see this B&B as being a little bit different.” While some enjoy the tranquillity and are happy to look from the comfort of the gardens, many visitors take the opportunity to get up close to the farm’s permanent residents; “They want to feed them, know things about them, sit with them, they’re friendly animals, and people get amongst them.” The Mitchells have made a point of networking with the Northern Tableland B&B Association, as well as with the surrounding tourist information centres. They also advertise through TripAdvisor.com and have developed a comprehensive website for both sides of the business. Their B&B rarely goes more than 3 days without visitors, and spends much of its time close to or fully booked.
Ada and Prue have put much time, thought and care into the experience they create for visitors. Elements like real fires, toasting forks, a spacious spa in each cottage and places to sit for the best views all over the property have seen many visitors return, and even buy vouchers as gifts for friends. Some have also bought alpacas. The core of MillDuck is clearly Ada and Prue’s passion for what they love doing, and their excellent development of the two complementary sides of the business.
The Denmark Animal Farm & Pentland Alpaca Stud The Denmark Animal farm in Western Australia began as a family farm owned by Marg & Laurie Binks. They originally farmed potatoes and dairy, then decided they would like an animal farm. Their daughter Debbie, who now runs the farm with her husband Stephen following her parent’s retirement, told us how her parent’s first discovered alpacas when they were featured as the centrefold in the Town and Country Farmer magazine. Her father Laurie said, “I want some of them.” And that was that. Having never yet seen alpacas in person, Laurie and Marg bought four alpacas from NZ, one boy and three girls. One of the girls was born in Chile, but the rest had been bred in New Zealand. When the alpacas arrived in September 1990, they were the first alpacas to see Western Australia. The farm opened on Boxing Day, 1990, and has been a popular attraction ever since, with a wide variety of animals, including the other crowd favourites, koalas.
helped that Laurie become a well-known figure in the alpaca industry, and travelled to many national shows with his alpacas. Debbie tells of her father’s favourite trick to do at shows, so people could see the friendliness of his animals; “He’d put an alpaca pellet in his mouth and the alpaca would come take the other end.” This obviously much-loved family business is going just as strong in its second generation, with the stud running 110 alpacas and the farm open to the public every day. While these businesses moved into agritourism from the agricultural side of the fence, there are others who began in tourism then fell in love the alpacas, who have also developed a successful business with alpacas at their centre.
The alpacas became the drawcard of the animal farm, and were a huge attraction. It was at the Denmark Animal Farm that thousands of people over the years met their first alpacas. “We always pick the friendliest ones to bring up to the top paddock for visitors. We make sure they’re not the few who spit!” says Debbie. In the early days, it was Laurie’s alpacas at his Pentland Alpaca Stud that supported the tourism part of the business, however as alpacas became slowly more common in Australia, and the animal farm and its onsite shop became more popular, the tables turned and the animal farm now brings in a more consistent income. It
about them. She noted how many people are surprised by how quiet alpacas are; “They perceive them as peaceful animals, and they really like that.”
Flowerdale Alpacas Jeffrey and Carol Farman were running an accommodation destination in the Dandenongs, Victoria, with a focus on conferences and business retreats. Then in 2000 they went to South America for a conference themselves, and they discovered alpacas. A plan quickly formed. Since they already had property, and were interested in developing a farm, they bought four alpacas and brought them home. Thirteen years on, they house a herd of 400. They incorporate the alpaca stud into many aspects of their preexisting business. They run popular three day introduction workshops to alpaca breeding, accommodating visitors on site, and guiding many new people into alpaca breeding. Jeffrey aims his workshops to develop people’s confidence and give them hands-on experience with the handling and husbandry aspects of owning alpacas. Alongside this the Farmans have continued developing their accommodation business, hosting craft clubs, cycling clubs, prayer groups and conferences, among many others. All are accommodated at Flowerdale’s major venue, Country Place, in its 62 rooms. They also have a two-bedroom cottage for families and couples, who come to simply enjoy the surrounds and the inhabitants. Recently Flowerdale has had great interest from Chinese tourists who are eager to see alpacas, and Jeffrey expects this to be a point of future growth. Madison’s Mountain Retreat Another unique agritourism business, Madison’s Mountain Retreat, formed as an agritourism destination from the beginning. Directors Debbie and Geoff Redelman wanted a property that was close to Sydney where they could house animals, and came across a pre-existing accommodation business surrounded by national parks near Kurrajong Heights, NSW, and saw its potential. They developed it into a busy farmstay with the ability to sleep 50 people in cabins and train carriages suitable for romantic couples, families, group get togethers and other events, and have been running it for the last 8 years. The Redelmans first met alpacas at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and realised how well alpacas would suit their property. The alpacas are a much-loved feature of the retreat, and have given visitors many lovely and memorable experiences, such as taking part in the daily feeding, halter training or even experiencing a cria birth. Debbie said their visitors especially enjoy feeding and meeting the alpacas, and ask many questions
The Future of Agritourism Agritourism presents itself as a positive direction for alpaca farmers and lovers alike. It is being driven by government initiatives that position agritourism in a large role in the future of Australian tourism, as a means of boosting Australia’s tourism profile while supporting our agricultural industry. The National Long-Term Tourism Strategy established by Tourism Research Australia in 2009 outlined Australia’s need for new tourism suppliers to support the focus on generating demand. Its goal is to elevate tourism to a national status, founded on a strong partnership between public and private sectors, and co-operation and co-ordination between locally interested parties. The report highlights the importance of understanding the unique selling points of your pre-existing business, and forging local links in order to create a wider range of tourism opportunities, without over-extending your own business. Other important elements of establishing and supporting agritourism within a pre-existing business include a phase of extended market research within your region, and ongoing marketing once the business is established. Sustainability is another major feature, which gives alpaca farmers a head start. Connecting with local food tourism is another key feature, as is further education undertaken by farmers in areas not heavily associated with their work, such as marketing, customer relations and product development. At the Tourism Ministers’ Council in April 2010, the Tourism Ministers allocated an additional $2.2million to implement the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy, and this money is filtering out nationally to a range of different tourism initiatives. The direct result of this can be seen most recently in the March 2013 grant allocations by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism grants. In the first round of the 2013 Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund (TIRF) grants, 65 tourism businesses or initiatives all around Australia received amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Agritourism was featured several times in these grants, and given its growing popularity, we can expect to see further development of the pre-existing agritourism ventures as well as newly formed enterprises. And seeing how well alpaca fit into agritourism is some great fodder for thought.
The ‘other’ fleece market By Editor & Anne Marie Harwood - Echo Beach Fibre Processing
It is very easy to write off the craft market as insignificant – people playing around with a hobby in their spare time. In 2011 The Craft & Hobby Association in the United States released results of research into the US Craft & Hobby Industry. You may be surprised to learn that the net worth of this industry is US $29 billion. A surprising figure to emerge from this research (even to avid craft enthusiasts) is that over half of US households acknowledge engaging in a craft activity at least once per year. Over 30.4 million households participate in either knitting or crocheting. The crocheting participants generate sales of just over one billion dollars. Southern hemisphere crafters are every bit as enthusiastic about their hobby. Australia has less than one fifth of the population of US however, we managed to spend an estimated $250 million on art and craft materials in 2009-2010. These figures are not a true representation of the Australian craft industry however as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) define a hobby as an activity that was undertaken only for oneself or for family or friends, that is, the output was not for general consumption. If the item produced was to sell, then this would be considered a work involvement and not measured in the hobby category. The ABS survey showed that in 2007 there were 2.1 million people aged 15 years and over in Australia who were involved in Art and craft as a hobby activity.* Definitely a market the alpaca industry needs to consider!
So…..The shearers been, your shed is filled with bags of fleece where do you go from here? Anne Marie Harwood from Echo Beach Fibre Processing** has many years of experience with helping breeders process their fleece and offers the following information for those who would like to make use of their own fleece. “Alpacas are fabulous animals & alpaca fleece is a fabulous fibre but you need to prepare it properly to get the most out of all of your hard work breeding, showing, shearing. Just follow these few easy steps and then you are on your way. At shearing time make sure that you bag the saddle separate from the neck and legs. After shearing, decide which fleece you’d like to do something with. If you are new to this, just select one, not a cria fleece, but one which has a soft feel and nice staple conformation without badly weathered tips. Cria fleeces usually have tips which hide all manner of vm (vegetable matter) and are sometimes tender. Get the fleece out on a table and skirt off any short, hairy, very dirty bits and any other unrecognisable pieces. These are usually around the edges like the belly and close to the neck area. Then,
go over the fleece a handful at a time by pulling it apart to loosen any other vegetable matter, grit/sand/general dirt. Put this opened fibre into another bag and continue on to another handful. This sounds time consuming but you will get quite fast at this if you have selected a fleece which isnâ€™t too contaminated. A few things to check for along the way are: Staple length - not less than 75mm (3") and no more the 150mm (6") . Tender Fleece - this is when the fleece has a weak section. Hold the staple between both hands and give a quick tug. If it breaks, it is unsuitable for processing. Insect infestation - any fleece with moths, lice or lice eggs is not acceptable.
After all this work, you then have to decide on a processor. These days, there are a few to choose from. The AAA website has a listing of processors. With the end product, you also have quite a few choices: Rovings - for handspinning or felt making. Rovings from the carder can be spun directly from the bag or bump. Thereâ€™s no wastage or messy flicking, combing or arranging. A bump is a large wound ball of rovings which are convenient for storage. Batts or Dehaired Fibre - for doonas or felt making A cheap and simple way of making a doona is to sew two sheets of calico or japara together and sew into channels. Using washed and dehaired fibre, you can then insert it into channels and secure in sections. Batts can also be used for hand felting with endless possibilities. Yarn - for knitting, weaving, crochet or other crafts Depending on the envisaged end use, the yarn can be processed into 2ply to 8ply. It can be finished off in cones, skeins or balls. Despite alpaca fleece coming in so many shades, there is still the need for colour in weaving, knitting and crochet. Alpaca yarn dyes well and for this you would choose skeins. Felt - for items such as bags, cushion covers or wall hangings. It can also be used for garments and scarves and 3D felted items. From our mini mill felting table, your felt sheet will be 900 x 1200mm and can be thin for garments or thick for wall hangings or rugs. You can get 2 sheets per raw kilo of fleece. Other uses - from the neck fleece, if its of sufficient length, you can have it processed into rovings or felt. Shorter neck fibre and leg fibre can be used unprocessed as dog bed stuffing. Hand washed fibre could be used for cushion stuffing and the like.
The End Product Your fleece is now prepared and this is where your artistic talent comes to the fore. Whether you are â€œcraftingâ€? for family and friends or intend to sell your product, it is important that you start with a yarn/felt/batt etc suitable for the finished product so you are not disappointed with the end result. So for beginners donâ€™t hesitate to ask for help before you start, you will find that most craft people enjoy sharing their knowledge. Fibre Processing Explained For Fleece to be turned into Yarn, it has to go through many different processes. Following is a brief description of each stage. Picker - the fleece is fed through a picker which opens the staples, allowing for the fleece to be washed more thoroughly Washer & Drying - up to 6kgs of fleece can be washed at a time or 3 different fleeces. (Other mills may prepare different quantities) Conditioning - oils are sprayed onto the clean dried fleece to eliminate static build up. Dehairer - the coarse & medulated fibres are separated from the quality fibres. Carder - the fibres are carded into rovings. For hand spinners, the rovings are placed in bags or wound into bumps. Batts are produced for felting. Drawframe - the rovings are combined and fed through the draw frame which stretches and aligns the fibres ready for the spinning frame. Spinner - the rovings are then passed through the spinner which turns them into Singles. Plying - 2 or 3 singles are then plied into the finished yarn Steamer - the plied yarn is then passed through the steamer. This process sets the twist of the yarn and is then wound onto cones. and finally..... Cone and Skein Winder - the finished yarn is then put up onto cones or skeins. Skeins are useful when dying of the yarn is required. Cones are best for hand and machine knitting.
The Business of Alpaca Wethers By Jill Rowling and Mike Lake - Marlyn Alpaca
Alpaca is a wonderful fibre. Like other animal fibres, it can be used to make a fabric directly or can be dyed or combined with other fibres to add warmth and softness. We have had a herd of wethers since early 2010, sourcing them from alpaca breeders in eastern NSW. Maybe one day we may look at breeding but there are plenty of other people doing this, and we are really concentrating on a quality fibre product. Our aim is to make 100% alpaca yarn available to retailers, knitters, spinners and weavers who prefer the natural colour or are making their own blend. Benefits of using alpaca wethers include:
Buying stock Let's say the wether is bought as part of a small group of wethers and young entire males. To keep the price per animal down, I might be looking at buying a small group rather than one or two. I will talk to the breeders by email and visit them at shows or open days, as this gives me an idea as to what type of animals they have, and if the animal shown has the type of fleece that I'm looking for. We will also look for an animal with good temperament and health. We go over the fleece stats, including those of the sire and dam if available. Finally when I have a short list, we go into the paddock where we can assess the animal’s fleece, temperament and health. Sometimes we make the right decision and sometimes we don't! Occasionally we have bought animals which have gone on to produce such good fleece that we have gone back to the breeder with a shopping list of other young males or wethers from the same line.
Ÿ Castrated alpacas are easier to manage Ÿ Less husbandry than for breeding animals Ÿ Market resale of older animals as guards or lawnmowers for those whose fleece proves unsuitable. For us, it is important that the price of the wether is low enough to allow it to pay itself back in a reasonable time. There are costs associated with the animal's upkeep such as vet fees, shearing and outgoings to the fibre processor. Income comes from its fleece products. As its fleece deteriorates with age (coarse, kemp, medullation etc) then we also need to think about other uses of the wether such as herd guarding. Here it is crucial to have the industry connections with other people who can find uses for wethers. Let's track where the money is going and how to keep costs down.
When buying an alpaca, we sometimes ask for its previous years' fleeces as this gives us a kick start with fleece stock. Quality in this case can vary, as breeders have other priorities than preparing fleeces. Other costs at this stage include transport, so I try to select from breeders who are reasonably close to our farm, a few hours away is fine. We occasionally buy clean skirted fleeces if they are a fineness, colour or phenotype which we currently don’t have. In this case we do need to identify the animal and preferably it’s fleece statistics in case we want to buy the fleece the following year. There is also the possibility that we may be able to swap some of our older alpacas for younger ones with better fleeces. One local breeder buys young unregistered animals as herd guards and some of these have good fleece. Our friend can at times swap his young ones for older animals more suited to guard dutyl A note about fleeces: the prize winning suri fleeces are not what we are after. Instead, what we look for is a lustrous fleece with
density, fineness and a more wave style lock rather than the hard to process pencil-thin staples. For huacayas, the prize winning fleeces are just great. 7 alpacas @ $300.00 ea incl transfer. 10 fleeces @ 10.00 ea. Transport at cost $250.00. Total $2450.00 or $350 per alpaca. As alpacas age Of this small group of alpacas, some will show good herd guard attributes whereas others will be more of a lawn mower. Each will have their own personality which will dictate what happens as they age. Over the years I might note their future uses. Out of our 57 alpacas I would say a dozen are in the micron blow-out range, and would be looking at swapping them out in due course. Back to the financials, suppose I can on-sell a herd guard for $200.00, then he has only cost me $350-$200 = $150. If possible I would arrange to swap him for another animal which ticks all the boxes to maintain our herd size. Here is where the industry contacts are so important otherwise I would not have a market for fox-chasers or lawnmowers. How many years is the alpaca productive? By years 2 and 3, we typically see a peak in production with the greatest fleece weights, and they can be productive up to perhaps years 5 or 6 after which they start to have more guard hair and shorter staples. Amortising the $350 purchase cost over 5 years represents a cost of about $70 per year. Costs associated with keeping the alpacas Each year we would be looking at the cost of shearing, injections and occasionally vet fees. If we have bought an entire young male for instance, we may need to get him castrated. Costs can be minimised if they are done in batches. One time we booked the vet to do eight castrations, saving some costs associated with travel to our farm. Other tasks can be done at shearing. These additional costs work out to be about $40 per alpaca per year as some need more attention than others. This is probably higher than other fleece animals. I don't include the cost of fuel to the farm, running the tractor or power and phone to the premises because that is irrelevant to whether we are running alpacas or raising artichokes. Costs associated with fleece processing There are a few alpaca mini mills in Australia; they are happy to give you their price lists if you ask or check on their web pages. I have noticed over the years that no matter how well I prepare fleeces, I am only going to get 75% yield maximum, and could be as low as 65%. A good deal of the fleece is going to waste, as it is either too short, too hairy or tangled in some vegetable matter that it gets caught by the machinery. However costs are done on the input side, so the best I can do to minimise costs is to maximise yield: pay attention to fleece length, skirting and burr removal.
I would say that I typically get about nine 100 gram balls or skeins of yarn from one fleece. Dividing the processing cost and postage by the number of balls gives you the simple processing cost per ball. We are not going to see third world prices as Australian mini mills have first world costs such as kilowatts of electricity, machinery usage, wear and tear, living expenses. Even so, I am impressed to see that the costs can be kept as low as they are compared with international yarn prices. However that's not the whole cost of the yarn; I need to include the animal cost mentioned earlier, namely $70 + $40 = $110 which I should add to the packet of yarn. If I managed to get 10 balls of fleece, then I should add $110/10 = $11.00 to each ball as a cost of running alpacas before thinking about profit margins. Time Fleece processing takes a lot of time. It all starts at shearing time in September. At this time it is generally not too cold in the Capertee Valley but it's early enough so that grass seeds haven't yet made an appearance as they can make a mess of the coat. After shearing the skirting of the fleece does not take too long. The next step though, picking out VM can take hours per fleece;
and Australian mini mills are very particular that the fleeces contain none to very little vegetable matter. Picking burrs out of the fleece is particularly tricky; I think that our animals take a perverse delight in finding plants that have burrs. This is the one aspect of the fleece business that if I charged my time into the equation, especially at city rates, the fleece preparation side of things would make the operation very expensive. Mini mills are also not the speediest processors, having about a dozen fiddly operations to perform on each fleece, along with the quality control of the yarn. We are told it takes 6 to 8 weeks for processing, but there can be issues at times with spare parts, breakdowns, rush jobs, events, holidays, and so on. So things can take a while. Marketing Eventually we get a nice product back from the mill, which could be yarn, felt, roving, or whatever it is we have ordered. It gets weighed, labelled, photographed and the information placed on our web site. Advertisements are prepared and placed in likely spots; potential customers are shown the product. We also have small garments made up featuring our products which can be shown at field days.
attempting to make a mess with dusty raw fibre. Weavers need good guides on selecting alpaca for weft versus warp, and machine knitters need fine yarn with the right oils added for their equipment. This is all marketing, and needs to be done to encourage the right customers to our industry. There are costs associated with marketing, however they are variable and optional. There are pamphlets for retailers, business cards, logos, magazine adverts, product placement adverts. Is it profitable? Yes, but it is not a get-rich quick business. Over a year, one aims for sales to exceed overall costs, which should happen if our marketing works as planned. It takes a while to get a brand recognised in any industry. We have competitors both in Australia and overseas, and we are always checking that our product compares favourably. Our business plan is to eventually have about 150 alpacas, based on the size of our farm, but we will be growing slowly as we are concentrating on the marketing side at present, along with keeping costs under control. We are aware of the growing meat market but as yet have not gone down this track with our herd.
Fortunately the hand knitters, spinners and weavers are aware of alpaca but we need to help them a bit as the alpaca can be a variable creature in terms of fleece quality, and they may have been put off previously by hairy alpaca. Hand knitters need good patterns which actually take advantage of the unique characteristics of alpaca. Hand spinners need encouragement to try the prepared roving, being much easier to spin than
Melbourne Royal By Russell Dawe - Convenor
2013 saw major developments for the Royal Melbourne Alpaca Show over the weekend of 6 – 7 July. The halter show was held outside the September Royal Melbourne Show period as the ‘normal’ dates conflicted with the World Alpaca Conference in New Zealand – and there was to be reduced space available at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Steve Ridout handled the judging with distinction – commenting on how difficult it was to separate many of the alpacas being presented in many of the classes, and particularly difficult in the judging of championships and the supremes. Supreme Suri was awarded to Supreme Huacaya to
A feature of the Show was the inaugural award of the Di Condon memorial trophy to commemorate the work of Di in the establishment of the association and particularly her work in bringing alpacas to the Royal Melbourne Show. The Di Condon trophy, awarded to the best white female alpaca, was won by . Most successful exhibitor awards went to Canchones (suri) and EP Cambridge (huacaya). Supreme Suri
Di Condon Trophy Best White Female
The change of venue back to the Nicholas Pavilion at the showgrounds, which had been so popular as a show home when available to us 5 or 6 years ago, provided us with both the space to have good penning and a large judging ring – and ventilation that kept a smile on the faces of the alpacas and coats on the backs of the exhibitors. On Saturday evening the RASV provided very well received in-ring hospitality with outstanding food and drinks. Excellent parking and access made arrival and departure at the show very easy. The halter judging was just the first event of the year for the RASV Alpaca Committee. The Alpaca fleece competition for 2013 is part of National Wool Week with alpaca fleece joining that from other fleece industries at the end of August. The September Show period will see the arrival of “Paraders” to the Royal Melbourne which will be of great interest to the visiting public. It will also provide the opportunity for a strong marketing presence for both animals and product. Fiona Martin has organised a range of products including quilts and high fashion by Leslie Shea and others. These will be displayed and will complement the alpaca trade stands elsewhere in the show. My thanks to the members of the organising committee who put so much work into making the show run so smoothly and so successfully. The July date for the show and the good accommodation available were positively received by the exhibitors and provides a great base to allow for the rebuilding of the Royal Melbourne Alpaca Show to return it to the status it held in the show calendar a few years ago.
Research & Development Assisted Reproduction By Simon de Graff - Principle Researcher Sydney University
Developing assisted reproductive technologies in camelids, especially the alpaca, is RIRDC/AAA supported research. The primary goal of this project is to enable the artificial insemination of alpacas with frozen semen. Towards this end, our research has thus far focused on the development of a successful semen freezing technique as well as the effect of ovulation inducing factor on follicular dynamics of the ovary. We are happy to report that we have developed a freezing media that yields mean post-thaw sperm motilities of 40%, which are double the rates achieved in previous studies. Through field experiments, the identity and minimum effective dose of ovulation inducing factor (Ă&#x;-NGF) have been established as has the precise time of ovulation following treatment (essential information when considering the appropriate time to AI). Over the next year we plan to build on these findings by further improving post-thaw sperm quality and conducting preliminary artificial insemination trials with frozen semen.
Ambassador Program From Down Under to the Mountain Top By Mike Safley
The young veterinarian was flanked by three Quechua alpaca breeders, each with their felted cowboy hats firmly in place with nary a smile on their stoic, weather creased faces. The ex-mayor of Macusani, a French national, accompanied the men from Corani, a distant but important alpaca growing region in the province of Carabaya, Peru. The small conference table in Quechua Benefits Arequipa office was rounded out by Aalejandro Tejada, Sandra Carbajal and Mike Safley. Armando Fernandez the veterinarian was enthusiastically explaining that they had come to formally ask for the charities assistance in establishing an Estimated Progeny Difference (EPD’s) program in their region. The three alpaca breeders looked on; impossible to read. Mike turned to the men and asked how the breeders would decide on which alpacas would be chosen to establish the nucleolus herd which is necessary to activate an EPD project. He told them he was concerned that the 150 families that wanted to participate might hold back their best machos and thereby doom the project. The trio finally smiled. “I can see that you understand alpaca breeders” said one of the men. The meeting warmed up a bit and Quechua Benefit said they would consider how they might help. The charitable work of Quechua Benefit in Peru can be difficult to deliver. The largest object is cultural and that includes a considerable presumption that charities are a target of
opportunity for what some call predatory gate keepers. Many of the people who seek assistance are not necessarily motivated by the desire to do good for the poor as much as the desire to do good by themselves. The goal of Quechua Benefit is to deliver services and help directly to the people in need, not the people who would presume to deliver the help second hand using the charities funds. The request from the contingent of breeders held a lot of promise and an opportunity to do good for Quechua Benefits primary constituents, the families of alpaca breeders. For this program to have any hope of success it needs to be a sustainable Peruvian initiative. Quechua Benefit decided to offer assistance through their Ambassador Program. Quechua Benefit began their Ambassador Program in 2002 with the introduction of the International Children’s Network to Peru. They have since worked with; Insight Peru, The Mount Rainer Christian Church, and Amigos Eye Care introducing each of them to Peru. The idea is to introduce international charities to the highlands of Peru and facilitate the process of giving that might not otherwise occur. The combination of international connections, a working presence in the highlands since 1996, and an administrative office in Arequipa allows the Quechua Benefit board of directors to leverage their local knowledge into charitable initiatives that they themselves are not capable of delivering on their own.
In the past the Ambassador Program effort has resulted in eye care and glasses for thousands, cataract surgeries, finding sponsors for dispossessed children at 5 orphanages and on the ground support for the Musqa Runa girl’s home in Macusani. The most recent Ambassador Initiative might well be the most unusual and culturally broad to date. Dr. Armando Fernandez dreamed of using science to improve alpacas in Peru when he approached Mike Safley to discuss the possibility of establishing an EPD program and fleece improvement project. He was familiar with the program in the United States and knew that Mike worked with Quechua Benefit in the alpaca growing regions of Peru. Armando was born and raised in Puno, studied at the National University of Altiplano, graduating as a veterinarian specializing in alpaca research. He has participated in local agricultural fairs as the chief judge of alpacas. After several emails he and Mike agreed to a meet in Arequipa. Dr Fernandez first presented a proposal to organize the EPD program in the Santa Lucia district of the Altiplano. He chose a group of breeders made up of 175 families and 175,000 alpacas. Together Mike and Armando decided on the structure of a nucleolus herd and how it would be established and managed. They agreed to seek the help of Dr Julio Sumar with the selection process and the local municipality for funding.
Next Armando got the mayor of Santa Lucia to promise they would help finance the program if Armando could find the necessary scientific support. Aalejandro Tejada who is project manager for Quechua Benefit in Peru attended the second meeting with Mike and the young veterinarian. Aalejandro quickly pointed out that a promise from the mayor was of little value without an approved grant. And Aalejandro, who spent most of his professional life managing projects in remote areas, ultimately was correct. The money was nowhere to be found. The idea seemed to die until a new email popped up on Mike’s computer screen. Armando took the promise of Quechua Benefit’s technical assistance together with a new proposal to a group of breeders or “Coop” and the Mayor of the municipality of Corani, Edmund Caceress. Corani is next to Macusani in the Carabaya District of Peru. The Coop includes 150 families with 500 family members and is situated in the communities of Quelcaya, Chacaconiza and Chimboya which cover 628 square kilometres. Together they own 42,728 alpacas. The project budget is approximately S/ 2,186,455.00 or about $700,000. The nucleus herd will be pastured on approximately 300 acres and a training centre is projected to be built at the facility.
L-R: Lizeth (host), Frame (breeder), Martin (president of the fair), Dr. Armando Fernandez (Head Judge), Joseph (breeder)
The ability to scientifically establish breeding values or EPD’s for selection of alpacas in Peru will greatly accelerate the improvement of their breeding stock. The potential for positive financial impact on the families of Corani is particularly significant. Today the average family in the group makes $457.00 per year from fiber (50%), meat (40%) and breeding stock sales (10%). Each family makes about 65% of their total income from alpacas. Their largest source of additional income is as unskilled laborers. Armando expects that overall each families income will increase by 30% primarily from the value created by selling classified fibre and additional breeding stock. Aalejandro and Armando then met with the Corani city manager, Michel Francois Portier, who coincidentally had worked with Don Julio Barreda and Quechua Benefit when he was Mayor of Macusani. And even more ironically Don Julio had noted in his book that the foundation stock for Accoyo had come from Quelcaya where the project will be implemented. Michel is an energetic Frenchman who married a Quechua woman from Macusani. As luck would have it he had a high degree of respect for Quechua Benefit and the work they had done while he was mayor. Together the new team of Michel, Aalejandro and Armando successfully applied for and received a financial grant for the project. Then a unique turn in the road led the Ambassador team Down Under. For the program to succeed in the dual goal of increasing the price of the Coop’s fleece and simultaneously improving the genetics of the members’ alpacas it needed a micron measurement device. Mike consulted with Angus McColl of Yocom McColl Testing Laboratories who recommended an OFDA 2000 which is manufactured by BSC Electronics of Australia. None of the large Alpaca Coops in Peru own this kind of testing equipment and it is very expensive. BSC Electronics has been designing and manufacturing fiber testing equipment for almost two decades. BSC is a world leader with a unique range of fibre measurement instruments. All are based on the latest digital video technology, and the machines are used in more than 30 countries around the world. OFDA stands for “Optical-based Fibre Diameter Analyzer”. Angus introduced Mike via email to Mark Brims of BSC in Australia. Together they found a way for Armando’s Coop and the city of Corani to obtain a state of the art OFDA 2000 which
AFD 18.7u, SD: 4.3u, CV, 23.1% CF: 99.2%
recently arrived in Arequipa. Mark and his team are training Armando and his team to use the machine. The second phase of this project is almost complete. The team that will train the technical experts in Peru on the science of population genetics and EPDs is currently being assembled in the United States with the help of Quechua Benefit. The hope is that the program will be ready to roll in November of 2013 when shearing and the new breeding season begins in Peru. Quechua Benefit is interested in this Ambassador project for the following reasons; 1) 2) 3)
It will ultimately be completely sustained by the Peruvian breeders; The prospect that the OFDA machine will allow the Coop to class their fleece and add value for the families; The Coop has agreed that in return for Quechua Benefit becoming Ambassadors for the program and helping assemble the necessary technical assistance that the Coop will provide breeding males to other areas of Peru where the breeding stock is inferior and who badly need to improve the value and quality of their clip and; That Quechua Benefit will leverage their expertise in the project, not their balance sheet.
The board of directors of Quechua Benefit does not expect the project to be without twists, turns and disappointments; after all it has already been from the mountain top to Down Under. But Quechua Benefit is in the business of hope.
by Jim Watts M.V.Sc., Ph.D. SRS速 Alpacas International - www.srsalpacas.com
World Alpaca Conference, Keble College, Oxford University 11 April 2012
Among the herdsires tested, 100% of the primary fibres were medullated in most animals. This is not surprising as it is known (Watts, 2008) that alpaca fibres need to be 17 microns or finer before medullation disappears completely.
Introduction The breeding system I devised for fleece-coated animals (sheep, alpacas, angora goats) in 1988 is based on the selection of environmentally fit animals for low primary fibre diameter and high levels of fibre density and fibre length. Conceptually, fleece selection is based on how pre-papilla cells in the foetal skin regulate wool follicle formation and fibre size (Moore, 1984; Moore , 1989, 1996, 1998). This research defined a pathway for breeding advanced fleece-coated animals. It also overturned the paradigm of selection based on clean fleece weight and fibre diameter and called into question the validity of traditional fleece selection. Why are these specific fleece changes being made ? The fundamental reason is that the genetic regulation of primary fibre diameter differs from that of secondary fibre diameter. Primary fibres form the outer coat of the newborn cria. If these primary fibres are coarse and medullated, the fibres are referred to as guard hair. Guard hair is an undesirable fibre type in most textile products. The secondary fibres form the undercoat, and represent the majority of fibres in the fleece. When direct selection is placed on reducing primary fibre diameter, the response is swift. Primary fibre diameter is highly heritable (Jackson et al, 1988). Guard hair and fibre medullation can be eliminated.
Scientific basis Many of the clues of what to look for and what to measure arose from the scientific research of Moore and co-workers (Moore 1984, Moore et al 1989,1996,1998). Their work, and subsequent studies by Watts and Ferguson, indicate that a large starting population of pre-papilla cells needs to be available in the foetal skin to create the potential for a high number (density) of wool follicles to be formed. High density is likely to occur when the pre-papilla cells are distributed as small clusters. Small clusters give rise to fine diameter fibres. If all clusters are small, the fibres, whether originating from primary follicles or secondary follicles, will be fine in diameter and nonmedullated. Moore and co-workers also proposed that when these small clusters emit strong signals from the base of the wool follicles, the follicle bulb cell turnover is rapid and the fibres grow quickly in length. What body changes need to be made ? Within a species of naturally selected animal populations, near identical phenotypes are everywhere (Figure 1). You only have to look at kangaroos in a paddock, or cockatoos, they are all identical. This phenotype gives the animals the maximum chance of survival and reproduction.
Also by selecting for high fibre density and length, high fleece weights of low diameter wool of exceptional quality are produced. If direct selection is not placed on reducing primary fibre diameter of alpacas, the primary fibres will always be coarser in diameter than the secondary fibres. The data in Table 1 illustrates this point. It shows that among 365 alpaca herdsires tested at my laboratory, the mean primary fibre diameters are higher (by 5.9 to 11.9 microns) than the mean secondary fibre diameters. In this study, there is not one alpaca with primary fibres finer than the secondary fibres. And yet this could be commonplace if selection for low primary fibre diameter is adopted. Table 1 Fibre diameter range (microns)
Primary fibre diameter (microns)
Secondary fibre diameter (microns)
14 to 18
18 to 22
22 to 26
26 to 30
The diameter of the primary fibres is estimated by examining individual fibres drawn from the fleece on a black velvet board (Figure 3). A white board is used for dark coloured alpacas. The frequency of coarse primary fibres and the presence of unwanted pigmented fibres are noted.
Within this body type, high breeding values for eye muscle depth and fat cover are probably desirable. In Merino sheep, these carcase traits help to improve lamb survival. (Table 2).
Table 2. Lamb survival improves when sires with high breeding values for muscle and fat are selected.
Number of lambs born
% lambs weaned
Estimated breeding values for: Eye muscle depth (mm)
Fat cover (mm)
High muscle and fat sires: A
This close fibre inspection is important to do. Relying simply on fleece inspection can be deceiving. For example, the two fleece samples below (Figure 4) had the same frequency and coarseness of primary fibres. It was simply that the primary fibres in the sample on the right were shorter and hidden from view.
Low muscle and fat sires: G
Selection methods The following assessments are made: Ÿ physical assessment of the animal (see description of body type above) Ÿ visual assessment of primary fibre diameter, fibre density and fibre length
Visual assessment of fibre density is based on follicle patterning in the alpaca’s skin (Figure 5).
Ÿ measurement of primary fibre diameter, fibre density and length for potential sires and embryo transfer donors Ÿ progeny assessment for primary fibre diameter, fibre density and fibre length
Follicles are arranged as distinct groups. The groups are small in size (about 1 to 2 millimetres wide). The closer the follicles within each group are packed (usually as a result of their being more follicles per group), the more likely the fibres are to emerge into the fleece as a highly aligned cluster. When this occurs, fibre bundles can be seen. The forerunner to this are thin staples (Figure 6).
The fibre bundle mimics the size of the follicle group (about 1 to 2 millimetres wide). The more follicles that are present in each follicle group, and the closer the groups are packed together, the higher the density will be. The individual fibres in fibre bundles separate easily when the fleece is teased apart. On the other hand, individual fibres in thick staples are invariably entangled and often break when the staples are opened. A ruler is used to measure the fleece length. Also, if the fleece, and the individual fibres when viewed on the velvet board, display high crimp amplitude and low crimp frequency, it is a clue that the fibres are dense and fast growing. Fleeces consisting of long and closely packed fibre bundles are very soft handling and lustrous. The individual fibres usually have exceptional elasticity. The fleece below (Figure 7) is from a 4 year old Huacaya alpaca. It is an example of a high density and length fleece and has a mean fibre diameter of 17.1 microns.
In unshorn cria, the outer coat which consists only of primary fibres, is readily seen. This presents a unique opportunity to gauge the length and diameter of primary fibres. As primary fibres commence growing about 3 months before the cria is born, and the secondary fibres about one month before birth, it follows that the cria fleece with high fibre length is one that has a long, “rat’s tail” tip (Figure 8)
Breeding results In the 6 years the SRS® breeding system has been implemented in alpaca herds in Australia, the primary fibre diameter of Huacaya herdsires has been reduced by 6 microns, secondary fibre diameter has fallen by 3 microns, and fibre density and fibre length have increased by 30% and 25% respectively. Measurements are listed in Table 3. Table 3. Follicle and fibre traits of Huacaya herdsires used in herds implementing the SRS® breeding system in Australia.
Primary fibre diameter (microns)
Secondary fibre diameter (microns)
Density (follicles per mm2)
The top testing Huacaya males and females are now measuring over 60 follicles per square millimetre for fibre density and over 0.40 millimetres per day for fibre length.
Primary fibre diameter, secondary fibre diameter (and the respective diameter distributions), follicle density and fibre length are measured on horizontal skin sections prepared from midside skin samples. Fibre length is measured on the overlying fleece sample.
The breeding goals for Huacaya herdsires are to increase density to greater than 85 follicles per square millimetre, mean primary fibre diameter to less than 17 microns, mean secondary fibre diameter to less than 20 microns and fibre length to greater than 0.60 millimetres per day. Huacaya sires Examples of the Huacaya herdsires being used are shown in following 5 images.
These measurements are made for the final selection of herdsires and embryo transfer donors. The minimum age for testing is two years. Figure 9 shows magnified views of horizontal skin sections viewed under the microscope from a high density alpaca (left) and an average density alpaca (right). The high density alpaca has 73 follicles per square millimetre, a mean primary fibre diameter of 28.9 microns and a mean secondary fibre diameter of 19.9 microns. The average density alpaca has 35 follicles per square millimetre, a mean primary fibre diameter of 39.6 microns and a mean secondary fibre diameter of 26.3 microns.
The 6 year old Huacaya male (above) has a density of 73.2 follicles per square millimetre and a fibre length of 0.37 millimetres per day (equivalent to a fleece length of about 110 millimetres per year). The primary fibres averaged 28.9 microns and the secondary fibres, 19.9 microns. It produced a 6.6 kg fleece testing 24.4 microns.
The Huacaya male (left), photographed at 14 months of age, had a density of 52.8 follicles per square millimetre and a fibre length of 0.43 millimetres per day at 2 years of age. The primary fibres averaged 27.8 microns and the secondary fibres 20.4 microns. Annual fleece weights and fibre diameters have been impressive: 4.5 kg of 19.5 microns at 21 months of age; 4.2 kgs of 20.7 micron at 33 months of age; and 4.2 kg of 22.0 micron at 45 months of age. The 3 year old Huacaya male (above) has a density of 63.9 follicles per square millimetre and a fibre length of 0.38 millimetres per day. The primary fibres average 27.7 microns and the secondary fibres 20.1 microns. Annual shearing at 30 months of age yielded a skirted fleece of 3.5 kg of 19.2 microns.
Embryo transfer donors The testing technology has allowed alpaca females to be chosen as embryo transfer donors which have excellent measurements for primary fibre diameter, secondary fibre diameter and fibre density. Some of these females also have high fibre length. Examples are listed in Table 4.
Table 4. Follicle and fibre traits of embryo transfer donors Primary fibre diameter (microns)
Secondary fibre diameter (microns)
Fibre density (follicles/ mm2)
Fibre length (mm/day)
New generation Suris We have recently identified Suri herdsires with excellent measurements. Examples are shown in Table 5 below. Primary fibre diameter (microns)
Secondary fibre diameter (microns)
Fibre density (follicles/ mm2)
Fibre length (mm/day)
The Suris with high density and length have closely packed fibre bundles, most easily seen at skin level, and which grow into long and thin staples that are almost non-coiling.
In both cases, the fibres are highly aligned, uniform in diameter and length, and form crimp waves of high amplitude and low frequency. The cuticular scales are long and smooth. The fibres are cylindrically shaped and have a bilateral arrangement of orthocortex and paracortex within the substance of the fibre. Merino wools of low crimp frequency and high crimp amplitude make tops of 8mm to 16mm longer Hauteur, with approximately half the noil and card waste of wools of finer and less defined crimp (Stevens, 1994; Stevens and Crowe 1994). These effects are separative and additive. Longer Hauteur tops spin more efficiently and produce yarns that are more even and break less often (Yang,1993; Lamb and Yang,1996). Fabrics produced from low crimp frequency superfine Merino wool are thinner, more compressible (softer), lighter and more permeable and have greater spirality, and less pilling, compared with fabrics produced from high crimp frequency superfine wools (McGregor and Postle 2002, 2006).The physical properties of low crimp frequency superfine wool fabrics are closer to the properties of pure cashmere fabrics than are knitted fabrics made from high crimp frequency superfine wool (McGregor and Postle 2008).
Textile results As a result of SRS速 selection, the fleeces produced by Huacaya alpacas and Merino sheep have a striking resemblance.
Worsted processing trials conducted from 1997-2002, by Itochu Wool Limited, show that SRS速 Merino wool processes exceptionally well during topmaking, spinning, and weaving. In all, 16 trials were carried out in Italy, Japan, Thailand, India, and Australia, covering Merino wools ranging from 17.3 to 20.7 microns. In each trial, SRS速 wool was compared with traditionally bred Merino wool of high quality. The raw wools were matched carefully for fibre diameter, wool length, staple strength, position of break and vegetable matter content. The topmaking advantages of SRS速 wool in these trials are summarized in Table 4.
Table 4.Topmaking advantages of SRS® wool versus traditionally bred wools of high quality.
Number of trials
Fibre diameter (microns)
17.3 – 17.9
18.7 – 20.7
18.2 – 18.7
4% - 9%
Short fibre advantage
12% - 25%
21% - 35%
7% - 13%
0% - 25%
In these trials, SRS® wools produced consistently longer Hauteur, less short fibre, and less noil. The SRS® yarns were soft and silky, exceptionally strong and had very good elasticity. Yarn breakages during spinning were reduced by 20% to 30%. The SRS® fabrics were described as feeling more like cashmere than a traditional wool fabric with excellent draping qualities, a natural ability to stretch, less creasing, and a deep rich appearance after dyeing, particularly with pastel colours. My goals for UK and Europe Ÿ offer SRS® breeding services to alpaca breeders Ÿ appoint local breeding advisors to deliver these services Ÿ identify and publicise herdsires that excel for SRS® fleece and body traits References
National Alpaca Week Tall, Smart & Handsome Media Returns
National Alpaca Week 2013 has shown us that it is quite possible every Australian alpaca has a media story in them, and an owner who is happy to help tell it. NAW publicists green, green grass communications say dynamic teamwork and some great story telling from AAA members was key to creating a national publicity campaign reaching over 8.9 million people in May this year. “We were overwhelmed by the response from members who gave their time to us in so many ways and led us into the very beautiful world of alpacas,” said ggg’s Karen Davies. In the creation of the NAW 2013 campaign, AAA General Manager Joy Walker said it was important to field stories in all genres to suit a wide range of media and reach diverse target audiences. “We briefed ggg partners Karen Davies & Tracy Bell to generate renewed regard and excitement for our animals and our industry in all quarters,” said AAA General Manager Joy Walker. “It was time to up the ante for the Australian Alpaca”. Working to this brief, green, green grass communications created a campaign strategy that provided a selection of carefully honed messages to tell as many people as possible how unique the Australian Alpaca is. “As there is not just one profile of an alpaca owner we set out to explore all the reasons there are to have a few oe a few thousand of the tall, smart and handsome creatures” Ms Davies said. AAA now reports the key messages in the “Tall Smart & Handsome” campaign were developed to deliver media values of almost $2million, and have educated Australians about our special animals through a variety of lighthearted & businessfocused stories. To appeal to the media most effectively, green, green grass communications said the stories had to be presented from the source.“It was fantastic to have so much support from individual members helping to enliven and illustrate key media messages,” said Tracy Bell. “Stories abounded from everywhere, and often in the most unexpected ways.” “The media were entranced by our alpacas and the wonderful people who care for them and we owe a very special thank you to all those who generously participated in the campaign. Appearing in a media story may seem glamorous, but of course it makes demands on your time and throws out challenges to be well organised in your thoughts and facts. The NAW 2013 campaign was designed to tell stories to benefit the entire industry and will continue adding value long into the future, particularly with so much staying online for repeated access,” said Karen Davies.
“Alpacas are truly wonderful creatures with an exciting place in Australia’s agricultural future,” said the ggg team. “We feel so honoured to have been entrusted with helping to develop their future here. More people are talking about alpacas, more in the media are thinking about them, and happily, there is now one breakfast television crew pulling on alpaca mittens every chilly morning, which reminds them of their adventure in NAW 2013, and no doubt telling people about it.” Campaign Highlights Story reports are still coming in, but here are some of the campaign highlights to date: Ÿ The Australian Newspaper reported EP Cambridge’s recent $175k sale of Invictus, inspiration to many that such returns are possible in Australia’s emerging industry with its focus on quality. Ÿ Channel Nine’s Today Show broadcast its entire weekend weather live from Coolaroo Stud in Mittagong NSW. Over 20 minutes of national television allowed plenty of opportunity to delight and educate a large audience about alpacas.
Ÿ Sophie Jackson enchanted Sunrise viewers on Channel Seven with her 800 animals, in a segment that focused on farming appeal and breeder affection for the alpaca. Ÿ Natural media stars were born, with members such as Esther Sanders, Sarah Wheeler & Jayne Miller presenting fantastic warm and informative interviews around the nation on selected radio stations, often proudly assisted by beautiful newborn cria Ÿ Queensland Newspapers’ rural editor Alice Gorman had never reported on Alpacas before, and was inspired to present a high value full page in the Brisbane Sunday Mail on the animals and their industry. Her “Ask a Farmer” page will have educated almost a million readers about alpacas. Ÿ In a very special and rare media moment, Richard Fidler featured the story of Janie Hicks bringing the first alpacas to NSW in a long format, 30-minute interview on ABC radio around Australia. Broadcast on many of the highest rating stations around the country, the segment reached more than 1 million listeners and is still being continually accessed online by ardent Fidler fans.
Under Tension By Ian Ritchie Courtesy of Town & Country Farmer
Have you been feeling the strain lately? Are you stretched to the limit? I know I have been … fixing fences. Seems to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time mending the things. Horses lean on them, sheep push through, but mainly trees fall over them. Long runs of fences are the easiest in my experience, tensionwise. That is, as they are long they are most receptive to being strained up, whereas short and very short fences can really be a pain, especially if the wire is severed. However there are many options. The common and trusty chaintype wire strainers will be familiar to many and besides still being the best for straining up long fences it’s not unheard of to hear of them being used to unbog a car (although I’ve never done it). A relatively recent wire straining invention is the Gripple tensioner and joiner which is a trade name of course but which generally covers a range of manufacturers’ products with Waratah holding the licence for the genuine products in Australia. Gripples have wire fed through them from either direction and a Gripple tool is used to tension the wire. Gripples are excellent for fast fixes and particularly good when messing around with short fences however they have been reported to slip under extreme load.
In some cases this is not necessarily a bad thing. Recently I repaired a fence that had suffered tree damage and, as the original fence builder had left a good ‘tail’ hanging through, it was simple matter of using the Gripple tool to strain it up again. Fastest fix ever. Gripples can also be used to join wire, but again they are best on shortish fences in my opinion. A long run of fence may have too much tension and here it’s almost as easy probably just to knot the wire if you’re just looking to join it. Knotting wire is a tad old-fashioned but a highly effective method of joining wire and the accompanying photographs demonstrate how to do it. Properly done knots will rarely fail and can withstand immense strain.
Steps to tying a knot A picture is worth a thousand words - simply study the photographs and you will see that what we are creating is two loops that slide back towards each tightening under tension. When you get the idea that this is an over-under-over-under-over operation it’s really quite simple. Can also be used on barbed wire but first remove one or two barbs to give yourself something to work with.
I must state here that I am not a fencing contractor (obviously, I hear you say) and we’re dealing with fixes rather than construction here. In fact I’m somewhat in awe of the abilities and expertise of the professionals. If you do not have chain-type wire strainers or a Gripple tool there are also many propriety products available to strain wire up that can be very effective, particularly on short fences. These come in several shapes and sizes, fit-and-twist, ratcheting, spools. Generally these are easy to fit and a simple tool that’s probably already in your toolbox can be used to tension them. My main gripe is that they’re ugly. Some are adjustable, some are single use.
5 You could join the wire using any of the products pictured - a Gripple, a swaged Hayes crimp joiner (requires a swaging tool), a Gallagher spiral or a simply tie a knot. Incidentally, those swaged joiners and the spirals, Bob informs me, are popular in situations such a vineyards where ‘tails’ of wire are not wanted as they can snag people and machinery alike. Also, if you are using a lot, they may prove to be somewhat cheaper. It is possible to buy little plastic clips to hold tails out of the way as well.
There are also tools such as the ‘easy2use’ shown that grips the wire at the post and uses leverage off the post to pull it taught, but of course you need to be at the post in this case. Usually if I am at the post doing repairs I use the inside grips of 12 inch fencing pliers and lever the wire around with that, trapping the wire with a staple. OK for short fences; not enough tension for long ones but the tool shown would obviously produce a lot more tension than my pliers. Note that trapping the wire with a staple is not ideal as it may lead to a weak point. Down at Exel in Lilydale where they generously let me take most of the photos, Bob was full of tips and hints. For instance, very long fences might be best strained from the middle. Take a piece of electrical tape, grip the end and stretch it off the roll and observe what happens? It does not stretch evenly, ever. There is a train of thought that the same applies to wire and straining from the middle evens out the tension somewhat. Also, straining wire away from the post means you are working in ‘free’ space, away from the aggravations associated with working at a strainer post.
Pictured below are my basics for fencing, Hayes strainer, 12 inch pliers, 8 inch nippers, a hammer and two things I never go without – Vice Grip locking pliers and a wire ‘key’ which is simply a piece of 4mm thick steel with a hole drilled in it that is used for winding wire around wire.
If you are fitting, say, one of those ratcheting type strainers, then once you have looped the wire through the hole, grip the wire/s with Vice Grips, slide the key over the tail and wind it around. Used together they can make life so much easier. Why struggle when you’re straining?
The only other thing required for the basics of fence mending are netting or ring clip pliers. Best thing since sliced bread, way better than cutting bits of wire, threading and twisting. I just carry the basic small pair whereas a contractor would probably use one of the larger units with a magazine, either way an indispensable item. Ÿ Chain-type strainers about $90 Ÿ Gripple tool $160-$250 depending on type Ÿ Large gripples around $4 each, medium around $3 (less for bulk)
Ÿ Gallagher Spirals $38.50 for 25 ($1.54 ea) Ÿ Hayes crimp sleeves about $1 each (swaging tool $75 to $135) Ÿ Various proprietary tensioners $4 to $7 depending on type Ÿ Fencing pliers $25 to $80 Ÿ Vice Grips locking pliers $35 Ÿ Nippers or small bolt cutters $35 to $100 Ÿ Wire key - 5 minutes in the workshop Ÿ Tying a knot – practice makes perfect
For Sale: Alpaca showing pen/tent for all weather conditions. Easy to erect & dismantle & made from steel tube & mesh.
Over 400 alpacas for sale, all colours, Huacaya and Suri excellent genetics
White PVC roofing with detachable sides. Four panels 2.250 x 1.100 mts plus PVC covering $ 950. For more details contact: Peter Cook. Victoria.Eastern region. firstname.lastname@example.org 03 51222465 or 0411808080.
MONTEAGLE RETIREMENT SALE Expressions of Interest.Very Reasonable reserves. Supreme/Multi Champs/Winners. Placings/Fl. tests avail. Layered top genes inc JWarrior,WVIceman&FireDragon Girls inc: Boquet, WeddingBelle, Knit1, YBDoll, Auzalia, RosaEx, ApricotP, WeddingVeil,TheBridesmaid, SugarC. Boys:Dragonâ€™sBreath, Aquila, LordCardigan (Guar.Cert) Ring to inspect, result of 15 yrs selective quality breeding! Janice Ward, Young, NSW. Ph O2 63826770.
This Issue’s Winner
‘ Wondering if he will spit back?’ Russell Hayes - Santa Fe Alpacas VIC
y friend?‘ ‘ Will you be m C ton Alpacas VI er iv ory - Ch Daphne Greg
these!‘ ‘ I’ll grow into LD rk Alpacas Q Pa a rr - Palta Esme Graham
‘ The Aunts ‘ Julienne Gelber - Bumble Hill Alpacas NSW
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