Alpaca British Alpaca Society bi-monthly magazine
ISSUE 84 | YEARBOOK 2021
British Alpaca Society The ﬁbre breed
ALPACAS OF CORNWALL, The Crewenna Herd
Where genetics matter! Having reached our goal, our journey is just starting …
BAS NATIONAL CHAMPION OF CHAMPION BLACK FLEECE 2020 – SILVERSTREAM NIGHT FEVER OF CREWENNA BAS NATIONAL CHAMPION AND RESERVE CHAMPION BLACK FLEECE 2018 – CREWENNA BVLGARI BAS NATIONAL BLACK MALE CHAMPION 2017 – CREWENNA AMADEUS
Carn Tremayne Farm, Praze, Cornwall TR14 9PG Mob: 0044 7870 612559 www.alpacasofcornwall.co.uk
Alpaca www.bas-uk.com THE BRITISH ALPACA SOCIETY c/o Grassroots Systems Ltd, PO Box 251, Exeter EX2 8WX. Tel (within UK): 0845 3312468 Tel (Overseas): +44(0)1392 437788 Fax: +44(0)1392 437788 Email: email@example.com BAS CHIEF EXECUTIVE Dr Duncan Pullar Tel: 07496 578781 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Alpaca Society 10 Meeting welfare needs
British alpaca should be valued as one of the world’s most sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical and luxurious fibres.
34 Creating a cottage industry
EDITORIAL Editor: Liz Mason email@example.com Studio Manager: Jo Legg firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISEMENT SALES Wendy King 01233 555735 email@example.com
30 Supporting British fibre
12 A celebration of Suri
Learning to make handcrafted items from fleece that can often be left stored in sheds can bring unexpected rewards.
ADVERTISEMENT PRODUCTION Tandem Media Ltd Ad Production Manager: Andy Welch Alpaca@tandemmedia.co.uk 01233 220245 KELSEY MEDIA The Granary, Downs Court Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL 01959 541444 MANAGEMENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Steve Wright CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Phil Weeden MANAGING DIRECTOR: Kevin McCormick PUBLISHER: Jamie McGrorty RETAIL DIRECTOR: Steve Brown RENEWALS AND PROJECTS MANAGER: Andy Cotton SENIOR SUBSCRIPTION MARKETING MANAGER: Nick McIntosh SUBSCRIPTION MARKETING DIRECTOR: Gill Lambert SUBSCRIPTION MARKETING MANAGER: Kate Chamberlain PRINT PRODUCTION MANAGER: Georgina Harris PRINT PRODUCTION CONTROLLER: Kelly Orriss
18 Living lightly
Bridget Tibbs, Cotswold Alpacas, explains how alpacas fit perfectly with a sustainable lifestyle that is creative, climate friendly and works in harmony with the land.
Textile designer Magdalena Sobula shares her passion for alpaca yarns.
44 Breeding by design 22 Boys pay their way Visitors to Wreay Syke Alpacas learn how Jane and Paul Colman started keeping alpacas almost by accident after a successful auction bid for a field.
26 Woolly Army with a mission
“There really is nothing quite so delightful as watching an alpaca take a bath in a lake, it should be recommended as a cure for all cases of melancholy and world weariness.”
BAS board member Ken Freivokh tells us how he came to build an outstanding championship winning herd.
46 Why show? Part one
52 Junior handlers
Winners of the photography competition.
54 The show must go on!
BAS judge Roger Clarke encourages us to take the plunge into the wonderful world of fleece showing.
60 Understanding objective fleece data 64 Starting out
Am I right for alpacas and how do I buy the right ones for me? Asking the right questions is essential.
The essential questions you need to ask.
70 Alpacas lead the way
Clara Boulton shares her alpaca journey which has seen her turn passion for alpacas into a trekking business.
BAS judge Mary-Jo Smith, Bozedown Alpacas, offers an insight into the world of showing and it’s not all about winning!
48 Alpaca people
Shirley Bettinson shares some of her alpaca career memories and highlights.
For the alpaca community shows are a shop window where owners can meet, have fun and learn.
68 Buying your first alpacas
Distribution in Great Britain: Marketforce (UK) 3rd Floor, 161 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9AP Tel: 020 3148 5000
40 'Brightening my days'
50 Why show? Part two
74 Buying healthy alpacas 76 BAS training and education 78 Registration is what you need
Cover photo: Spring Farm Alpacas
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
THE BRITISH ALPACA SOCIETY
Dedicated to the welfare of alpacas and the education of their owners in the UK.
The British Alpaca Society supports a national network of regional alpaca groups who meet on a regular basis to share experiences and knowledge, organise events and talk about the alpaca. The autonomous groups provide an invaluable forum for sharing expertise through workshops, lectures at shows and related alpaca events, with the emphasis on self-help, accessibility and local initiative. Whether you are an owner, a prospective owner, or just interested in these fascinating animals, your regional group will always make you welcome.
The BAS provides its membership with an informative bi-monthly magazine dealing with all aspects of alpaca ownership. The editorial content is applicable to the aspirant, beginner and established breeder within the UK and Europe. The BAS also provides its members with regular electronic information updates.
Education and training
The BAS, through its regional representatives on the national Education Committee, provides members with a range of educational courses on alpaca assessment, advanced alpaca assessment, alpaca fibre and processing for breeders. Through its comprehensive BAS judge training scheme, it provides the UK industry with certified qualified judges to support the show circuits and through its training and Recertification programme, it maintains the standard and consistency of alpaca judging in the UK. Its National Fibre Committee provides members with information on shearing, skirting, sorting and processing alpaca fibre, keeping them up to date with all developments within the alpaca fibre marketplace.
The BAS is dedicated to the welfare of alpacas. It facilitates training and education dvd’s and documents to aid husbandry and care of alpacas and is involved in all facets of government liaison regarding disease monitoring and exports. The BAS have emergency contacts for welfare issues and support members who have husbandry related questions or need help.
The BAS’ national Show Committee supports a programme of BAS accredited halter and fleece shows throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles. Not only do these shows provide a showcase and learning experience for the general public, they also play a major part in educating and informing alpaca breeders throughout the UK.
Membership fees Single membership – £74 per annum Joint membership – £95 per annum Herd registration fee – £25
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
FEBRUARY YEARBOOK 2020 2020
British Alpaca Society The fibre breed
The BAS website is a one stop educational resource containing detailed information on the alpaca, the membership and the Society. The BAS also has its own Facebook page which it uses to keep members updated on news and the latest information on events and shows.
he British Alpaca Society (BAS) currently has 1,500 members representing almost 35,000 alpacas spread in various densities all the way from Lands End to John O’Groats. As well as providing information and support to its members, one of the organisation’s most important functions is maintaining a pedigree registry for all alpacas in the UK national herd and a European directory for all BAS registered alpacas domiciled in Europe. The alpaca industry is at an exciting stage of development and the BAS is working hard to support its members in their initiatives – both in the UK and Europe. By joining the Society you become part of a national community, dedicated to all things alpaca. Membership offers knowledge, networking and support to help you protect your investment and work towards your own alpaca aspiration.
Alpaca Everything you need to know a bout alpacas
FROM THE EDITOR W T: 01959 541444 E: firstname.lastname@example.org @BritishAlpacaMagazine
elcome to the BAS Alpaca Yearbook 2021 and the world of alpacas. If you are thinking of becoming an owner, or are just starting your alpaca journey, we include valuable advice from experienced owners and breeders, as well as a contribution from Westpoint Farm Vets, on how to go about buying your first alpacas and how to ensure they remain happy, healthy animals. Deciding what you want from your alpacas is a key first step in the journey. There are, as our contributors show, many different routes you can follow as an owner. Perhaps like BAS board member Clara Boulton and her partner Shaun Lock (Natterjack Alpacas) you start just as a breeder but then also find yourself setting up a full time trekking or walking business. At Alpacaly Ever After, former soldier Terry Barlow and author Emma Smalley have seen their social enterprise grow with a huge social media following for their rescued ‘Woolly Army’ and a number one TripAdvisor rating for activities in the Lake District. Maybe the showring attracts you and you aim to produce a herd of show winning champions or perhaps you haven’t even thought of entering a show?
am sure that your 2020 did not turn out the way you expected, writes Duncan Pullar. My 2020 certainly did not. At the start of the year the BAS National Show in Telford was front and centre with preparations in full swing. Through February and March, the scale of the problems ahead became clear and with the first lockdown the 2020 National Show was cancelled - as it turned out the whole halter show season was lost. What we did not realise early in the year was that the shows deliver so many benefits to alpaca owners beyond an independent assessment of alpacas by a qualified judge. The social element that comes from attending shows as an exhibitor, organiser or observer are really important. So many friendships are renewed and strengthened at shows and events without too much conscious effort. In the alpaca world the use of social media and video calls has bridged some of
Take a look at our feature from BAS judge Mary-Jo Smith (Bozedown Alpacas) for some sound reasons for entering the showring. Mary-Jo’s feature underlines why we all missed show outings last year – let’s hope 2021 sees our shows make a welcome return. We also include a feature from BAS judge Roger Clarke (Amberly Alpacas) who takes us through the fleece judging process. Knowing more about what the judge is looking for why not have a go next time and get some expert feedback on that fleece you think may be a good one? If creativity is more your line we show what can be achieved with alpaca fibre. At Burnt Fen Alpacas, Annie Nickerson uses her own fibre to pursue her passion for handspinning and weaving. Textile designer Magdalena Sobula tells us how she found quality yarn for her designs after a visit to Emma Taylor, co-owner at East Anglia Alpaca Mill, and Emma tells us what she needs from owners and shearers to produce the quality yarns required for top quality British alpaca products. Finally, we include exciting news of a new BAS initiative for 2021 – National Alpaca Farm Day. This is a great opportunity to meet the public, showcase the fascinating world of alpacas and promote your business; we will look forward to including more on this in future issues.
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
the “sociability-gap”, experienced from not being able to gather together (as it has for many). Many BAS regional groups have put on webinars for their members which are informative and sociable. The video call approach has thrown up some interesting observations. I noticed that some regional meetings gathered international delegates which was great and added to the discussion. Many members I have spoken to have found that looking after alpacas has been a very important part of getting through the lockdowns. The rhythm of daily husbandry has offered a solid foundation in a world that has changed so much. Working with and interacting with animals is very grounding for many which is why so many people seek out the opportunity. As I write this the prospects for 2021 are looking more optimistic with Covid-19 vaccinations rolling out. I am looking forward to a more predictable year and I hope you all enjoy your alpacas in the year ahead.
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Being an Alpaca breeder the welfare of our animals is paramount so the pods are designed and manufactured by ourselves taking this into account. We designed the Alpaca pods for our own herd and are now pleased to offer these for sale. UK Design Numbers 6031339, 6031340, 6031342
email@example.com Sandhills Alpacas, Sandhills Farm Cottage, Ness Lane, Tockwith YO26 7QL
Don Julio Barreda and his world famous Accoyo herd from Macusani
Peru are synonymous with elite alpacas that have dense ďŹ‚eeces, prepotent genetics and superior stature. The Accoyo legacy lives on at Amberley Farm, where careful implementation of sound breeding practices and attention to detail are at the heart of this unique herd of elite quality white huacayas. Please get in touch for more information on how our alpacas offer a lifetime Tim Hey of selective breeding. We look forward to hearing from you.
accoyo-europe.com Tel/WhatsApp: +44 (0)7875532827 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALPACA FARM DAY The BAS is launching the first UK National Alpaca Farm day to encourage anyone and everyone to come and meet an alpaca.
he aim is to have dozens of alpaca herds open to the public on the same day supported by a central promotional campaign in the weeks leading up to the event on 4 September 2021. Events on any day over that weekend will qualify for promotional support. For BAS members that already open to the public National Alpaca Farm Day is a chance to boost awareness and for others it could be a first venture in promoting the animals that BAS members are so passionate about. The plan is for all interested BAS members to register their event with BAS and have it listed on the BAS website to allow members of the public to find a local event. The size and type of event is up to BAS members to decide; it can be simple or “all singing and dancing”. It depends on what you can manage.
The size or scale of the event is entirely down to you but there are some important points to think about before going ahead. • Small – A private event for neighbours, friends or local interest groups with limited numbers and open for a couple of hours. • Medium – Covering your village or local area and contacting local schools to invite children and their families. Tours could take place at set times and you could open for four or five hours. • Large – Have a number of separate attractions to interest visitors and open for the whole day.
It is also important to plan before the day and cover the following areas: • Safety – For all events you need to think about car parking, public liability insurance, a health and safety risk assessment, health and safety
instructions, adequate toilets and handwashing facilities. Is there disabled access, do you allow dogs, is smoking allowed? Access – Have a “Welcome area” where you can brief visitors on the correct procedures. Make a choice about what is “in” and what is “out”. Obviously keep visitors away from any areas of danger. Think about the flow of people around your event make it easy for visitors to follow the right route. Signage – Put signs out around your local road to bring people into your event. If you have narrow lanes it might be worth having a one-way system that avoids congestion. Free standing signs on a post are fine but don’t attach your signs to the councils “street furniture”. Helpers – Make sure you have enough trusted helpers to run the day. Depending on the size you might need car park attendants, welcomers, handwashing supervisors as well as people to talk about the animals you have or the products you make from alpaca fibre. Weather – If it rains do you go ahead? If so, how will your plans change.
BAS will work on national and regional promotion in TV and radio. BAS will provide electronic templates for flyers, fact sheets and invitations. All participating members can add their own materials to the standard mix. Support material from BAS will be free to participating herds. BAS will have a dedicated page on the website to the events which can carry all the information (including links to a participant’s website) for each event that the organisers want to share.
Register your interest
This event is free to all BAS members. If you would like to be part of the BAS UK National Alpaca Farm Day email BAS CEO Duncan Pullar at email@example.com
2019 event at J.P. Acres in Lincoln, Nebraska
Pictures from National Farm Days 2020 in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska
US National Alpaca Farm Days n the US, owners will celebrate their 15th annual National Alpaca Farm Days in 2021. Organised by the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA) from 25-26 September the weekend will see owners throughout North America
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
welcome the public to experience alpacas up close, feel the fleece and tour the farms. Live demonstrations and shopping add to the fun filled family day. Pictures from National Farm Days 2020 at Alpacas of the Heartland, LLC in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska courtesy of AOA.
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
MEETING WELFARE NEEDS
Alpaca welfare is an enormous field and there is a great deal of information available, writes Vicki Agar, Spring Farm Alpacas.
› Vicki Agar 10 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
n this article, I intend to highlight some of the specifics and a little about the legislation that exists to ensure best practice. I will then go on to show what bringing all of these together can achieve when handling and managing alpacas. Essentially, we need to keep our alpacas healthy by feeding them a diet involving mainly forage, providing them with space, sufficient grazing and shelter. They need clean fresh water available to them daily. We also need to understand them as animals sufficiently to allow them to display normal behaviours. This means catering for their emotional as well as their physical needs. A lengthy camelid specific document already exists on the British Alpaca Society (BAS) website in the members area. It is in the welfare section under welfare guides and factsheets in pdf format and is entitled ‘Welfare Guide – Alpacas and Llamas 2015’. It is an excellent way of understanding the requirements of alpacas and llamas and best practices for undertaking their care. In more legislative terms, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 introduced new concepts in law for owners of pets through to working and farm animals. Section 9 of the Act legally obliges the owner, or person responsible for looking after them, for that animal’s welfare. The Act itself was distilled from numerous areas of study, originating from the British parliamentary enquiry in the 1960’s which looked into the welfare of animals in intensive livestock production. That duty of care can be achieved by providing: • A suitable environment with appropriate shelter for herd animals like camelids • A suitable diet including grass and hay and freedom from hunger and thirst • Allowing alpacas to exhibit normal behaviour patterns • A life free from fear and distress • Protecting all herd members from pain, suffering, anxiety and disease. In our experience, alpacas are not difficult animals to care for. First time owners will need a secure and sufficiently sized area of safely fenced grazing with a fresh water supply. The size of this area can vary dependent on where you are living in the country because of rainfall and soil type. A shelter and a few hurdles for penning are in my view essential. The penning is required because handling shouldn’t be undertaken in a field shelter (or rest area) as it will tend to make alpacas avoid these areas. Bedding in field shelters isn’t generally required as it will make alpacas view their accommodation as a toilet area. For us, the “pièce de la resistance” (because we live in an area with heavy clay soil) will always be having some area paved or concreted – even if it’s just the handling pen. That way, routine alpaca husbandry can be carried out without the alpaca or its handler slipping. Having an area that allows their feet to dry out, especially in muddy wet winters or poor soil types, is also a good idea. Those owners who increase or grow their alpaca numbers, tend to evolve their facilities to make handling easier when some form of husbandry needs to be done. So, for a prospective owner or small existing herd, the facilities do not need to be hugely expensive. By providing for your alpacas to ensure they
remain healthy and well managed you will make your lives and enjoyment of your alpacas so much better.
Absolutely key to your enjoyment of the experience of owning alpacas (and theirs) is learning some kind and respectful handling skills. Being patient with your alpacas will pay huge dividends. Learn how to show them what you want from them – and ask them to do it without rushing them. If you are being shown how to corner an alpaca, then grab it to catch it – then it might be time to book yourself on a handling course with someone who can show you a better way. We purchased our first small group of alpacas which had been imported from Peru in 2000. After two years of struggling to handle them in an enjoyable way, I attended several Camelidynamics courses. What I learned then had a profound effect on me and the way I handled our alpacas. Eighteen years on, we now have 110 alpacas (and seven llamas). All of our yearling and adult alpacas and llamas are halter trained and easy to handle. They are comfortable in the routines we follow every day. We treat every single alpaca or llama on the farm as an individual. What we now know, having added a further 20 years of alpaca ownership experience, allows us to run bespoke handling courses very regularly (rather than large groups). We can tailor the day to suit individual needs whether for either the experienced or inexperienced alpaca owner – or prospective owner. I believe our alpacas are all healthier for the way we manage them using kindness and patience. I am certain that we have fewer health and birthing issues as a result of owning less stressed individuals. As in humans, stress can play a detrimental role in the health and wellbeing of your herd.
› Commandante with Photizo › Commandante being manipulated
Commandante with vibro massage ball
Extra care – two case studies
By employing these various handling techniques and calm feeding routines, alpacas can be extraordinary patients when some form of additional nursing or care is required. They are relatively long lived but can need some extra help in their later life. Here are some examples of instances where we give extra care. Commandante is a 14 year old Huacaya stud male whose genetics are of great value to us. Earlier in 2020, he developed a problem with the alignment of his neck. The pictures right are of Commandante on 31 August 2020 and 2 December 2020. He is on a programme of osteopathic and acupuncture treatments. The pictures are of the specialist treatment. The pictures show him having acupuncture and is him being manipulated. Sadly, the correct alignment didn’t last long and in between practitioner visits our daily treatments involve using a Photonic light (Photizo) to increase blood supply and reduce inflammation. We also use a vibrating massage ball along his spine, neck and shoulder blades in the positions that the acupuncture needles are used. We have videos on our website that show how much he enjoys these treatments. He doesn’t even need to be held during the treatments. Aslan is another important stud male to us, son of the world renowned Macgyver. He is 15 years old now and still highly relevant within the breeding industry. A vet commented recently that he had plaque on his teeth which should be cleaned each day. This has turned out to be surprisingly easy as he likes the minty taste of the animal specific toothpaste. I have included these two examples to show that when alpacas are handled in a respectful way that works with them – not dominating them – then challenging husbandry can be accomplished more easily. Neither of these two males were born here at Spring Farm Alpacas, so they haven’t lived their whole lives with our patient and effective handling techniques, although Commandante has always been a calm male to handle. At the end of the day, we should all be enjoying owning our alpacas. For those alpacas who are nervous and reactive, you, as their owner, can almost certainly learn new ways so that both you and your alpacas can enjoy your lives together. Why not have a look at some of our videos which show our alpacas being handled and, where necessary, medicated.
› Commandante having acupuncture
Commandante with misaligned neck on 31 August 2020
› Aslan having teeth cleaned
Commandante on 2 December 2020
A CELEBRATION OF SURI
Suri alpacas fascinate me. I am not obsessed, honestly! But they are very different to the far more numerous Huacaya, writes Jay Holland, Pure Alpacas.
Photos: Spring Farm Alpacas
o truly understand Suri one must live with them, breed them, and get into their psyche and even then, you basically just have to “get them” intuitively. Regrettably, not everyone does. When we started in 2004 with Huacaya, we had absolutely no intent of keeping Suri but, shall we just say, were presented with a surprise Suri from a purchased pregnant Huacaya and a diverse journey began. We currently run a herd of around 100 alpacas which is roughly equally split between the two and in various colours. Personally I do have a penchant for grey Suri perhaps because they provide a challenge in their breeding through a limited gene pool let alone the recessive colour gene. So, after thinking how to write a “Celebration of Suri” I decided to start at the beginning.
It is believed that alpacas were domesticated some 6000 years ago in South America, as can be evidenced by cave art. Through modern gene technology we now know that their ancestors were the wild Vicuna. Alpacas have never been
12 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
wild animals they have been specifically bred by man from the beginning. What we do not know is what these first alpaca looked like. The art, including cave art around 6,000 years old, suggests they looked like the Vicuna, that is similar to the Huacaya. So, where did the Suri come from? Is there an unknown ancestor? Was it from natural mutation which would mean Suri is a recessive gene? We know that the genome of the first alpaca is very similar to both Suri and Huacaya. Initially, a brief study suggested that there was only a single gene difference between the two but scientists now agree that there are too many phenotypical differences for a single gene to be responsible. We have no idea where Suri and Huacaya diverged. The Suri is a lowland animal; its fleece is not suited to the cooler temperatures of the high Andes and, it would make sense, given that alpacas were developed in the lowlands by the changing hunter gatherer tribes. Interestingly, if the Suri gene is recessive then why, with a union of a Suri to Huacaya, will a homozygous (pure) Suri produce Suri and the offspring, mated to Suri produce Suri? Yet, if heterozygous (impure) then Huacaya can
also be born of the union that will, in turn, produce Suri or Huacaya. One could postulate that the Suri gene is therefore actually dominant, but even that is not true; it is far more likely that the Suri gene is simply suppressed in Huacaya.
Suri were revered by the Incan Empire, and yes, Huacaya were extremely important within their society but they were not revered. The scarcity of the Suri and their unique fibre made them coveted by Incan royalty and, as such, only Incan royalty were allowed to wear garments made from Suri. The lustre, shimmering in the sun, and the way the cloth literally flowed around the body made the garments appear as though the wearer were covered in liquid gold. As sun worshippers the Incan civilisation viewed gold as an incredibly important symbol of wealth and power and the Incan kings were considered Gods on earth. Suri were paraded at festivals as an embodiment of their Gods. Even now parades continue; such is the high regard for Suri. Within Peruvian herds, some are kept as Wasi, an unshorn Suri believed to be possessed of magical powers that brings good luck to the people. As Suri cloth was worn only by Gods, Suri were considered to be the favoured of the Gods and therefore there can be little doubt that Suri is the true ‘Fibre of the Gods’. Limited use of Suri fibre, and its protected royal status in the Incan civilization, meant Suri herds were kept pure; they were corralled separately and selectively mated Suri to Suri, reinforcing and concentrating the genetics. Numbers were artificially constrained due to the small demand for their fibre. This limited the gene pool which in turn further concentrated the Suri gene. With the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532, millions of alpacas were slaughtered and many driven up into the highlands to make way for the grazing of cattle and sheep on the lowland plains. There are no records of the numbers of alpacas that existed then, let alone Suri or Huacaya separately, and we can only estimate the numbers. But, as a lowland animal, it was more Continued on the next page >>
Specialising in breeding coloured suri Breeding to maintain the suri breed...
• Quality, friendly alpacas for sale
• Mobile Stud Services and Drive-bys
• Alpaca business start-up and Herd Health Consultancy Services
• Advice for established and new breeders
Faraway Suri Alpacas Contact: Nikki Hayton Mobile: 07971 342975 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faraway Suri Alpacas Godshill near Fordingbridge Hampshire SP6 2LP
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
<< devastating for the already scarce Suri; not being built for the climate, mortality rates among adults and cria were high, reducing numbers further. The collapse of the Royal herds of Suri led to the inevitable inter-breeding with the far more numerous Huacaya and devastated the pure gene pool and yet, even now, those genes are still producing Suri. While we have no idea what the ratios were before 1532, today the world’s population of Suri total about 7-8% of alpaca. It is higher in the US, and about 6-7% in the UK and Australia but, if the figures are correct, numbers are currently reducing in Peru. The low percentage overall technically classifies Suri as a rare breed. Despite the continuing low percentage of Suri, their fibre is highly sought after because of its unique natural drape and, of course, the way it shimmers. Limited supply keeps the price high and relatively stable but this does mean that it is used almost entirely in the high end fashion world with jackets and coats being the main end product. Unfortunately, like the rest of the UK alpaca industry, we cannot collect enough to create a fibre bale for the international market and as a result we have been forced to become a little more entrepreneurial. With a fair amount of effort and a lot of trial and error we have sourced an outlet that, with a small amount of preparation and the right marketing, can achieve up to £985/kg for the right type of Suri fleece.
Photos: Spring Farm Alpacas
› Independence of lock
Fibre grows in separate lengths, known as cuticles, and Suri have one of the longest cuticles in any fibre producing animal giving it that beautifully smooth texture. Combined with the height differential in those cuticles (scale height) being the lowest of almost any fleeced animal, it gives Suri fibre that smooth, silky feel that reflects the light, the lustre that shimmers and comes through in the final products. For comparison, the scale height of a Huacaya is between 0.2 and 0.35 micron, the Suri is 0.08. In other fibres: sheep is 0.8-0.9 micron, cashmere is 0.3-0.45. Suri, is the lowest of these and so can be used where the feel or handle of the garment is important. Its scale height allows Suri to feel as much as 2 micron finer than its actual fineness which means a 24 micron Suri fleece will spin and feel as though it’s 22 micron. While early UK Suri were often quite coarse, advances in the Suri breeding programme have driven these accepted microns down to nearer Huacaya levels with many of our own Suri testing in the 17 micron range and the majority falling under 21 micron, even at advanced ages. Given that Suri grow, on average 20% more fibre than Huacaya; usually around 7-8 inches for Suri over 5-6 inches for Huacaya, and cut a greater weight, even annualised, they show a much greater return on investment than the Huacaya. Admittedly, Suri is more difficult to spin into yarn and is often combined with other natural fibres to assist in the twist of the fibres. It is far more suited to the worsted process of making yarn rather than the woollen process. Suri yarns are appearing in the market now that the processors have learnt the characteristics of Suri fibres but traditionally Suri has been far more suited to woven cloth. Main products are jackets and coats made in Italy and Japan, but Suri cloth has been used in many other items from pashminas through to wedding dresses and, at one point, lingerie.
Suri seem, unfairly, to have picked up a reputation as being difficult. This is not true they are simply different. The Huacaya weighs around 65-80 kg and is a fidgeter; when pressured the Huacaya moves around puts its tail toward you, sits down, gets up, sits down, will rear up as a last resort, and occasionally when scared, will wee itself. The Suri weighs around 70-110 kg; the reason is that difference in the fleece. The fibre lies flat to the body of the Suri and is not as insulating so Suri tend to shiver in colder climates, including most of Europe. Consequently, it is more muscular than the Huacaya, however it is stoic. Yes, there are always Continued on the next page >>
14 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
<< those that prove you wrong (another alpaca trait), but when pressured it stands still and does not fidget. But when pressured for too long adrenaline (the fright/flight hormone) causes the Suri to react in a more dramatic way. The most common reaction is to still sit and they are completely unmovable. However, they too will rear up, and where normally this is more controllable in the lighter Huacaya, the Suri is more muscular so that it can lift its handler off their feet or when on a lead deliberately land on its side. While this may sound bad it is not really a problem if you understand the Suri, its different physicality and reaction to the usual stressors. It looks dramatic but only because it can appear sudden in its nature and is more spontaneous than a fidgeting Huacaya. It is more to do with your behaviour around the Suri than the Suri itself; but this is also true of Huacaya. We have found them to be highly intelligent, more thoughtful about what you are doing, or trying to do, and very quick to pick up training and remember it throughout their lifetime. We walk our alpacas on farm, with visitors, and most of our team are Suri. During our farm tour the friendliest of our alpacas are Suri.
Photos: Spring Farm Alpacas
Photo: Pure Alpacas
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Much to celebrate?
We believe so, Suri are much underrated and after centuries they are still celebrated in Peru with Wasi being revered as possessing magical properties. They produce a more valuable fibre, with a higher cutting weight, and a more consistent price than Huacaya, giving owners a better return on their investment. The fibre is in demand from some high end fashion houses and yet, because of low numbers demand cannot be met and until it can be prices will remain buoyant. A Suri in a long fleece, running across the paddock with the sun on it must be one of the best sights any alpaca owner will see; it is truly breathtaking. They are characterful, nosey and are far more confident than their Huacaya cousins and we certainly have had far more entertainment from them. They are adaptable, they have had to be. The move from their natural environment to the higher slopes of the Andes and their intermingling with Huacaya have all threatened their existence but they have come through it all with their unique style and usual panache. So, for something a little different â€“ consider Suri!
Snowshill Alpacas Snowshill Hill Barn, Temple Guiting, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 5XX
Contact Roger Mount on 01386 853 841 or 07711044106 Email: email@example.com Web: www.snowhillalpacas.com
We have a large selection of potential Stud Males, Pet Males and Breeding Females available in a variety of colours. Stud Services â€“ we have several proven/championship winning Huacaya and Suri boys to choose from. Pre-arranged visits are very welcome. We adhere to good biosecurity practices and badger deterrent fencing has been in place since 2009.
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
LIVING LIGHTLY Bridget Tibbs, Cotswold Alpacas, explains how alpacas fit perfectly with a sustainable lifestyle that is creative, climate friendly and works in harmony with the land.
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nce upon a time, 1984 to be precise, seemingly unrelated things started to arrive in my life; spinning, natural dyeing and fibre crafts, alpacas, an awareness of climate change and farming. I was fascinated by them all and of course people thought I was crazy! Now, alpacas are very much on trend, climate change is something we all understand to be real and have to face and learning traditional skills, including spinning, weaving, knitting and using plant dyes, has also become very popular. As a vegetarian I wanted a farm that produced fibre and kept the land and the animals in harmony. In those early days in the 1980s alpacas ticked all the boxes, but cost and rarity made my ambition to produce fibre look like an impossible dream. Hand spinning alpaca fibre imported from Peru was pure bliss but as close as I got to a real live alpaca. But I still pined after them and continued to learn about them. Finally in 2013 my husband James and I, with our children, moved to Korinn Farm in the Cotswolds with some lovely alpacas. The farm came with planning permission for a small building which is part living space part studio/workshop. James built the silver barn using green and energy efficient materials. It is timber framed with hempcrete walls, finished with lime plaster and a glasspor (a specialist recycled building material) base. The building is highly insulated, incredibly fire and rodent resistant and totally breathable because of the hempcrete. We are off grid so it’s powered by solar and battery stores with a diesel generator backup. In two hundred years, if no one is using the building, all that will be left is a pile of stainless steel screws! In the spring we will be starting a much bigger project, when we begin building the farmhouse. This will be built in the same way, by James together with family and friends (virus permitting), and will draw in ground source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting more solar panels and solar thermal collectors consequently reducing our carbon emissions to zero. Electric vehicles are next on the list and James is dreaming of a Tesla!
Custodians of the soil
We see our ourselves as guardians of our land responsible for looking after it in the best possible way. The starting point is soil and soil health, and according to information available on the agricology website (www.agricology.co.uk) there are five main factors that impact soil health: soil structure, soil chemistry, organic matter content, soil biology and water infiltration, retention and movement through the profile. Healthy soil has a balance of these things, unhealthy soil will have a problem in at least one of these areas. Extreme weather conditions are showing us the importance of healthy soil. I know soil health doesn’t stop fields flooding and there are no easy answers, but for us on heavy soil pasture management means doing less and interfering less and we have drier fields in the winter and the grass keeps growing even in the hottest of summers. Our land management focuses on soil health and rewilding and alpacas fit perfectly into this ideology – nature doesn’t need a helping hand she needs to be left alone. We don’t use any chemicals or fertilisers on the land and we no longer top our fields. We rest fields and don’t overgraze. This approach has seen insect diversity increase and bird species are abundant. Owls, woodpeckers, swallows, the list goes on, are all here. Buzzards nest in our woodland and red kites are frequent visitors, feeding on the voles and mice living in the long untopped grass. In summer the alpacas hunt out a variety of forage, eating docks and enjoying cut nettles in the autumn and during the winter months they do a good job of eating most of it down. Old established undisturbed pasture land provides a natural carbon store and each year we are improving the hedges, adding trees, an orchard and of course alpaca poo filled veg beds.
With our alpaca herd it all starts in the field with our breeding programme. This is based entirely on the qualities we want in the yarn we produce alongside alpacas with a calm, friendly and confident disposition. Continued on the next page >>
We have a large range of colours, and look for density, length, brightness << and shine and handle. We want fineness but not under 18 micron as the fleece can become fly away and lose its strength. Fibre is more difficult to use for our production needs as it becomes finer. For the yarn itself natural fleece colours are glorious, but we add to these by dying some of the lighter colours with plant dyes. Harvest time on our farm is May and June. We shear our own alpacas and then James is off round the country shearing. Skirting and sorting fleeces leads to the very best being hand spun with the larger volumes heading to the mills for spinning. The best day for me is when all the lovely skeins of yarn return from the mill. We see our future as sustainable textile producers, educating people about
20 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
alpaca fibre and traditional crafts and the use of natural plant dyes. Provenance, or knowing the history of a product, is becoming ever more important and we want people to have every confidence that the yarn, and our products, have the highest welfare, quality and sustainability standards we can manage. Our farm hasnâ€™t been just a project about alpacas; it is about living in a more sustainable way. It was important for us from the beginning that any work or building we did on the farm worked in a green way. Our focus is to live lightly on the land and alpacas fit this criteria perfectly being literally light footed (and energy efficient producers of sustainable fibre). We couldnâ€™t have done this all on our own and huge thanks must go to family and friends and especially to Trudy and Stuart Drysdale and Camelid specialist vet Bob Broadbent for their ongoing support and friendship.
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
BOYS PAY THEIR WAY
Visitors to Wreay Syke Alpacas learn how Jane and Paul Colman started keeping alpacas almost by accident after a successful auction bid for a field.
ane and Paul Colman began keeping alpacas in 2014 and the story of how the couple started out is part of the highly rated visitor experience at Wreay Syke Alpacas near Kendal in Cumbria, writes Alpaca editor Liz Mason. “Basically, it’s all my husband’s fault,” says Jane. “We lived on a housing estate with a tiny little garden but he wanted an allotment so we started looking around for a little bit of land, just half an acre somewhere we could grow fruit and veg, and we found a field which was up for auction.” “It was bigger than we were looking for but we went for it and although it was the first time we had ever been to an auction, we won.” The couple were in competition during the
22 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
bidding with one other buyer and after deciding to make one final bid they secured the field prompting a loud cheer from their family who they didn’t know were stood behind them and had come to support them. Although Jane and Paul knew the field was large they didn’t realise quite how big it was and were still left with more than five acres once they had fenced off the allotment. They knew they had to keep the grass down somehow but in their local area, on the edge of the Lake District “everybody has sheep” so the couple were unsure what they wanted to do. “We had chickens on the allotment and after some research on the internet we found out that alpacas can be good at protecting chickens and are good grass cutters so they were a win-win for us.
We found a breeder nearby at Little Eskrigg Alpacas and went to see them and also went to a few shows, including the North West Alpaca Group Show. It was after one of these shows we decided to buy five girls with the intention of breeding but quickly discovered that you can spend a lot of money on breeding animals so had to go with what we could afford”.
The idea for trekking was prompted by the arrival of more boys than girls. With five girls Jane and Paul have one or at most two births a year and after five births only one has been a girl. In 2015 their adventure really took off, moving home to be nearer to the alpacas, to a barn conversion with its own paddock. Later that
year their first cria Aztec was born at Wreay Syke Alpacas, a bay black boy so they then had to buy another boy as a companion for him when he was weaned so along came Rolo, a bay black with caramel highlights. A second home born boy, a rose grey called Brock arrived the following year, and half-brother Quattro followed from Little Eskrigg Alpacas as another companion the same year. “That was when we decided that the boys could pay their own way and earn their keep so in 2018 we decided to start a business running trekking and meet and greet experiences,” says Jane. They now have 11 boys and four girls and all the alpacas love meeting and delighting visitors who may be meeting alpacas for the first time.
With Covid-19 restricting holiday travel 2020 became the year of the staycation and visitors flocked to UK holiday destinations, including the Lake District. An online search for things to do in Kendal showed Wreay Syke heading the list of Tripadvisor attractions. “Visitors came and spent time with us telling us they should have been in Portugal or Jamaica for their holidays but instead they came here and said their experience with the alpacas was ‘absolutely brilliant and had made their holiday’,” Jane says. “We were shut down for four months but luckily we still had other jobs to keep us going and when we reopened in July it just went a bit mad and we
were really busy.” Jane and Paul both work in the house building industry and fit the alpaca business around work commitments. Jane does meet and greets in the afternoon and they both do trekking at weekends. Paul also works weekends on any building and maintenance jobs if and when possible! “One meet and greet this summer was just the perfect experience because there were two boys with the group who just went and sat down on the ground next to the alpacas. One of the boys ended up lying up against Rolo – all I needed was some mood music, it was perfect,” Jane says. The Wreay Syke boys also have the looks to match their calm temperaments and show ring ribbons include brown and grey colour champions. Jane and Paul enjoy showing and the chance to meet friends, talk alpacas and maybe win a rosette or ribbon with their small show team. The Wreay Syke boys have also attended weddings and visited care homes and before Covid-19 Jane was planning to launch “Lakeland TheraPacas” after seeing the calming effect alpacas have on visitors and care home residents. “One of our alpacas, called Carmelo seems to go into a trance. He just stands there and lets people stroke him. He is so calm and it is just lovely seeing how people react to him,” Jane says. Covid-19 restrictions have meant the therapy plans are on hold for the moment but in the meantime, Jane is learning all about Animal Assisted therapy by doing an online course. She
is then hoping to take part in an animal assisted activity/therapy course run by Simply Alpacas when restrictions are lifted. The alpacas will also be available to visit businesses, schools and activity centres when restrictions ease.
As well as looking after her alpacas and meeting visitors Jane has learnt to handspin and turns her own fleece into yarn. Now with a weaving loom she has recently been working on place mats and covers for alpaca stuffed cushions. “I can’t knit but I make pom pom key rings from our yarn. I’ve also learnt to wet felt and made white felted hearts as a keepsake for a bride and groom from two of the alpacas we took to their wedding.” Felted soaps are another craft item available for sale but with a busy meet and greet and trekking business, and sell out sales of stock items, Jane is now making all craft items to order. “The point for me is that I have made all the items myself from the fibre straight off the animal, then either hand spinning or felting right through to a finished product. I feel really proud that I am able to do this and love seeing what I have achieved.” From meeting visitors to learning craft skills the alpacas that arrived almost by accident have opened up new business opportunities for Jane and Paul and brought with them a lifestyle that Jane says the couple could never have imagined seven years ago.
A school in South Wales has introduced four alpacas, delighting students and improving their mental health.
he key motivation for introducing the alpacas is to benefit the mental health of students and staff. At a time of national crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, staff say their impact has been particularly important. The alpacas joined Dexter the companion dog and a growing number of hens kept at the Action for Children’s Headlands School in Penarth. The alpacas, renowned for their calm and gentle nature make a striking sight as they roam the school grounds with students actively involved in their care and the development of the outdoor space. David Gillingham, a teacher overseeing the care of the alpacas, said: ‘We are redeveloping a huge area of our outdoor space for the alpacas and hens and have a group of students working with us on the project that have really flourished. Where they have been previously unengaged in academic work, they have relished the physical work and the autonomy we give them in building and maintaining the space. Their mental health has definitely improved, they love the animals and some are keen to work as landscape gardeners when they leave school.’ A student at the school said: "I enjoy working outdoors and caring for the alpacas. They are lovely and interesting animals that seem to have a calming affect on other students too. “We are building feeding stations and picnic tables for everyone to come and enjoy the animals. This part of school is really good for me. When I came to
Headlands last year, I was angry but I’m much better now, the atmosphere here is great and working with the animals has also helped me a lot.” Maxine Cahill, Vice Principal for Care at Headlands, added: ‘There is a lot of research stating the positive mental health benefits of pets and interaction with animals. “This has been key to our whole approach to this innovative initiative. The students here love Dexter, our companion dog and they have responded so well to the alpacas too. The chickens and the chicks they’ve produced have also gone down a storm and provide something for the students to care for, nurture and enjoy during a very stressful time in their young lives.”
› Carl Darlington, Liam and Dave Gillingham
24 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
WOOLLY ARMY WITH A MISSION
“There really is nothing quite so delightful as watching an alpaca take a bath in a lake, it should be recommended as a cure for all cases of melancholy and world weariness,” Terry Barlow, co- founder at the Woolly Army.
achel Kearns tells the story behind Alpacaly Ever After, the Lake District herd affectionately known to their many social media followers as the Woolly Army. It was once upon a time in the land of the lakes when Emma Smalley (writer, illustrator, and maker of beautifully whimsical things) found herself accidentally nodding her head when Terry (former soldier in the British Army, ne’er do well, and thinker of Big Ideas) informed her that the only sensible thing to do in their spare time, was to start looking after a herd of alpacas. They started with a name – because that was clearly the important bit – and Alpacaly Ever After was born. The two entrepreneurs are fast learners and dedicated grafters. From their humble beginnings, they now have a herd of more than 140 delightfully funny looking re-homed and rescued alpacas and llamas, all supported by a successful social enterprise. Emma and Terry set up the independent social enterprise to make best use of their skills and do something positive and innovative with the land where they live: the beautiful Lake District National Park. Through their guided walks and activities, the team bring visitors in touch with the landscape and natural world in an enjoyable, engaging and therapeutic way. Their experiences are
26 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
accessible to all and can be adapted to suit any audience and they make sure all participants benefit from an inspiring and memorable experience. The company has a team of seven full time guides who Emma and Terry are incredibly proud of. “They put so much love, time and energy into the wellbeing of the alpacas and llamas (to the point that some of them have paintings, and even tattoos of their favourites!) And they unfailingly make sure that all of our visitors have the most amazing experience possible,” says Emma. Local partnership working is a key part of the Alpacaly Ever After ethos. This includes the Lingholm Estate along the beautiful shores of Derwent Water, where the team provide alpaca walking experiences through the private grounds visited many times by Beatrix Potter. Walkers get to know the wonderful alpacas up close, take them for a paddle in the lake, meet the herd, take part in feeding time and ask as many alpaca questions as they can think of! At the award winning Lakes Distillery in Bassenthwaite, participants can ‘Meet and Greet’ the herd's alpaca mums and babies (an experience suitable for all ages and abilities). For those after something a bit more adventurous Whinlatter Forest (the UK’s only mountain forest), offers a stunning walk with the alpacas through forest up to the viewpoint looking out over Keswick. This experience is suitable for people with good mobility and fitness levels.
And finally, the team are now offering llama treks at Little Town Farm in the Newlands Valley. This challenging adventure will see you scale a mountain and enjoy the most amazing views from the ridgeline of Catbells – definitely one for adventurers with good fitness levels! Alpacaly Ever After is rated Tripadvisors’ number one activity in the Lake District. The team have won both the Travellers’ Choice Award and the Best of Britain Activities title in 2020 which saw them in such illustrious company as Buckingham Palace and Covent Garden!
As part of their non-profit mission Alpacaly Ever After uses the income from welcoming visitors from all over the world, to provide experiences for many third sector organisations including: Launchpad Veterans Services, Young Adults in Respite Services (YARS), Cumbria County Council’s Foster Care Services, Eden Valley Hospice, Friends of Chernobyl's Children, Cumbria Headway, AWAZ Cumbria, Always Another Way Cumbria Ltd and the One In A Million Foundation. Commenting on their experience Lesley from YARS said: “Best thing we have done with our group, so relaxing and rewarding. Our young disabled adults found it so therapeutic.” Emma says the visitors are amazingly supportive of their mission. “We try and make sure they understand how much we appreciate their support and let them know that every time they buy a gift or voucher, or book an experience they are helping us fulfil our social aims.” The team’s alpacas and llamas have proved a huge hit on social media. The ‘Woolly Army’ (as they’re affectionately known to their followers) have been featured on Salvage Hunters, ITV and BBC news, the Telegraph and i newspapers, Diply, and Love Travel. The Woolly Army even escorted the Unilad team up to the top of Catbells and the resulting video received over five million views! Emma and Terry then teamed up with Unilad, along with Virgin Trains and Visit Britain, to make a video promoting rail travel to The Lake District. Terry says: “We also get quite a lot of celebrity visits where we try our best not to embarrass ourselves by getting too excited!” As for so many others 2020, has proved to be a tricky time for Alpacaly Every After but, as Emma says, “we are incredibly lucky in where we live surrounded by beautiful scenery and nothing gives you a dose of perspective like having 140 animals to care for!” Continued on the next page >>
During the first lockdown when the team were unable to run any of their normal activities, they focused on developing areas of their business that they didn't have time for before. This included further developing their website, online shop and expanding their product range, to promote and provide financial support to ensure ‘The Woolly Army’ is provided with the same level of care, no matter what shenanigans they are faced with! Emma says: “We now have awesome Adoption Packs, video shout-outs, and new ethical merchandise available that has been wonderfully received by the lovely people who support us. “To show our gratitude for front line workers and to try and do what we could to help keep everyone’s chin up, we asked our followers to nominate people they knew for free video shout-outs from Terry and the alpacas and we also offered free walks, as soon as we could operate again, to those on the front line to help keep their spirits up.” The team also used lockdown to learn new skills: they successfully taught themselves how to shear their herd without the aid of any out sourced shearers – a huge benefit in the years to come. When restrictions were lifted they were also able to have some staff days out llama trekking to plan
28 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
more exciting adventures for the months ahead. Once Alpacaly Ever After re-opened on the 4th of July and the team implemented their Covid-19 safety procedures (and secured their ‘Good to Go’ tick by Visit Britain), they soon found themselves busier than ever. People were understandably very eager to get out and about in the fresh air and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of time spent in nature. So, although 2020 has presented some challenges there were also some great opportunities and the team made sure they took them.
Home for life
On top of all this, the Woolly Army has expanded! Terry says: “We get contacted by both alpaca and llama owners who are looking for new, safe homes for their animals. It tends to be people whose lifestyle has changed, or who find they can no longer look after their animals due to health issues and are reluctant to split their pets or herds up, or risk their welfare by selling them. “We very rarely encounter purposeful ill-treatment, it is usually the case when animals come to us in a difficult state, that people have simply become unable to care for them any longer despite their best intentions and that is where we step in. We try to keep all our lines of communication
open so that anyone seeking advice about care and well-being can come to us, as we have often encountered people being too intimidated to come forward when they need help, particularly in online chats and forums.” All of the animals that come into the team’s care are placed in a trust so they have a home for life and the dedicated care of the team. This includes a quarantine period for new arrivals until they have had full health checks and have settled into their new home. The team then gradually introduce them to one of their herds, specially chosen to fit their personality, and supervise their integration to make sure that they find their Alpacaly Ever After. Terry says: “We have established some really good and valuable working relationships with both our local vets and land owners in the area. This is key to getting the support and space that we need to keep re-homing and expanding.” So, not bad for a start, but as we’re reliably informed Terry is a Thinker Of Big Ideas and he has grander plans ahead… So where will the story go next? Well, all they know for sure is that it has been an absolute privilege to spend time in such gentle, curious and extremely funny-looking company, and that they will be trying their hardest, every day, to make sure that ‘The Woolly Army’ get to live out their Alpacaly Ever After…
KW Animal Services_Alpaca_JB.pdf
Are you looking for or in need of a little extra help with your animals and their routine husbandry tasks? KW animal services offers that extra pair of hands. Jobs include: Shearing of alpacas | Vaccinations | Worming Halter training | Foot trimming | Microchipping I can also offer advice and help with a range of other issues such as matings, birthing, common husbandry problems and paddock management. Reasonable rates
Why not contact me to discuss your requirements Tel: 07748 613771 | Email: email@example.com
Chilla Valley Alpacas is a small rural business based in Cornwall where we have a herd of breeding alpacas We are a small family run alpaca breeder based in Devon where we specialise in quality genetics over quantity. We produce selectively bred strong healthy animals with desirable fleece characteristics. All of our animals are BAS registered and microchipped. We have a small number of alpacas in a variety of colours for sale this year and would be pleased to receive your enquiries. Also available is our range of yarns, knitting kits, duvets and socks.
no: 01409 221699 All animals Telephone BAS registered and microchipped Potential stud males and pregnant females for sale See our range of yarns, kits, and socks
07966 938448 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chillavalleyalpacas.co.uk
www.thornalpacas.co.uk We are a small family run farm near Dartmouth in Devon, breeding quality, coloured and prize winning Huacaya Alpacas. Males and females are available, they are halter trained and BAS registered. After sales support and advice are also available.
Knitwear from Thorn Alpacas for babies, children and adults We welcome visitors come and be beguiled by these beautiful and enchanting animals but please ring or e-mail to arrange a time.
Contact Katie Franks on 01803 832163 / 07711 767476 or via the website
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
SUPPORTING BRITISH FIBRE
British alpaca should be valued as one of the world’s most sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical and luxurious fibres, says Emma Taylor, BAS fibre committee chair and co-owner at East Anglia Alpaca Mill.
fter a childhood riding accident forced her to give up her horses, Emma was left with 20 acres of land - a lot of grass to cut, writes Alpaca editor Liz Mason. “It became a standing joke with the children that mum’s out mowing again,” Emma says. Alpacas entered the picture as an alternative to horses. Emma had previously briefly considered alpacas but with a relatively young family still at home the idea was put on the back burner. After she met her partner Chris, alpacas came up in conversation purely by chance. “We spent two years researching them before we took the plunge,” says Emma. “We visited a couple of larger breeders but we bought our core herd from two smaller breeders. We preferred the more personal level of service and what we believed, correctly as we later found out, to be honest feedback about the animals we were looking at.” Eleven years later the couple, and one of the breeders who sold them half of their starter herd, (the other has since dispersed their herd) still share helpful health advice and general alpaca chit chat. “It’s that pre and after sales service that is so important.
30 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
“You are entering into a new world as a first-time owner and certainly in the first two years of breeding, and alpaca ownership in general, you are on a sharp learning curve. You need to have someone on hand to answer questions honestly, if only for reassurance.”
While alpacas can be very attractive “eye candy” Emma and Chris quickly established that these extremely cute animals are bred and kept primarily for fibre. “We researched what could be done with our initial fibre clip and the answer at that time was not a lot! “After making enquiries at several mills we were told that unless you have 25 kg of the same colour fleece, with the same micron, the same staple length, sheared that year, you can’t do anything with it.” Two or three businesses were buying fibre but the money they paid to owners for fleece didn’t cover their shearing costs. “That is still true today and until we can get those shearing costs down we are not going to realise the profit for alpaca end products which is there to be made,” Emma maintains.
ALPACA Grown in the UK
Grown in the UK
From their enquiries, and further research, Emma and Chris identified a gap in the market which they set out to fill by establishing their own mill to process small and medium sized batches. “Most people buy several different coloured alpacas at first. They like to have colour variety initially and in doing so they end up with approximately 1.5kg of each colour fleece – insufficient for most mills to even consider. “Before we set up our mill there was no one offering a service that would allow owners to have a single fleece processed. Owners are understandably attached to their precious alpacas and like to know the finished yarn is solely from their alpaca, not a proportion of various quality fleeces which have been combined or indeed blended with other fibres. We offer processing of a single fleece with total provenance through our mill. Chris has “a passion for machinery” and when setting up the mill adapted most mill components to suit their needs or designed what could not be purchased. Recently the original bespoke design scouring system has been updated to an automated process and Emma says they are constantly looking to improve the services they offer clients. Starting with little or no knowledge and first testing their processing skills on their own fibre Emma and Chris have built a reputation for quality processing and products in the UK and overseas. “We aim to offer best advice to our customers. Sometimes that advice may be not to process their fibre because of quality or economics for the customer. For us it is paramount that we have a good rapport with our customers, understand their needs and are honest and open with them. “We don’t want to spend peoples’ money on processing fibre that is not going to produce a reasonable product.”
All fibre from the finest to coarser fibre (from older or poorer quality animals) has an end use. But it is essential to know what quality to use for a particular end product. “The emphasis now seems to breed finer and finer fibre and while we can process the finest fibre the end use for that fibre is more limited but may attract a greater end product price tag. “The best quality fibre is stunningly beautiful. The finished garments made from that fibre are at the top end of the market commanding top prices, but you need to know what grade and micron range of fibre to use for the end product you intend to make.” Show champions may not always have fibre suitable for particular end products. Crimp, fineness and density were the main three descriptive words heard during the judge’s oral reasoning at shows in the past. “These three elements are still hugely important and should not be ignored by breeders but when you put uniformity in there as well, then we’re starting to talk complete fibre language,” Emma maintains. “The more uniform the fibre the better the yield and therefore the better the return for the client from either their yarn or end product.” Crimp truthfully has no meaning for processors as borne out by the survey carried out by Paul Vallely of Art of Fibre. Paul had to send a second email to mill owners (worldwide) asking why crimp had no place in mill terminology! Skirting and correct batching of fleeces is vital and Emma makes sure owners are aware of the impact that skirting has on final product quality. No harsh Continued on the next page >>
Mobile apps from AlpacaSeller for Android and iPhone Are you connected to the market place? Tel 01730 823256 l email@example.com l www.alpacaller.com
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
<< chemicals are used when scouring (to dissolve vegetable matter) ensuring the scale profile of the natural fibre is protected. But retention of coarse or short fibre is detrimental to the end product and creates “a halo” of coarse ends on yarn which even in the finest of fleeces will prickle the wearer.
The ultimate goal for British alpaca is to have a sustainable UK fibre industry. But there are still hurdles to overcome; owners need to be able to cover their shearing costs and shearers need to recognise processors’ needs. The BAS is not in a position to build that market so managing members’ expectations is vital together with furnishing breeders with necessary information. To enable mills to turn fleece into quality yarn, fleece needs to be presented to them in “a useable condition”. This means shearers need to remove the highest quality blanket area first in an appropriate manner and owners need to make sure it is skirted and packaged separately from poorer quality neck and leg fleece to prevent contamination with coarse fibres. “We also need people to understand what skirting is and then to skirt at the time of shearing. This is hugely important, and of course well skirted fleeces are going to attract a better price from a buyer.” As the driving force behind the launch of BAS fibre marques to promote alpaca products (available free of charge to members), Emma is passionate about promoting British alpaca fibre and raising its profile. “I want the general public to appreciate that good alpaca is a luxury product and for them to think about it as they did cashmere. “The biggest competitor is imported alpaca fibre which can be brought into the
32 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
UK very cheaply and because of existing legislation, fibre that is subject to a single process in this country can then be labelled as British. The question purchasers need to ask is where does the raw fibre come from? It’s all very well saying it is British but is it really British? “We process fibre through our mill for clients in Europe, the US and NZ but we are passionate that alpacas raised in this country have their fibre profile raised.” With people becoming more aware of the environmental impact of products, and the air miles involved in importing them from overseas, British alpaca products are well placed to take advantage. “Every item we sell in our shop is labelled with the animal or combination of animals that have produced the raw fleece which is made into the end product. We breed, shear, process and sell on site which mean there are zero miles involved. “We don’t undertake any dyeing, we don’t blend, we don’t use any harsh chemicals, we use rainwater and we recycle it and we aim to be as carbon neutral as we can,” Emma adds. There may be some way to go before the UK has an alpaca fibre industry but Emma and Chris are committed to ensuring they provide the best service they can to owners who want to turn their fibre into sustainable alpaca products made with care from field to shop shelf.
For more information: www.EastAngliaAlpacaMill.co.uk www.ExclusivelyAlpaca.co.uk
CREATING A COTTAGE INDUSTRY Learning to make handcrafted items from fleece that can often be left stored in sheds can bring unexpected rewards, says handspinner, weaver and alpaca owner Annie Nickerson, Burnt Fen Alpacas.
› Handweaving a shawl showing the fabulous colours achieved with natural dyes
nnie is passionate about alpaca fibre and her creative work, writes Alpaca editor Liz Mason. Starting as a complete beginner she learnt to handspin, weave, felt and knit and now teaches handspinning and weaving in workshops at her Norfolk studio alongside the alpacas. She also sells handwoven scarves, shawls and blankets in natural colours crafted from her own fibre. Her designs are made with her own handspun yarn as well as yarn she has processed at a mill which gives her a greater range of yarns. Recently Annie has become interested in using plant dyes, grown on the farm or foraged from hedgerows to complement the natural colours of the Burnt Fen herd. After learning to hand spin Annie started to make craft items as her fascination
34 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
and love for working with fibre grew. Her passion has seen an interest grow into a full time cottage industry, but it was the alpacas and not their fibre, or any plan to work creatively with it, that first captivated Annie and her husband Jamie. “To begin with I shoved my fibre in a shed and said ‘I don’t know what to do with this’. But I told myself it was time the alpacas and their fibre started to earn their keep and that is how I started.” Annie and Jamie’s first alpacas arrived after they moved to their Norfolk house with its small paddock. The couple were planning to keep livestock and just happened to fall in love with alpacas. “We read a newspaper article about someone who had just bought 200 alpacas into the country. I had never even seen one and we both said ‘wow, they’re gorgeous’.” Continued on the next page >>
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Annie says: “It just fitted with where we were, and what we wanted to do, << so we went to see some, fell head over heels in love with them, and pretty much walked out of the gate owning three alpacas.” At the time alpacas were unusual and people often asked “what is that?” when they saw them in the field, which was quite fun, she adds. Finding a use for the fleece was also not an issue because the British Alpaca Fibre Co-operative existed to buy from owners and Annie and Jamie had bought their alpacas on the understanding that the fleece would be collected by the co-operative after shearing. Unfortunately, the co-op folded shortly after and their fleece was “shoved in a shed” until Annie decided to “take a look and do something with it”.
Annie Nickerson alpaca owner, natural dyer, handspinner and weaver at Burnt Fen Alpacas
Encouraged by local alpaca owner Su Lenk, who was passionate about welfare, education and improving fibre, Annie began a learning journey which was to lead to her creative work. Su also persuaded Annie to try showing. “This was great fun and also led to me learning more about fibre and signing up for a detailed fibre analysis course,” she says. The next step was to understand how fibre is processed at mills and to do that Annie decided learning to handspin would help to demystify the process. “I’d always liked delving into creative projects but when I started spinning it was fantastic. I loved the fact that I was using fleece from the animal and I could take it all the way through to a final product. “To begin with I struggled because I thought I could spin all my fibre. But it is a long, slow process and it’s important not to start by thinking you can spin twenty fleeces because that is never going to happen. But the more I worked with the fibre the more interested I became and the more it drew me in as a complete creative process.”
Fit for purpose
› Naturally dyed yarn › Handspun and handwoven blanket in natural colours
36 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
The first item created from Burnt Fen alpaca fibre was a scarf made through the co-operative. “I sent in every scrap of our fibre and got back a very scratchy, itchy scarf which I have kept to remind myself that it’s all about the quality. “I am passionate about quality because it is so important to have the quality of fibre to work with. Everyone says how soft alpaca is, but you do get some rough fleece. I have some lovely old boys in the herd that I do walking with, but I’m not planning to spin their fleece because I don’t think anyone is going to want to wear it,” Annie adds. Learning to judge fibre quality is a vital part of the creative journey. “A key phrase to keep in mind is, ‘fit for purpose’; don’t spend hours spinning a poor fleece to make a lace scarf but for a robust winter jumper or a felted coat it might be perfect. You need the end product in mind at the beginning of the process. Continued on the next page >>
› Hand knitted socks with hand dyed detail
Mid-Cornwall’s premier alpaca herd Our breeding aim is to maximise fibre production and improve fibre quality generation upon generation, with a view to providing the ultimate fibre for yarn production.
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Office 01344 486969 Lisa Hipkin 07770 455534 firstname.lastname@example.org Scotlands Farm, Warfield, Berkshire RG42 6AJ Alpaca Yearbook 2021
“It is a learning curve and it is why I think learning about the fibre and the << animals together is important for the country’s breeding programme as well as on an individual herd level.” Handspinning and weaving are Annie’s passions but as spinning by hand is a time consuming process she selects which fleece to handspin and which to send to the mill. Using natural dyes also adds more time to the creative process and this is reflected in the cost of a finished scarf or shawl. But she loves the fabulous colours her plant dyes give the finished work and says people are willing to invest in hand crafted, sustainable items. “More people are prepared to buy one item that is going to last rather than 25 synthetic versions. More and more customers are interested in the process and sustainability they like the fact that they are connecting with something that is handmade and made with care.” However, the reward that comes from learning to use traditional crafts, including spinning and weaving, are not just monetary, especially when you own your own alpacas. “Spinning and weaving is about enjoying using your fibre to make something for you,” Annie says. “This could be the most amazingly warm blanket and you will love it even more because you know exactly where it has come from.” With the growing interest in learning and connecting with traditional craft skills Annie’s small workshops are popular. ”It is about the whole process starting from
the beginning, through to achieving a finished product. It is very mindful and people enjoy that aspect of sitting down to spin or weave and physically making something.” Annie tells her students “not to expect to walk out from a workshop with two-ply. But you will walk out with the most amazing chunky, funky textured yarn, and especially with weaving, but with knitting too, you can make the most incredible things using the yarn and then it’s all about practice to get the yarn you want. While Annie finds handspinning “incredibly relaxing” as an owner she can also look forward each summer to the exciting arrival of newborn cria and the outcome of carefully planned breeding decisions to improve fleece quality. “When we started we really didn’t know what we were doing but I now know that the fleeces we have are great quality and hopefully getting better every year. “For me it is all about colour and fineness as that is what I like to work with and of course the alpacas themselves – there are such individual personalities behind those big eyes and because they can live to more than twenty years old there is a real opportunity to get to know them.”
To see more visit : www.burntfen.co.uk
› Introducing Jelly, Babooshka and Odon
38 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
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‘BRIGHTENING MY DAYS’
Textile designer Magdalena Sobula shares her passion for alpaca yarns and her ambition to help British alpaca fibre become widely recognised as one of the UK’s top luxury products. › Magdalena Sobula
fell in love with alpacas more than four years ago when my friend Izabella introduced me to DROPS alpaca yarn and it was a love from first touch. That summer I also went on my first alpaca walk at an alpaca farm near Krakow in Poland and I discovered that alpacas are also fantastic pets and companions. At that time, I was just starting my degree in textile design specialising in weaving. Over the next three years I found that almost no one in the UK uses alpaca in woven textiles on a commercial scale. This was very surprising for me as I knew the incredibly soft and luxurious feel alpaca has – even cheap, commercial yarn.
40 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
I did some more digging and found out that good quality alpaca fibre is in fact comparable to cashmere in terms of softness and luxury feel. So why do British textile designers import cashmere while there are plenty of British alpacas with beautiful soft fleeces just wondering around? At that point I decided to focus on British alpaca fibre for my Honours project. I wanted to design comfort textiles, including soft blankets and shawls. I was certain alpaca was a good choice. As a nod towards sustainability, I wanted to use fibre and yarn from local producers. Continued on the next page >>
ITâ€™S IN OUR DNA
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
My first ever 100% British alpaca warp ready to go on the dobby loom
<< After my third year I applied for a John Neil Travel Award and was given funding to travel to East Anglia Alpaca Mill. The owners, Emma and Chris were kind enough to share their vast knowledge and experience. Over my two day visit I learned tonnes about alpacas and processing their fibre. It also strengthened my resolve to use only British alpaca fibre for my project.
My sample blankets – as they came off the loom, I then had to cut them to individual samples
Visual inspiration for my project was my collection of small, mindful moments captured on camera. I wanted to use natural alpaca shades to create gradients and textures and just as my happy moments brighten my days I wanted to inject rainbow colours to brighten my designs. I designed and hand dyed rainbow yarns and I experimented to make my dyeing process as environmentally friendly as possible. I decided to use acid dyes as they provided the bright rainbow colours I needed. My goal was to use as little dye as possible while achieving maximum visual effect. While sourcing yarns for my project I discovered that it is very hard to source alpaca yarn strong enough to be used for warp. Yarns available for sale are aimed mostly for knitting, crochet or as a weft in weaving. If the fibre is processed for weaving it is usually for the owner’s private use. I decided to buy some alpaca fleeces and have them
My middle boy, Adam, loves everything soft and fluffy. He's 12 and he is very interested in my course. My first alpaca blanket will be for him
42 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
processed at East Anglia Alpaca Mill. I bought a grey fleece, from a gorgeous boy called Steely Dan, from Velvet Hall Alpacas near Galashiels. Another white fleece was given to me by my friend and Emma from the mill kindly donated black and silver-grey yarns for my project. These yarns were an absolute joy to work with. I can honestly say they were the best yarns I have worked with as a weaver. Not a single warp end broke! I had all my fellow students, even the lecturers and visitors come to my loom to admire and touch my samples before I even finished weaving – I knew I had chosen my fibre well. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic I wasn’t able to weave finished products, just small samples of my designs. They are incredibly soft textiles that are suitable for blankets, shawls and soft furnishings, and they showcase the exceptional qualities of British alpaca. Working on my project made me realise how little is known, even in the woven textiles industry, about alpaca fibre. I am now working towards my Master’s degree and my goal is to help create links between alpaca owners, fibre processors and weavers and somehow help them to speak the same language. I hope to help make British alpaca fibre widely recognised as one of the UK’s top luxury products.
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Introducing our new grey stud for 2021, Velvet Hall Finisterre. Born 06/06/2019 with both dam and sire being multi champions in the show ring. Dam is Bozedown Nunavut and the sire is Beck Brow On the Money. He was awarded champion grey ﬂeece at the Heart of England ﬂeece show. Displaying all the traits we would expect from a stud. Excellent ﬁneness, density, staple length and very, very bright. He also exhibits fantastic uniformity of micron between the dark and light ﬁbres, which displays in the way the staples are aligned as well as the handle. Please contact us if you are interested in a mating with this fantastic grey stud.
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Limestone Arthur 2020 newborn boy
BREEDING BY DESIGN
BAS board member Ken Freivokh is a multi award winning architect, stylist and designer of some of the world’s biggest and most iconic superyachts. In this interview he tells Alpaca editor Liz Mason how he came to build an outstanding championship winning herd at Artwork Alpacas in West Sussex.
How did a superyacht designer become involved with alpacas and can you tell us about your first alpaca encounter? Born in Los Angeles, USA, I was brought up in Peru, where I lived and trained as an architect. I often would drive up to the mountains and spend time with the alpacas, vicunas, llamas and guanacos – all camelids, yet very different characters, and bred for very different purposes. Years later I returned to Peru with Liz, my partner, and I will never forget her first encounter with an alpaca – we had just descended from Huayna Pichu to Machu Picchu, sat on a rock to admire the misty morning landscape, and suddenly discovered a handsome and very curious alpaca standing right beside us. It was an amazing moment! Shortly after we bought our current farmhouse, we had the opportunity to buy the field immediately in front. We love animals, and pondered what to go for – I seem to recall I said to Liz: “I would prefer not to have to milk them, ride them or eat them” – too good an opportunity to miss to get some of the amazing animals I had so admired in Peru.
44 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Yacht design would appear to be very different from breeding alpacas. Do the two worlds collide in any way and how do you balance your work life with alpaca breeding? Those two worlds have some things in common – they are both very special in their own way, and what better than spend your life doing things you love and enjoy. Owning alpacas is often described as life changing – what difference have alpacas made to your life? They are such intriguing creatures – spending time with them always has an amazing calming effect. When they come up to you, with their enormous, beautiful eyes, curious and interested to find out what you will be doing that day, you definitely feel there is a unique connection. They love checking out farm machinery, sprinklers, sneaking into the hay store or managing to escape through an open gate – they certainly keep you on your toes!
What are your aims as a breeder and how has the Artwork herd evolved over the years? I guess I always had a mental picture of what I really liked. Having been invited by US alpaca judge and breeder Jude Anderson to help with colour checking at the top US show, the Kansas Futurity, I came across the very picture in my mind; some 60 amazing Snowmass alpacas with incredible breeding, lovely frames and heads, fabulous fleece. I ended up buying a full team of nine championship winning alpacas, three stud males and six beautiful females. They had to travel via New Zealand, and I flew there for one day to try and mate a couple of them to avoid losing a full year. The two matings gave us two beautiful females and, at their very first show, both juniors won their colour championship. In the meantime, the sires had also won their respective championships including Supreme Championships, and it totally vindicated the decision to bring such a scientifically bred group to England. Do you have an ideal alpaca in mind when making breeding decisions and are there any alpacas in your herd which are close to this? Definitely the group from America totally meet our expectations. However, in the three years ahead of importing the Snowmass alpacas, I had also been smitten by Fowberry Nobility and on three consecutive years we took groups of six of our females to be mated to him. We also purchased one of Nobility’s most famous offspring – BAS National Champion Fowberry Aurelius. Such decisions totally worked out, and what we are now finally able to do is to bring together the best of US and Australian breeding. The first few crias from such mix are certainly living up to expectation, and it is such a shame that halter shows were cancelled in 2020! What have been your best moments as an alpaca owner? Have these been in the show ring? The show ring has certainly been very rewarding, but nothing can beat being greeted by some eager alpacas on a lovely, misty morning, or seeing the crias running ‘round and round' at dusk!. Witnessing births, or a baby’s first drink from mum are also such special moments.
› Mystic Star – US and UK champion
American Beauty – Champion Brown Midlands 2019
Snowmass Bronze Royalty – National Brown Champion
Can you remember your first time in the show ring and how did you prepare? Did it happen as expected? I did feel somewhat out of place – it helped suddenly seeing Neil Payne (West Wight Alpacas) whom I had met years before yacht racing suddenly appear dressed in his white coat with an alpaca on tow. What a change! What are your future goals for the herd at Artwork Alpacas and how do you aim to achieve them? First and foremost, we hope to continue being surrounded by a healthy team of handsome alpacas. We are fully focused on achieving unique breeding results using our champion Snowmass males and Aurelius. This year has produced incredible results, and we have followed that by alternating the Snowmass breeding and selectively breeding with the best of the Fowberry/EP Cambridge breeding, as well as targeted breeding with the initial group of Snowmass studs which we imported alongside Alpaca Evolution, Meon Valley Alpacas and Pure Alpacas. We are very confident that such layering of bloodlines will reward us with ever better results, not only in terms of fleece qualities, but also conformation and type. Lastly what advice would you give to new owners? Focus on enjoying your alpacas, which will ensure that carrying out all necessary tasks becomes enjoyable. Get to know each one, as that will enable you to sense if anyone is below par. Look at each and every one daily, as they are masters in hiding problems – sometimes, a minor cut or bite can lead to fly strike which, if not detected early, can have dire consequences. Finally, why not take the opportunity to experiment, aiming to improve your breeding? Rather than being content to mate your females with the nearest male, be more ambitious and seek out stud males of exceptional breeding and type – it will provide all the excitement of looking forward to some equally exceptional offspring!
Voyager – US and UK champion
WHY SHOW? PART ONE
BAS judge Mary-Jo Smith, Bozedown Alpacas, offers an insight into the world of showing and it’s not all about winning! Showing inspires new breeding ideas and helps breeders find new genetics to help them develop outstanding herds.
hat is alpaca showing all about? I have been showing alpacas now for 20 years and have loved every minute. It is not all about the winning – hey who am I kidding? Winning is great, but I always recommend anyone to come and show. There is more to learn and enjoy than just winning. As an exhibitor at shows I certainly take my alpacas to showcase them, but I also go to see how I stack up against others and see what others are breeding. Whether I win or lose I am always looking at everyone’s alpacas and am usually one of the first at the gates asking to see the alpacas coming out of the ring. I am always looking to learn and find new genetics. If I come further down the judging line I go and look to see how far away I am or what it is that a more highly placed alpaca is exhibiting that mine is not. This inspires new breeding ideas and I’m always looking for the next ideal alpaca. Showing is like a shopkeepers window for you to sell alpacas, or just to market your genetics, and also for others to market and sell to you. It will be interesting to see after Covid-19 settles down and we can all get back to shows either as an exhibitor, judge or spectator to see who has made leaps ahead, fallen behind or is just plodding along.
46 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
I always recommend new breeders to take alpacas to their local show or even the BAS National Show to dip their toes in the water. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a champion alpaca to show but it will help you to learn about your alpaca and our industry. It is a great social event and a great way to meet other like minded people who are all alpaca obsessed. We talk alpacas non-stop; showing, genetics, feeding, veterinary – just about everything gets discussed at a show! Swap ideas, hear what others are doing, so much goes on outside the ring as well as in the ring. If you are not wanting to show your own alpacas at the present moment there are always some breeders looking for help with showing theirs, especially those breeders that take larger numbers of animals to a show. They are usually short handed at some point which means you can get experience in the ring without the pressure of showing one of your own. We have had lots of help over the years and new owners, or even those who do not yet have alpacas, have shown for us. I think out of all the livestock shows alpaca showing is one of the more laid back in the ring and everyone is more than willing to lend a hand and help you learn. Then there is always a helpful ring steward on hand who can guide you or help hold your alpaca if required!
Listen to the judge and get some feedback on your alpacas; learn the positive and the negative traits but remember the feedback is based partly on who you’re up against. Judging in the show ring is based on comparatives. The judge will give you some feedback about your alpaca but the majority of the reasoning is compared to the alpacas you are being judged against. A win at a top show against strong competition may be more meaningful than a smaller show, but this does still depend on the quality of the competition. A great way to learn is to stand on the edge of the ring and listen to the judge’s oral reasoning on why they have placed the alpacas in the order that they have. Pick out a few key points that the judge has mentioned and then go and ask the owners if you can have a look at the relevant alpacas and see if you can see what was described. This will help you to identify traits and also may possibly allow you to get your hands on better alpacas than you have. Shows are always educational and a great way to learn. I personally tend to only show my alpacas at the larger shows these days as I want to see how our breeding compares with the majority of the top breeders but smaller local shows are a great way to meet people in your area and show off who
oak view alpacas
Garry and Andrea Naish, Wickwar, South Glos. Tel: 01454-227124 Mob. 07785-116211
and what you are breeding. As a judge I love to travel and judge at shows far and wide, this allows me a unique opportunity to see what the alpacas are like around the world so to speak. I have had the opportunity to judge in a variety of countries and love every chance of getting my hands in lots and lots of alpacas’ fleeces. Most shows these days also offer junior handler classes where our younger generation get a chance to hone their skills as handlers at the shows. This is a great way for children from age five to sixteen to gain experience in the ring and learn more about their alpacas. Some shows also offer fancy dress classes which showcase just how easy-going the alpacas are in allowing us to dress them up (and their handlers). It is a little extra fun. I have also been to a few shows that offer agility classes where great handlers can manage to get their alpacas to walk through an obstacle course and this brings great entertainment value to both exhibitors and public alike. So, depending on the show there is a lot to be offered, making showing an event for the whole family. Showing is a great educational and social experience; don’t be shy come along to a show with your alpacas and I hope to see you all soon.
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hirley Bettinson, together with husband Rob, founded Toft Alpacas in 1997. As a BAS qualified judge Shirley has judged many halter and fleece shows throughout the UK and Europe. In this interview for Alpaca magazine she shares some of her alpaca career memories and highlights.
When did you meet your first alpacas and what attracted you to them? I was introduced to the idea of alpacas by Rob, my husband (with our children supporting the idea) and saw my first alpacas at the Royal Show, Stoneleigh in 1996. What were the first Toft alpacas like and where did they come from? We find it quite disconcerting looking back at photos of our first alpacas. They look so primitive! We originally bought from John Gaye, an agent for Arunvale Alpacas who were one of the main importers at the time. We asked for four different colours for the four children. When we turned up to view them they were in a pen and that was it. You had no choice. There were less than 1000 alpacas in the country then. There was no choice and the cost was £7,500 each plus VAT. We must have been feeling real flush. How did you start showing alpacas and what was it like to take part in the first shows in the UK? We watched the first show rather than participate. It was on David and Annabelle Barnet’s farm at Purston. It was a steep learning curve – some alpacas were carried into the ring and out again post judging as the halter training was totally inadequate. How important has showing been to the development of your herd as well as the national herd? The show ring is a valuable shop window of our business. It is a great opportunity for all of us to see what the alpacas are like in other parts of the country. When you get up close to excellent show alpacas you can really see where your own fit in the National Herd and gain insight as to what direction you should be heading in. I still feel both envy and total admiration when I see the quality of alpacas in the show ring today. Do you have any particularly memorable showring moments? You always remember your first championships and a Supreme is totally unforgettable. Our first and only Supreme was at the Kenilworth Show with a white alpaca of course in those earlier days. There have been a few since but I still remember the first time we won a Champion Brown Male at the National Show. Our herdswoman Linda Newport’s reaction was priceless, she was in tears and so proud, and she still wells up now when she talks about it. You have travelled to Peru, the US and Australia as an alpaca owner. Have there been any particular highlights? I challenge anyone to not hold great memories of the Alpaca Fiesta in Peru as the most memorable of alpaca events. We went there in 2000 to celebrate our twentieth Wedding Anniversary. We made some great alpaca friends and I will never forget it. On our return I vowed that I would learn Spanish in order to be able to communicate properly with the local people. I still haven’t done it. The Australian Nationals come a close second to the Alpaca Fiesta. We loved Australia and spent many hours searching and purchasing some wonderful alpacas from all over the country. At that time the quality of the Australian alpacas surpassed ours in the UK but I’ m pleased to say the UK has caught them up and would hold their own in the show ring anywhere in the world. The New Zealand National was the first time we bought quality alpacas from an overseas auction.
48 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
As a BAS judge have you met any alpacas in the show ring that you would like to take home? Many! Have there been any special or stand out alpacas in the Toft herd that you have been particularly fond of? Accoyo Cornelius was our first stud male purchased from Mike Coghlan of Blenheim Alpacas. He laid a great foundation to our herd. Skywalker of Toft will always be a firm favourite. He was imported from Peru and took our herd to a new level. He was still very fine when he was put to sleep at over 16 years old. Barrabinda Flinders Star produced our first Champion Fawn female who went on to produce Toft Timogen and Toft Tornado who have added a lot of quality to our herd. Density and longevity of fineness was added by Lavender Park Tulley big time! He went on to produce a series of very special males. What would you most like to achieve as an alpaca owner in the next few years? We’re all still searching for the perfect alpaca. We continue to add specific traits to improve on what we have. We have managed over 24 years to get to the point where all our cria are born under 20 microns. We select to move forward with alpacas who have longevity of fineness and select males who can add density to our program at every opportunity. The increase in quality of offspring is not as dramatic as in those early days but as long as we continue to improve the fleece quality of the herd in total as we move forward then I will be happy. What has been your proudest moment as an alpaca owner? There have been many proud moments. So many that I can’t really select a singly defining moment. I have loved being an alpaca owner, breeder and judge and hope to continue for many years to come. Being part of the team hosting The World Alpaca Conference in Oxford was a very proud moment. I suppose most of all I am proud of what we have achieved at Toft over almost a quarter of a century of breeding alpacas. I am so grateful for the way in which our alpacas have enriched our lives and those of our children. I am exceptionally proud of what our daughter Kerry has achieved in the world of craft. I feel especially proud when I walk into the hall at the BAS Nationals and see what our amazing community of devotees has achieved in such a short space of time. I am very proud to be an alpaca owner and have almost no regrets!
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
WHY SHOW? PART TWO
Breeders are hoping alpacas will return to show rings across the country later this year. For the alpaca community shows are a shop window where owners can meet, have fun and learn, says BAS board member Judith Newman, Angersleigh Alpacas.
ike many people Judith saw her first alpacas at a local agricultural show, writes Liz Mason, BAS Alpaca editor. “I had a rural upbringing, and I also worked on a farm and agricultural shows were always a highlight of the year. “Shows are where the farming community in particular have the opportunity to get together, check out the livestock and see how their own animals are measuring up against their neighbours.” Agricultural shows are built into rural life for many farmers and rural communities, Judith adds. “In the early days the Bath and West Show was not far from where I lived, and Honiton Show in Devon was fairly local to us and that’s where I came across my first alpacas.” After taking early retirement Judith was able to realise a long held dream to own a cottage with some land allowing her to keep donkeys rehomed from a sanctuary. But after seeing her first alpacas she decided to buy a couple as pets. She visited several breeders and bought two pregnant females with the prospect of newborn cria to add to the excitement. “I thought that would be it when the cria arrived. We would then have our little group of pet alpacas, but of course it never stops there,” Judith adds. Visits to more shows led to the arrival of more “adorable” alpacas as Judith, and husband Gary, became more interested in breeding. Judith says: “When you go to a show you become aware that there is much bigger world out there, and there are many beautiful alpacas in lots of colours. “As you see more alpacas you decide you want to improve your own. You become more competitive and, once you start breeding, you also want to measure how you are doing against other breeders.”
Local shows attract new owners
Overseas travel to visit herds in Peru, New Zealand or Australia allows some breeders to assess a wider range of quality alpacas. But for those with smaller herds and perhaps smaller pockets local shows, and the BAS National Show, offer a chance to see more alpacas from breeders closer to home. In normal years Judith helps Garry Naish, Oak View Alpacas, organise the annual North Somerset
50 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Show, which is a “a brilliant show” for smaller breeders and new owners, she says. “The number of alpacas each breeder is allowed to enter is limited which means most owners bring only three or four alpacas and this encourages new owners who may be thinking about entering their first show. Yes, people want to do well but the show has a nice, relaxed atmosphere and you also get to know other owners. It’s a great way to dip your toe in the water to see if showing is for you” Helping to organise a show, set up or steward on the day, is also a good way to learn, meet other owners and make lasting friends and support showing. Soon after she joined the South West Alpaca Group (SWAG) Judith helped at an autumn show organised by Di Davies from Alpha Alpacas. “You start to see how things work and how a show comes together and without volunteers stepping forward to help we can’t hold shows which are the biggest shop window we have for all our alpacas.” Judith continues to help at SWAG shows and organises the group’s annual fleece show. “It is a lot of work. When you see a halter show you can see the work that has gone into it but when you see fleece show you can’t really appreciate all the work it takes to organise, check in, weigh and transport more than a hundred plus fleeces.” The rewards, particularly the strong friendships built among show helpers make the hard work worthwhile. Rosettes and ribbons are great as who wouldn’t want to win but it is not everything and you have to keep a balanced perspective. Judith hopes outdoor halter shows will go ahead later this year and give Angersleigh Alpacas the opportunity to compete again. “Honiton Show in Devon was our first show and although the alpacas we had at the time were not the best quality we won a colour championship. We took the cria from our original pregnant females and one won the brown colour championship and we just could not believe it. It was just so exciting. “ And that is what makes showing special – each day is different. When you enter the ring and find yourself placed in a line of similar quality animals, with little to choose between each one, there is no guarantee that the judge will decide it is your day to bring home a ribbon. As Judith says: “It’s just the way it falls and if you keep that in mind you can still have fun.”
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JUNIOR HANDLERS A lpaca ownership is often a family affair with youngsters lending a hand at home or demonstrating their handling skills at shows. To acknowledge the younger generation of alpaca enthusiasts we launched a junior handlers photography competition judged by BAS CEO Duncan Pullar. The winning entry is from Ken Freivokh (Artwork Alpacas) featuring Rosie Payne at the BAS National Show with a Suri alpaca from her parents’ West Wight alpaca herd on the Isle of Wight.
Second is an entry from Abbey Kite taken at the BAS National Show; it captures the close bond between alpaca and expert junior handler. Third is a photograph taken by Tracey Fritschy featuring seven year old Dolly. Dolly visited the alpacas at High Easter with her Grandma; her favourite was Sangria as she is so pretty and the youngest at only 18 months. Thank you to all who entered and to BAS for donating prizes to the winning entries. First place receives free BAS membership for year; second and third receive £50 and £25 credited to their BAS account.
Ken Freivokh (Artwork Alpacas) featuring Rosie Payne
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THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
Having enjoyed a busy first year on the judging circuit, BAS judge Roger Clarke consoles us on the absence of the much loved halter show by encouraging us to take the plunge, or at least dip our toes, into the into the wonderful world of fleece showing. › Roger after judging the Royal Three Counties Fleece Show
lobally revered as the ‘fibre of the gods’, alpaca fleece has long been prized for its many desirable properties and is used by a wide range of devotees; from cottage industry artisans to those in the commercial fashion industry. As such, I feel that it is incredibly important that breeders and other members of the alpaca industry have a clear understanding of the nature of what constitutes ‘desirable fleece traits’ and the impact that such traits can have on the commercial viability and value of their alpaca’s fleece. In my view, entering and consequently, receiving feedback from a judged fleece show, offers just that opportunity. So you’ve entered a fleece show… It’s quite understandable that the reasons for entering a fleece show will vary from exhibitor to exhibitor and will depend on people’s individual contexts. Despite the reasons however, one thing rings true; all of those who enter, will receive an appraisal of their fibre characteristics…knowledge that can then be
54 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
used or applied as the individual sees fit. This information may be used in lots of different ways and again depends on the individual farm and their context. It might, for instance, be used to help breeders track their progress either for a specific trait, to bench mark themselves at a particular level of development or to help identify strengths and/or areas for development in terms of their future breeding goals. Such feedback may also have a hand in helping to determine the end use, level of processing and quality of products made from the fibre itself.
Preparation is key
Fleeces entered into a show usually comprise of the prime blanket fleece that has undergone some level of preparation by way of skirting. Although, I would go as far as to say that preparation quite often begins before shearing, when animals might spend a period of time in a clean paddock or area that may help minimise the environmental impact on the fleece.
As a process, skirting involves the removal of any undesirable elements such as; unwanted fibre (coarser fibre, colour spots etc.), vegetable matter and any other foreign bodies. Here the overall aim is to help the fleece be shown and judged to its best advantage. While I firmly believe that preparation is key, it is also worth noting the importance of striking a balance, as ‘over preparation’ can, in fact, have a detrimental impact on a fleece’s feedback. Such over preparation may include practices such as over skirting as well as other more abrasive and potentially disqualifiable routines such as trimming, brushing and washing.
So what’s it all about?
Before judging, fleeces entered for showing are organised and sorted for competition in terms of breed type (Huacaya and Suri), age and colour. The judging process itself involves the systematic approach of an absolute scoring process; that of assigning points to a series of characteristics that are of economic importance. The process is designed to ensure that each fleece is assessed individually, with points being allocated for the virtue of each characteristic. The characteristics involved for Huacaya are those of; fineness and handle, uniformity of micron, length and colour, character, staple type/density, brightness, lack of guard hair, lack of impurities and clean fleece weight. Similarly, the characteristics involved for Suri are those of; fineness and handle, uniformity of micron, length and colour, style and character, density, lustre, lack of guard hair, lack of impurities and clean fleece weight. When considering each of the characteristics in turn, you will notice that each are important in terms of processing and therefore, economics, as each will contribute to determining the overall quality of the end product.
The judging process explained
With a fleece presented before me, I begin my judging process by selecting six samples of fibre from across the blanket, while ensuring at least one is extracted from the mid-side. This mid side sample is them fanned out across a dual coloured card (black and white), allowing me to make a visual assessment of the micron. Whilst doing this, it is always important to maintain the integrity of the fleece and to select the samples with care. A total of 15 points are allocated to fineness and the score takes into account the fineness displayed across the entire fleece, thus serving to highlight the importance of pre-show preparation. Up next is the characteristic described as ‘handle’. Here, I am making an overall assessment of the relative degree of softness displayed by the fleece, with the addition of the degree of coolness exhibited, in the case of a Suri. Influenced by both age and micron (including uniformity of micron), a total of five marks are available for handle, and again, a lack of preparation can have a detrimental effect on your potential score. Following handle, consideration is given to ‘Uniformity of Micron’, where a total of 10 points are available. This is a measure of the evenness of fineness throughout the entire fleece, a trait that is once again strongly influenced by the degree of preparation. As you will appreciate, when you have two fleeces that are of equal quality, the better skirted fleece will always score higher. The next set of 10 points are awarded in relation to ‘Uniformity of Length’. Here samples are lined up side by side to allow for a visual assessment of the uniformity of fleece length across the entire blanket. Consideration is being given to the commercial lengths for processing and a poorly shorn or poorly prepared fleece is likely to have much less uniformity of length than a fleece that has been carefully shorn and skirted. Fleece length must be a minimum of two inches for Huacaya and three inches for Suri and a maximum of six inches for Huacaya and 18 inches for Suri. Uniformity of colour or the evenness and regularity of colour throughout the entire fleece, is marked out of five points and is again a very important trait in terms of processing and economic value. Character and style (10 points) and density (five points) are also very important and are quite often linked as indicator traits of quality. In both cases, a visual and tactile assessment are made when allocating points. Continued on the next page >>
› The transition line where the fibre begins
to coarsen towards the edge of the blanket
› A fleece displaying a low level of colour uniformity Alpaca Yearbook 2021
› Fibre sample showing the presence of guard hair
› A fleece with a lot of contaminants including vegetable matter (VM)
The next trait to be considered involves a measure of the reflection that << occurs when the light hits the fleece, that of brightness for Huacaya (10 points) and lustre for Suri (20 points). In order to make my assessment, I prefer to take both a visual and tactile approach, by extracting a sample and moving it in the light. This helps to identify the sample’s positioning and place, along what is in essence, a brightness/lustre continuum. As we near the end, the next quality to be considered, is that of the presence of guard hair (five points for Suri/10 points for Huacaya). Whilst almost all fleeces will exhibit some degree of guard hair or medullation, a poorly prepared (skirted) fleece has the potential to contain a higher content. Medullated fibres can have a negative impact on both the handle as well as various aspects of processing including the absorption of dyes and so, as in the case of the aforementioned traits, this one will have a significant and direct effect on the quality of any processed fibre and ultimately the end product. The penultimate fibre trait to be judged is that involving ‘lack of impurities/ stain/tip damage’ (five points). Here, many different elements are considered, all of them being relevant to the processing potential of the fleece. This includes how clean and free from contaminants the fleece is and how sound/strong the fibre is etc. In addition to contaminants, an assessment of the soundness of the fibre is also a necessity. This involves a ‘hands on’ method of checking whether or not the
56 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
fleece sample with good uniformity of micron
› Prepared fleece bagged and ready for the show
fleece is tender. If tenderness is found, the varying degrees will result in a loss of marks, in both this category as well as in its uniformity of length score. Similarly, a further aspect for consideration within this category is that of ‘cotting’ (matting). A cotted fleece will receive no marks at this stage, whilst a partially cotted fleece will receive between 0-2 marks. It is therefore, pertinent to consider the overall state and soundness of a fleece, when choosing whether or not to enter it into a fleece show. Finally then, the tenth and last category for judging is that of the ‘clean fleece weight’ (15 points). In this respect, the weight of a fleece is annualised in order to ascertain a weight and consequent score, for a given growth period. Here, unskirted fleeces may achieve a greater weight score but as you’ll now appreciate from the aforementioned, they WILL be penalised in so many other areas!
Give it a go
With the lack of halter show opportunities, I hope the above might give you some encouragement to give a fleece show a go! This serves as a guide, detailing some elements of how a fleece is judged and how the judged characteristics feature as a focus, economically. If it’s your first time, don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the idea of having to present a perfectly prepared fleece. Make your first objective to have fun, and use the feedback you receive as the first building block towards achieving your future goals!
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ave you ever sold an alpaca only to regret the sale on the journey home, asks specialist black Huacaya breeder Lynn Pepper, Taiwind Alpacas? This happened to me many years ago. I needed a good clear out of males as I had far too many hanging around. With space always tight on four acres I decided I needed to have some castrated to sell as nonbreeding males in pairs, or as a three to reduce the numbers. One of the males I decided to castrate and sell was Charlie. I had bought him after a visit to an alpaca breeder who had some black females I wanted to buy. But what caught my eye was this tiny white ball of fluff with a very cheeky face underneath. I fell in love and had to have him, and as he was only four months old I bought him and his mum. I ended up paying £3,000 for him – a white alpaca, along with two lovely black females I may add. In those days you could register the cria under your own stud name because he was still with his mum. So, Taiwind Champagne Charlie was named, weaned, halter trained and taken to shows where although impeccably behaved he came away with no ribbons. But it was always a good day out for all; Charlie loved the fuss and enjoyed the adoring public – a true show off. When I decided to sell Charlie he was on offer for several months, however with no buyers, and too many males, Charlie was one of the unlucky few to have an appointment with the vet. And ‘sod’s law’ within 14 days I had a phone call from someone asking about this friendly white stud male I had for sale – too late!
Blooming good poo
Charlie was good as gold on the lead; we used to visit schools, give talks and let the children pat the alpacas. Apart from this one time at a junior school when his alpaca mate unhooked his lead and ran off around the playing field. Charlie thought this looked fun and pulled away to follow his mate around a football pitch much to the amusement of the laughing school children. They thought it was such a great sight and were amused to discover alpacas could run so much faster than their owner. He always managed to have his photograph in the local paper at some event or other. As well as schools and workshops, he visited a disabled centre and a painting class and loved to go over the road to the pub. The pub "over the road" won best pub in bloom in the south west and
58 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Charlie comes home
› Lynn Pepper with Taiwind Champagne Charlie outside the "pub over the road"
the reason? It was all down to the alpaca poo provided from Charlie and his mates from "over the road". When the photographer from the local paper arrived he stood tall outside the pub for his photo shoot – an ambassador for alpacas.
Soon after I had a phone call from some people wanting a very friendly alpaca and I thought Charlie fitted the bill. The man said he intended to take the alpaca to his childrens’ school and had other alpacas but they were not halter trained. So, happy to sell another castrated male I delivered Charlie. I was so glad that I had sold another boy – or was I? I stopped the van pulled over and rang a friend. “I have just sold Charlie and I can’t stop thinking about him and his new home. I think I’ve made a mistake" “Too late,” she said. “You have the money and he is sold.” But niggling thoughts entered my head. I didn’t see any haybarn and thinking back there was no field shelter. He loves his hay, and the grass and what if it rains? Had I been in too much of a rush? Charlie is a kind male and I owed it to him to find him a good home. Within an hour I had rang the new owners pleading with them that I had made a big mistake and wanted to buy him back. I am heartbroken and I gave a sob hoping that would clinch it. The new owners said no worries have him back and within two hours Charlie was home in his old paddock with his old mates doing what he does best EATING. I am sure he thought
he’d had been on holiday (this was before TB testing). I thought old Charlie didn’t have a use any more but over many years he proved his worth tenfold. He was the best companion to the male weanlings I've ever had and every year he would have a new crop of youngsters to deal with. He was very tolerant and kind and would put up with their boyish antics. He was the best paddock mate they could have and grow up with. Now he has earnt his retirement and has a peaceful life with his best mate Warlock although, if needs be, I will put the odd young male in with them.
I feel very upset when I see old alpacas advertised for sale, male or female. (It’s alright when they are part of a family group for sale and the new owner knows how to look after the older alpaca). But I feel so sorry for older stud males who generally are sold on their own. Please make sure if you do sell older alpacas that they go to very responsible owners. Don’t forget you are taking them away from all they have known, especially when they were born on your farm, and do not know anything else – their safe surroundings, their routine, their security, their friends. Moral to this story – every older alpaca, male or female, has a place in the family herd. As I write I can see dear Charlie head down, happy and doing what he does best – EATING.
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UNDERSTANDING OBJECTIVE FLEECE DATA › New Zealand workshop
Dani Allen from Art Of Fibre tests fleece samples
ate in 2020, Art Of Fibre (formerly AAFT) conducted a survey with its customers on how it might best service their fleece testing requirements. One of the key findings was that many breeders had some difficulties understanding their fibre analysis results, and asked us to address this anomaly. It makes a lot of sense for those involved in producing natural fibre to develop their understanding of objective fleece data as this information can be used to identify their most valuable fleeces. More importantly, it also provides an insight into the genetic potential of breeding stock with regard to their ability to breed progeny most likely to produce luxurious and highly desired fleeces. The following is a short guide to the terminology used in fibre measurement and how we interpret that information.
CVD (Coefficient of Variation of Diameter)
CF (Comfort Factor)
Mic Dev (Micron Deviation)
CEM (Coarse Edge Micron)
Unit of measurement for describing diameter of fibre. 1,000 microns = one millimetre. Fibre diameter is the single most important fibre trait with regard to commercial processing. It is also one of the most heritable fibre traits. Fibre diameter is the most significant price driver for natural fibres. Fibre diameter, however, is heavily influenced by nutritional intake, with variations of up to 12 microns being recorded over a single growing season.
The extent to which a sample deviates from the herd’s/mob’s average.
SD (Standard Deviation of fibre diameter)
A measurement to indicate the degree of variation in fibre diameter within a fibre sample. One standard deviation is how far from the average you need to go to capture about two thirds of the sample. For example, a fibre sample has an average diameter of 20.0 microns with a SD of 5.0 microns. In this case, about two thirds of the fibres in the sample are between 15.0 and 25.0 microns. The lower the SD, the less variation in fibre diameter. SD is the preferred measurement for determining fibre diameter variation on individual animals. Animals with low SD generally have
60 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
a greater predictability with regard to progeny’s fibre traits, softer handle, greater tensile strength, and less variation over the fleece area. Fleeces with low SD are also inclined to result in superior processing. Fibres within a sample vary in two ways. Along the fibre, which is influenced by nutrition/environmental factors, and between fibres which is influenced by genetics.
Is the standard deviation expressed as a % of the sample’s average. For example, if the average diameter is 20.0 microns with a SD of 5.0 microns, the CVD is 25.0%. (5/20 x 100). CV is used when comparing the degree of variation between two different types of data, for example, comparing variation in the value of different currencies. It should not be used when appraising fleece data.
Percent of fibres in a sample that are equal to or less than 30 microns. Fibres greater than 30 microns are generally responsible for the prickle sensation when worn next to the skin. To increase the comfort factor, we breed to lower average diameter (microns) and also breed to lower SD. The lower the average diameter and the lower the variation in diameter, the lower the number of fibres above 30 microns, the more luxurious the fleece.
The distance (in microns) between the average diameter and the finest extremity of the coarsest 5% of fibres. This is commonly used to evaluate the prevalence of primary fibres within a sample.
The percent of fibres in a sample less than 15 microns.
CRV (Fibre curvature)
Expressed in degrees/millimetre. Generally, higher curvature is associated with higher crimp frequency. Continued on the next page >>
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Points to remember
• Fibre diameter is generally the most important trait for commercial processing. It is also one of the most heritable fibre traits allowing significant genetic gain over generations. It is also the most significant price driver for natural fibre. • To select breeding alpacas, SD (Standard Deviation) is as important as fibre diameter if breeding for quality
Photo: Shamarra Alpaca, New Zealand
fleeces. • When reading fibre test results, look at the SD rather than the CV. • When purchasing an alpaca, always ask for the SD. If the vender knows the micron, then they know the SD. • Incorrect sampling technique can have a detrimental effect on the eventual test result. We often see dramatic changes in fibre traits from one season to the next mainly because of a change with the location from where the fibre sample was taken. • Seek the advice of an Art Of Fibre technician in order to effectively interpret results (email@example.com)
SF (Spin Fineness)
Calculation using micron and CVD to represent the spinning quality.
A linear graph showing the variation in fibre diameter along the fibre staple/ sample (environmental influence on fibre growth). Can be used for analysing the nutritional intake over the growing season. Micron profiles are read left (tip or commencement of growing season) to right (base of the sample or most recent growth).
A bar graph depicting the distribution of average fibre diameter of the individual fibres within the sample. On the vertical (y) axis of the graph is the micron of the fibre counts. On the horizontal (x) axis is the frequency of distribution of those fibres counted. Put simply, the narrower the spread of the histogram, the less variation in diameter of the fibres. This equates with low SD and something to breed towards.
Staple (sample) length expressed in millimetres.
The broadest point along the staple, expressed in microns.
The finest point along the staple, expressed in microns.
FPFT (Finest point from the tip)
Millimetres from the tip to the finest point in the staple. An indicator for the ‘point of break’.
MFE (Mean fibre ends)
The average fibre diameter of the fibre ends [tip and base] expressed in microns.
62 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
The estimated length of fibres after scouring, carding and combing. As a rule, the two most important properties of wool for processors are diameter & hauteur. Example of two sets of results including data, histograms and micron profiles. Analysis of the results follows below.
Analysis of two fibre test examples
Note that age is taken into account for more detailed fibre analysis, however, for the purpose of these examples, we shall assume both are around 2 to 4 years. Top example (Alpaca1): The average fibre diameter for the overall sample is 27.3 microns. The histogram shows high variation of diameter of individual fibres, ranging from 14 microns to 50 microns, giving a range of 36 microns. For this reason, the SD is relatively high at 5.1 microns, (2/3 of the fibres are between 22.2 microns and 32.4 microns). The comfort factor is 75.4%, meaning 24.6% of fibres are greater than 30 microns. The fibre from this alpaca would have a prickle feel if worn next to the skin. The micron profile shows the sample’s average diameter at the commencement of the growing season is about 23 microns, then rising sharply to about 31 microns before fining down to about 27 microns at about the time the sample was taken. This profile indicates the level of nutrition being absorbed
About the author
Paul Vallely is the owner of Art Of Fibre (AOF). AOF operates fibre testing laboratories in the EU and UK. Over the past 30 years, Paul has owned and managed a 3000 head superfine merino operation, established and managed a wool supply chain from Australia to Italy, established Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing, Premium Alpaca fleece collection scheme, Ultrafine Alpaca Scheme and has been involved in animal fibre research and development projects.
by the fibre follicles rising dramatically over the first third of the growing season, then dropping until about the time the sample was taken. The rise in microns might be a result of increased quality and/or quantity of feed. The subsequent drop in microns might be a result of worm infestation, reduction in quality and/or quantity of feed or ill health. This test result indicates the alpaca is not considered superior for breeding towards high value fleece production. The current fleece would not be suitable for luxurious end products. Note that if the fleece sample was tested at the ‘butt end’ or most recently grown 5mm, then the fibre test result would indicate average diameter at about 23 microns, yet the true average for the sample is 27.3 microns. Bottom example (Alpaca2): The average fibre diameter for the overall sample is 15.7 microns. As can be seen with the histogram, most of the fibres are centred close to the mean diameter as there is little variation in fibre diameter. Almost all fibres are between 9 microns and 28 microns, (range of 19 microns). This alpaca has a low SD of 3.3 microns, (2/3 of fibres are between 12.4 microns and 19.0 microns). As all fibres are below 30 microns, the Comfort Factor is 100%, and therefore this fleece would feel soft and luxurious. The micron profile shows a gradual increase in fibre diameter over the growing season. The average diameter is about 14 microns at the start of the season and finishes at about 19 microns. This indicates a gradual increase in the quality and/ or quantity of feed. The results indicate this sample is from an alpaca considered superior for breeding towards high-value fleeces, although this would rely on the alpaca possessing sound physical attributes such as desirable frame. NB – An alpaca possessing unsound physical attributes may result in inefficient conversion of feed to nutrition, thereby rendering the fibre of low micron in the same way as reduced availability of feed results in low microns. Note that the CV for Alpaca2 is 21.2%, which is higher than Alpaca1 at 18.7% even though Alpaca2 has much less variation. This is because CV reduces as average diameter increases.
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BEGINNERS: STARTING OUT
Am I right for alpacas and how do I buy the right ones for me? Asking the right questions is essential before buying your first alpacas. In this article Di Davies, Alpha Alpacas, shares her experience.
021 sees Di celebrate 21 years as an alpaca owner; she has won numerous show awards and sold hundreds of alpacas. In 2020 she marked a new milestone when Alpha’s 200th cria was born on the West Dorset farm. Her advice is based on solid practical experience and a love for alpacas. Many potential clients will have met Alpha Alpacas either at an alpaca show, or more often at an agricultural show or other event where we have the Alpha trade stand selling our alpaca products, writes Di. We also always have three young alpacas at shows for our visitors to be fascinated by, and frequently fall in love with, and want to learn more with a view to joining the fantastic world of alpaca ownership. Alpacas are a niche market livestock giving owners with limited land the ability to establish a potential business or enjoy the animals as pets or working protection animals, mainly against foxes, therapy animals or to run alpaca walking experiences. However, the major role of alpacas in the UK is as fibre
64 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
producers and they produce one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. Time is always at a premium at shows so I suggest to people that if they would like to learn more they are most welcome to book a visit to see our farm. We normally have about 50 alpacas on farm, 30 of whom are breeding females and in the summer/autumn many will have cria (babies) at foot.
Meeting different needs
A visit will help to confirm why you would like to have alpacas as different alpacas fulfil different needs: • If you have a small lot of land (¾ acre to an acre of grass), they are a good alternative to a ride on mower saving time spent on riding around on a mower consuming both your time and fuel, and doing the work while you just sit and enjoy them and their antics. Fleece quality for four legged mowers may not be a major factor but healthy alpacas is a definite must. Continued on the next page >>
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
BEGINNERS: STARTING OUT • If you have several acres and are looking for a long term investment as a small scale breeder the prices achieved for sales will depend on the quality of the fibre and colours. Key to success for such a small herd is excellent conformation (structure and skeletal features). • Do you have an ambition to become immersed in the alpaca world and breed top quality show winners? In this case quality is key; both conformation and fleece quality should be the main drivers of your potential purchase. • Do you have chickens, water fowl or sheep who lamb outside, where alpacas can be used as effective guards? With vision that is five times stronger than the human eye and a strong herd instinct to protect anything smaller alpacas are ideal for preventing attacks by marauding foxes. Foxes, when not so cunning, can end up dead in your field stamped on by a protection alpaca while his or her two companions round up the stock like a pair of sheep dogs! Males are normally used in this role, but it is also a suitable role for non-breeding females. • Are you involved in the tourist industry and have a spare paddock to graze alpacas as an attraction or to offer alpaca walking or wedding attendants? Alternatively, alpacas are increasingly popular as therapy animals, visiting special schools or residential homes where they quickly develop a great affinity with the residents. Thy have been particularly successful in dementia care.
Other factors you should consider before buying alpacas: • The amount and quality of grazing you have available. • Your budget as the cost of alpacas depends on their role, sex, and quality of conformation and fibre. You will also need fencing and some sort of field shelter.
66 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
• Alpaca husbandry is straightforward, but they must be checked regularly to ensure they have the basics of food (grass/hay/supplement when the grass is poor) shelter and all are behaving normally. • Alpacas are herd animals and are happiest kept in a group of a minimum of three. They will live happily with sheep, goats and horses who are unshod, as the flying hoof or a horse kicking a sheared alpaca can cause fatal injuries. However, either side of a fence, horses and ponies get on well with alpacas. • While it depends slightly on the quality of your land on average alpacas can be kept at the same stocking ratio as sheep that is between three and five per acre. They are good grazers, who must have continual access to hay to keep their digestive system working smoothly • We work on the principle that each alpaca eats five to six small bales of hay per year. Supplementary feeding of breeding stock is advisable all year and when the grass is of poor quality. However, the percentage of hard feed required to sustain a healthy alpaca is very small when compared to other livestock. All alpacas sold by Alpha Alpacas are halter trained so they are easy to handle. Alpacas are also very good with children and will get to know and accept your other pets. They are very inquisitive by nature so if you are in their field they will always come to see what you are doing. All new clients are invited to spend a minimum of half a day on the farm learning basic husbandry before they take possession of their herd. Pre-sale consultancy is also offered if requested on the set up of fencing and other requirements. We are a BAS training affiliated farm so more advanced courses are available if you are intending to become a breeder or simply wish to learn a lot more about alpacas and meet fellow alpaca owners.
BEGINNERS: STARTING OUT
BUYING YOUR FIRST ALPACAS
BAS board member Kate Brookes, Mullacott Alpacas, takes us through the essential questions you need to ask before buying your first alpacas. Kate is a regular contributor to Alpaca and author of a series of ‘Practical management’ articles. I am thinking of getting some alpacas, how much land do I need? You need at least an acre of grazing for three alpacas – they should not be kept in groups of less than three, as they need to be part of a herd to feel safe. Larger herds, with more land, can be stocked at more than three per acre, but the more heavily you stock, the more time you will need to spend keeping the pasture in top condition and well poo picked. What else will I need for them? They should have a shelter, so they can get out of the rain and wind, although many alpacas choose not to go into them! They need a place where you will feed them daily, ideally this will be in or close to a catch pen (eight foot by eight foot is ideal) so that you are able to get close to them for checking, catching and routine husbandry. The catch pen could be in the shelter. They will need somewhere where hay (or haylage) is available for them at all times, in addition to grazing, and this will need to be kept dry or changed regularly to prevent it starting to rot. How do I choose the right alpacas? Before you buy any alpacas, I would recommend that your visit three or four herds, learn what you like and don’t like. Trusting the person you are buying from is really important, so that you know you will have ongoing support from them. Alpacas live for around 20 years, so you want to get the right ones for your plans, as well as ones you want to live with! What are you intending to do with your alpacas? The first thing to decide is what you are intending to use them for. Trekking alpacas need to be very reliable when handled. Chicken/lamb guards need to have the right temperament to chase off foxes, not all will do this. If you want
to show your alpacas, you will be looking for excellent conformation and fibre. If your alpacas are for fibre production, then your full focus will be on the fibre. Breeding alpacas need to be as free as possible from hereditary defects and so on. It is very tempting to buy the first one that comes up and gives you a kiss, but if not suitable for your purposes, harden your heart! What different sorts of alpacas are there? There are Suri alpacas (these have fibre that hangs in dreadlocks) and Huacaya alpacas (these are often described as looking like a teddy bear!) Both types of alpacas come in a huge range of colours, from white to black, with every shade of brown in between, as well all shades of grey and rose grey. They also come with spots, areas of a different colour, and many other markings. Traditionally, solid colours are preferred for fibre mills and wholesale fibre purchasers, but handspinners and crafters are often very keen to have fleeces with varied colours in them. Should I buy males or females? Alpacas need to be kept in single sex groups as the mating practices of males, even castrated ones (also known as wethers), are very intrusive and repeated mating may cause serious injury to a female. Males are generally cheaper, but males or females can be used for fibre and to guard or trek. Pregnant females will not be suitable for trekking with the public, especially in the last few months of pregnancy or when they are nursing a cria. If you are planning on breeding, consider whether owning your own stud male will be the best option. It may be the cheapest, but he could not be used on his own daughters in years to come. When you are buying a stud male, always buy the best you can afford, as he will be passing his attributes on to many offspring,
whereas the female will only be having a maximum of one cria a year. Remember, if you are buying males and females you will need at least three of each, so they can live in separate herds and you will require good fencing between paddocks if they need to share a fence line. How do I find alpacas that are for sale? There are many places where alpacas are advertised. Selling of animals on Facebook is not permitted, but sometimes people post in alpaca groups that their animals are available. There are websites, such as www.alpacafinder.co.uk where alpacas are advertised. You may also find alpacas for sale in advertising forums, such as preloved. You may prefer to approach local breeders to see if they have alpacas available. Try to find alpacas where you know/can find out their history, as their nutrition and care in previous years may affect their general health. Buying alpacas registered with the British Alpaca Society (BAS) will allow you to research their family tree and know where and when they were bred. Older alpacas that have not been handled much, may be quite difficult to train, but with skill and patience a reasonable level of training can usually be achieved. Prices vary considerably, but if you are new to alpacas consider the advantages of buying from an established herd owner, who should give ongoing advice and support with your animals. What else do I need to know before I buy? You will need to know about their daily care, what to feed them, basic health checks, the mineral and vitamin supplements that they must have and also the husbandry they will need over the course of the year (such as vaccinations, faecal testing, toenail and teeth trimming, shearing etc). The best way to learn this is to go on a training course. The BAS has affiliates running courses all over the country; you can find details under welfare and education on the website. If you buy from a reputable breeder, they should also be willing to give advice, but I personally find that the process of selecting and buying alpacas is far too exciting to make it a good time to learn all about their care! You may also want to learn how to headcollar them, train them to walk on a lead and how to handle them for husbandry tasks, again the BAS has modules
covering these areas, as well as fibre, conformation, breeding, marketing and almost all other aspects of buying and owning alpacas. What heath issues do I need to be aware of? You should always ask questions before you buy, to make sure you are buying healthy alpacas. They don’t show pain or illness until they are really quite ill, so if you see something that concerns you, you need to find out more about what is wrong. Find out about the usual husbandry regime for the herd where the alpaca is. Alpacas should be vaccinated at least annually, be given additional vitamins over the winter and fed a camelid specific mineral supplement daily. Routine worming is not advised for alpacas and instead individual faecal tests should be completed with worming only undertaken when necessary, so ask about the herd worming protocol. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and Johne’s Disease should also be something that you enquire about. Does the herd routinely undertake voluntary tests? Do they post-mortem deaths to check for disease, even if the cause of death is known? Has the herd any history of these diseases? What is the farm biosecurity like? Decide if you would like the alpacas voluntary tested for these diseases, and/or examined by a vet, before you move them to your land. Don’t be too embarrassed to ask questions – it is only by asking that you will find out the information that is important to you. What guarantees and paperwork should I have? You should buy alpacas registered with BAS, and there is a code of conduct on the website for BAS members selling alpacas. Alpacas do not have to have ear tags, but registered alpacas will have been microchipped. They should be transferred to you by the seller. Only the breeder can register an alpaca with the BAS. You should get a record of their husbandry showing any medication and other treatments they have been given. When you are buying pregnant alpacas or alpacas to be used for breeding, ask for the agreement, made with the seller about what will happen if they are not pregnant/able to breed, to be in writing. Health Warning – alpacas are addictive – you may not stop at just three!
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
BEGINNERS: STARTING OUT
ALPACAS LEAD THE WAY
BAS board member Clara Boulton shares her alpaca journey which has seen her, and partner Shaun, turn passion for alpacas into a trekking business at Natterjack Alpacas in West Lancashire.
lara and Shaun bought their first three alpacas four years ago to protect their rare breed poultry, writes Alpaca editor Liz Mason. They started with a male and two females. But after finding out that alpacas must be kept in single sex groups of at least three animals Clara acquired friends for her single boy and two girls. By 2017 Natterjack Alpacas included a breeding herd of 16 alpacas, a stud male and four pet boys. “We convinced ourselves for a long time that it was just going to be a hobby,” Clara says. “Initially we had a castrated male and two females and it was brilliant for me when I found that you shouldn’t keep males and females together. “Shaun could see what was going to happen when I found 12 acres and barns, and with the males and females kept separately the herd managed to expand twice as quickly.”
70 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Clara works on a dairy farm and with several dogs and an interest in horses the couple both enjoy outdoor life. “We were looking for something different and as we started to build the herd, and make friends with other breeders I planned to have a small breeding herd as a hobby to cover at least some of the costs.” One they had started breeding the couple found they had “gathered quite a few pet males” and they decided to start treks with the spare boys. “With 12 acres we were fairly limited because we sublet a lot of our land to horse owners. So, we decided to ask local farmers and we came across a lovely farm with a private farm track that we were allowed to use for alpaca treks. “At the time we had only four or five walking boys and we thought they could pay for themselves by doing walks. But it was really hard at first,” Clara says. Continued on the next page >>
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Alpaca Yearbook 2021
<< The couple were getting up at 6 o’clock each day to get the alpacas ready and travel to the farm. The treks became easier to manage when they were given the use of four acres of land at the farm, but the business was not attracting as many bookings as they would have liked.
Social media breakthrough
A breakthrough came after the couple took the alpacas to several local events and visited care homes. The visits were shared on Facebook and care home staff, who wanted to spend more time with the alpacas, booked walks with their families. “We had around 3000 likes by November 2019 and the first lockdown in March was make or break for us,” Clara says. During lockdown people turned to social media for entertainment and the number of Facebook likes for their posts increased. When Natterjack Alpacas were allowed to open in July, Clara and Shaun began by offering four or five private treks a day for individual households. Clara expected only one or two bookings but within days the treks were almost fully booked for summer. “It was absolutely chaotic,” she says. “I am just delighted that people want to come and spend time with our alpacas and the novelty has still not worn off. I also feel quite humble because we love our alpacas and whenever anyone says anything nice about them we are filled with a sense of pride. We are just so obsessed with alpacas and so excited to hear that people want to come and spend time with them.”
Learning the ropes
Clara enjoys the treks but hopes to move the business more towards more therapy work in future. “It is the best feeling ever taking an alpaca to a care home and the visits are as much for the staff as for the residents as they are so emotionally drained. “We have visited a lot of dementia care homes and often these visits turn out to be the best. People underestimate how important it is for the families as the visits are an opportunity to make a memory.” Two ladies with Tourette’s syndrome, a condition that causes them to make involuntary tics which can either be sounds or movements, are regular visitors. One has quite a severe condition but when she met one of the therapy alpacas, who walked over to her, her tics stopped for the entire time she was with the alpaca, Clara says.
“I know when I am fed up the alpacas react but they seem to know the difference between someone who is fed up and someone who has dementia or Tourette’s. That is such a special quality and something that the care homes have also picked up on during our visits.” The couple have discovered that particular alpacas are more suited to therapy work and when they started trekking some of their animals were not keen. “When we started we didn’t have huge amounts of money to invest so we bought cheaper, older males. The breeder told us that she had done nothing with them but they should be suitable for trekking. “One of them was fine with us but then when you gave him to someone else he just sat down. Another one had a bit of a karate kick and would occasionally and sporadically kick. The other was the most amazing walker but as he didn't like to be touched and our lovely stud is so relaxed that he didn't see the point in walking, he let us know that it wasn’t for him. “I don’t think we appreciated at the beginning how different they were going to be as individuals. But that is also what I love about alpacas and they make it very clear to you by their behaviour how they want to be handled. “That is also what we have loved about trekking. People have come away with a huge appreciation for how different each alpaca is. There isn’t one alpaca among our team of twelve that is more popular than another, and as each one is an individual they appeal to everyone.” Overall, the business has grown with the alpacas they have and their individual characters. “Our journey has been dictated by the alpacas that we happened to have ended up with and we have been incredibly lucky with them. “We didn’t buy any trained alpacas for trekking, we have trained all of them ourselves and I think some of our alpacas are just particularly good around people. “For us it’s all about people meeting the alpacas and educating people about them. A lot of our alpacas are happy to be around people on their own terms and are happy to let people stroke them. Even our original boys are totally happy to just spend time with people and it’s the alpacas that have defined what we do and what we will do in future.” As well as their trekking boys Clara and Shaun still have a breeding herd and continue to enjoy breeding a range of colours.
Trekking . Sales . Events
West Lancashire Alpaca Yearbook 2021
BEGINNERS: STARTING OUT
BUYING HEALTHY ALPACAS W hen buying alpacas for the first time or adding to your already existing herd, it is good practice to have an idea of what you are looking out for to indicate that the alpacas you are going to be taking home are healthy and suited to where they are soon to be living, writes Laura Gibson, Westpoint Farm Vets, Winchester. I would firstly advise that you always go and visit the alpacas you are considering buying, if at all possible (this may not be possible when purchasing from abroad, for example). A visit allows you to see them in their normal environment and watch how they normally behave. You can also use this opportunity to gather information from the owner on how they are managed at their current home and their previous history. The following is a list of general areas you can look at which will give you an idea of the animal’s health status:
Body condition score
An ideal body condition (when scoring out of 10) is 5.5-6, a skinny animal can suggest some form of illness leading to weight loss and an overly fat animal can also lead to issues (e.g. when giving birth). If you are unsure how to assess the body condition of an alpaca this is something your vet can help you with.
Check the incisors are level with the hard palate – this will allow them to feed properly. When the teeth are overgrown (beyond the hard palate) or are undershot or overshot this can lead to feeding difficulties in the future. You will also be able to get an indication of how well they are eating by watching them graze.
Mucous membrane colour
This gives you an idea of whether the animal is anaemic or has some form of infection. The colour you would expect is pale pink, however when the membranes are white this indicates some level of anaemia and conversely when they are bright red or purple this can indicate some form of infection. To assess mucous membrane colour you will need to have the animal restrained, then by lowering the lower eyelid, lifting the upper eyelid and applying gentle pressure the mucous membrane can be visualised.
Alpacas are herd animals and generally do not like to be on their own separated from the others; watching the alpacas while not being handled to check they are sticking together is a good indicator that they are happy. When in a field an alpaca should spend a lot of its time standing up grazing; when an alpaca spends most of the time sitting or lying down it may be an indication that he or she is not feeling quite right. Do bear in mind, however, that each alpaca has their own personality, something that the owner could discuss with you to indicate whether this is normal for that specific alpaca rather than an illness. There are other areas that can be considered in addition to making an assessment of the animal’s health both prior to and at the time of their arrival at their new home.
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Worm egg counting and treatment
There are many types of parasites that can make an alpaca sick and this is something that alpaca owners are regularly testing and treating for to ensure their alpacas stay fit and healthy. Knowing the parasite status of the herd you are buying from and when the animals were last treated and the product they were treated with, is a good place to start. You may want to have faecal egg counts conducted on the animals you are buying before they leave the farm or you could have them tested once they arrive at their new home and decide with your vet whether they need treating before mixing with any other alpacas you have. The ultimate aim is to make sure you don’t introduce parasites to any alpacas you may already have or to contaminate the pasture with parasites leading to a problem in the future.
Some breeders will have their vet carry out a physical examination on any alpaca they are selling. The vet goes through all the different systems of the body to check that at the time of examination the alpaca is not showing any signs of illness and provides this in the form of a certificate. If this is not something the breeder routinely does but you would like the opinion of a vet on the health status of the animals then this is something you could perhaps request or ask the breeder whether you could instruct your own vet to carry this out.
This is something that should be considered on arrival at their new home. You should keep the group of alpacas that you have brought separate from the rest of your herd until they have settled in. The recommended time for quarantine is three weeks, this will allow enough time for any test results to come back and if ‘post arrival’ faecal egg counts are to be carried out this is the optimum time to ensure the faecal egg counts will be as accurate as possible.
There are several infectious diseases that can affect alpacas; the main ones we might consider are bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVD), Johnes disease and tuberculosis (TB). When buying in new animals there is always a risk that they could be infected with an infectious disease that may impact them and their new herd mates in the future. This is something I would advise discussing with your vet as many infectious diseases can be tested for prior to purchasing new animals. As always, your vet is on hand to advise on potential purchases, disease testing protocols and care once settled in at your alpaca’s new home. Wishing you the best of luck with any 2021 acquisitions!
About the author
Laura graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2014 having previously completed a degree in Bioveterinary Science at the University of Liverpool. Laura completed an elective (special study) at university on camelids and has a particular interest in camelid medicine.
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BAS TRAINING AND EDUCATION
The BAS is committed to providing education and training on all aspects of alpaca ownership and management.
he British Alpaca Society is very keen on training and education writes BAS CEO Duncan Pullar. We see it as a crucial service for our members that helps ensure the wellbeing of the alpacas, we all love. The aim is to give members the tools and knowledge to meet the needs of their alpacas. Alpaca owners are a remarkably diverse bunch with a hugely different range of skills and experience. The BAS recognises this and offers a layered approach to training and education. There are some basics you need to know when you start out with alpacas but as you gain experience your appetite to learn will increase and some more advanced learning is required. To try and help everyone find the right training for the right time in their alpaca journey the following sections give a flavour of what is on offer.
BAS Affiliate Trainers deliver 11 modules approved by the Society: Module 1: Catching your alpaca Module 2: Fitting a head collar Module 3: Halter training Module 4: Feeding and basic management Module 5: Vaccination, worming and supplements Module 6: Alpaca breeding Module 7: Alpaca mating Module 8: Birthing Module 9: Shearing Module 10: What do to with fleece Module 11: Marketing your alpaca business 76 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
The BAS website is a great source of resources for information about alpacas. When you are thinking about buying alpacas or have recently bought some then the Alpacapedia section is a great place to start (www.bas-uk.com). The alpaca care section has the basics on breeding, feeding, weaning and handling. The welfare section covers all the main elements and has some good short videos covering husbandry skills. For hands on training the best early stage courses are those delivered by BAS Affiliates. There are 11 modules which are often delivered over two days (Day 1 module 1-5 and Day 2 modules 6 -11). The material in the modules was produced by an expert BAS team and the courses are delivered by experienced BAS members who have been approved as affiliate trainers. The courses are advertised on the BAS website and one day typically costs £75 to £100 for one person.
After a few years of alpaca ownership you may want to learn more about these fascinating animals. The formal mainstay of training at this stage is the one-day Alpaca Evaluation Course. This covers: • Basic conformation including teeth, stature, genitalia, legs, gait and body scoring. • Fleece – how to recognise the different qualities and traits of fibre including weight and value, fineness, density, crimp, uniformity, length, colour, amplitude and frequency and an introduction to histograms. There is also the opportunity to assess fleeces and discuss the merits of different qualities and styles. These courses are limited to a maximum of 12 people on the day and the cost to BAS members is £65 plus VAT. For non members the cost is £85 plus VAT. Course times and details are advertised on the BAS website. Many ad hoc training opportunities are offered by the various BAS regional alpaca groups. In normal times these are delivered through group workshops and meetings but in the last year many have continued online through video conferencing and webinars. The advantage of a video conference is that you can join a regional group meeting from anywhere without travelling from home! Some have
attracted overseas participants and I have joined lectures delivered in Australia. The subjects have been many and varied including, an explanation of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), as well as camelid diseases and how to spot them, feeding for fibre, fleece judging, what to look for when buying and breeding, reproductive efficiency, preparing your alpacas for winter, fleece preparation and skirting and crafting ideas for fleece. These webinars are advertised on the regional group websites and through the BAS weekly newsletter and on the BAS Facebook Alpaca Chat Forum.
More advanced training comes in the form of a couple of three day courses including Alpaca Assessment – Foundation and the Alpaca Assessment – Advanced. Both are a mixture of classroom and hands on training covering alpaca conformation and fleece characteristics. They offer delegates a thorough overview
of the major fleece performance and conformational traits for both Suri and Huacaya alpacas. The courses aim to give delegates confidence to assess and describe fibre and conformational characteristics to other owners and potential customers. The acquired knowledge also helps delegates to make informed selection decisions within their own herd for breeding, at shows and when buying in or selling stock. These advanced courses need to be taken in the correct order, usually within a year or two of each other to gain the best value and they are a gateway into the judge training programme. Two tutors work together to deliver the courses to a maximum of 16 delegates and each course costs £395 plus VAT. As well as a great learning experience everyone who attends a BAS course finds it a great forum to share information about all aspects of alpaca ownership with other equally enthusiastic owners.
Is your relationship with your animals all you had hoped for? How can Camelidynamics techniques help on my alpaca journey? Camelidynamics is an approach to and is a collection of methods that represent the most positive, least intrusive techniques for training and managing alpacas. Understand why camelids behave the way they do and learn kind and efficient methods that are science-based, for safe handling and husbandry that’s fun. This two day course will change the relationship you have with your animals forever. For those interested in finding out how this approach can inform and improve your human/ alpaca collaborations, we are now offering two and three day courses for owners and professionals: Working with Alpacas in Animal Assisted Activity and Therapy. Courses for vets now available.
For more details and to book your places go to
Alpaca Yearbook 2021
REGISTRATION IS WHAT YOU NEED
Libby Henson from Grassroots Systems Ltd explains why the BAS pedigree database is so important to the industry.
An essential tool
From the point of view of the whole alpaca community, a strong easily accessed pedigree database gives us the opportunity to look at trends within the national population and produce statistics for the BAS Board, the marketing committee, Alpaca magazine, and potential new members. This is important for marketing, for planning and in negotiations with the government. We can look at age distribution, we can map geographical distribution, particularly useful when planning shows or events, and we can look at the structure of our industry. Three quarters of our members have herds of fewer than 20 animals but a quarter of all alpacas living in the UK are owned by just 2% of our members. We can look at our quality fibre production and see there will be over 2000 first and second clip white fleeces produced next summer. We also have an idea of the numbers of fleeces for all the other colours and for suris. A strong database is an essential tool in the future development of our industry and a key to the development of a successful breeding strategy. In the UK we have just such a registry, accessible to our members via the BAS website. It holds a wealth of information on over 40,000 animal records. Ensure that your alpacas are part of that future – check your papers and get your herd registered!
78 Alpaca Yearbook 2021
here are currently almost 40,000 alpacas registered as living in the UK, in 1260 BAS herds ranging in size from two or three animals to several hundred. The majority of herds consist of 10 to 20 registered animals. It is really important that all UK-born alpacas are logged with the BAS even if they are kept as pets or for fibre production.
All alpacas should carry a microchip which is the primary form of identification and is the quickest way to positively identify a lost or stolen animal. Registered animals are also allocated with an ear tag which indicates the herd in which they were born and a unique number. Tags do not have to be worn in the ear, but they are an effective way of identifying animals in larger groups.
All cria should be logged with the BAS registry as soon as possible, and before their first birthday. There are three sections of the registry – Registered, Notified and Listed. Females and males destined for breeding should be ‘Registered’ (£15 +VAT). All pet males which will not be used for breeding or have been castrated should be ‘Listed’ (free of charge). All other males, whose destiny is not yet decided, should be ‘Notified’ (free of charge). Certificates are automatically provided for all fully registered animals and are available for ‘Listed’ or ‘Notified’ males for a small fee (£5 +VAT). Late fees apply to all cria applications which are not reported to the registry until after their first birthday. Full Register late fee £30 +VAT, Notification late fee (£15 +VAT). Listing remains free of charge.
Animals which have been sold should be transferred on the registry to the new owners. The transfer fee (£18 + VAT) applies to ‘Registered’ females, ‘Registered’ and ‘Notified’ males and is normally paid by the vendor. Transfer of ‘Listed’ non-breeding males is free of charge.
daughters of ‘Listed A’ section females by a registered sire are eligible for full pedigree registration. This obviously takes time but is a mechanism for currently unregistered herds to be brought back into the full pedigree registry, and is in line with grading-up schemes used by many pedigree breed societies in other species.
Registry available online
The details of all ‘Registered’, ‘Notified’ and ‘Listed’ animals is available for members, online, via the members area of the BAS website (www.bas-uk.com). Please log into the members area (top right hand corner of the screen) using your herd letters and password. Then click on registry (top right hand corner of the screen). Type in some information about an animal in order to find it, or type the herd letters for the owner or breeder for a full list. The more information you provide the smaller the list offered. If you are having problems locating an animal, please contact the Grassroots office. To view more details on any one animal click on it in the list. Click on pedigree, progeny or show results for these details. Anything in blue is a link, for example to ancestors, breeder or owner. Manage your herd records – online. The online herd book can also be used to apply to make changes to the registry. • You can let us know about the birth of cria and apply to register, notify or list. • You can let us know about transfer of ownership on the animals you have sold so that we can transfer the animals and contact the new owner to invite them to join the BAS. • You can let us know about deaths and record the reasons for death. This information is held confidentially, but is used to produce annual summaries of reasons for death, which may help to identify trends and areas where research is needed. • You can apply for DNA testing and DNA parentage tests to assist with the identification of your animals and confirm their pedigrees. • You can do show entries for the majority of BAS shows.
Before you buy
Please do check that the animals are on the BAS database or contact the Grassroots office for assistance. 01392 270421 or email@example.com. It is very important that animals are registered before you buy because cria can only be registered by the person who was the registered owner of their mother on the day they were born. If you purchase unregistered animals you will not be able to register them yourself, and any cria they subsequently produce will not be eligible for registration. It could be compared to the difference between a black dog and a pedigree Labrador – both might make nice pets but if you are planning to show, or to breed animals you may wish to sell in the future, you must begin with pedigree registered stock. Registration is also important because the pedigree of an animal, its offspring, siblings and other relations are a good indicator of its breeding potential and that of its descendants. If you want to breed to improve your stock, you need to know as much as possible about what you are buying. An animal with no pedigree, and no breeding history really is a ‘pig in a poke’.
If you do already own unregistered stock, please contact the BAS registry for advice. It may be possible to trace their registered parents and arrange for late registration and transfer. Failing that, there is a ‘grading-up scheme’ which enables unregistered stock to be brought back into the fold, over three generations. The scheme is a mechanism by which any alpaca of unknown origin can be included into the BAS database. The animals for whom no pedigree is known go into the ‘Listed’ section. All the males remain in the listed non-breeding section, but daughters by a registered sire can be registered into the ‘Listed C’ section. Their daughters by a registered sire go into the ‘Listed B’ section, and their daughters by a registered sire go into the ‘Listed A’ section. Finally the
Three ways to log your cria with the registry
There are now three ways you can apply to notify, list or register your cria with the BAS.
You can send a paper application form. These can be downloaded from the website or contact the Grassroots Office and they’ll pop one in the post.
• • • • • • •
You can make application via PedeWeb, the online registry. You will need your member number/herd letters and password, if you have forgotten them please contact the Grassroots office. Go to the BAS website www.bas-uk.com; Log into the members’ area, (top right) and then click on registry; Select ‘Manage your herd’; Select the first option – ‘Births’; Complete a form for each cria and click on ‘Add to list’; When you have finished click on ‘submit’; Finally go to the shopping basket and either pay on line via PayPal or print off the remittance slip to clear the basket, and send the cheque payable to BAS to the Grassroots office.
You can email your application as an excel spreadsheet. This is particularly useful for members who already have an on-farm computer system because the report can be exported direct from that system. The excel spreadsheet must include your herd letters and name in the title of the file. The whole batch in that file must be destined for one registration type (eg, notified males, listed males or full register). The columns must include: • The date of birth; • Sex (unless the whole batch are one sex in which case that information can be in the email message); • Ear tag – this will be made up of your three letter herd code, the letters BASUK and an individual number; • EID chip number – this is the primary form of identification; • Name – herd prefix plus individual name; • Colour; • Sire number – either the full registration number as it appears on PedeWeb, or the full tag number as it appears on PedeWeb; • Sire name – for cross reference; • Dam number – either the full registration number as it appears on PedeWeb, or the full tag number as it appears on PedeWeb; • Dam name – for cross reference.
If you need help or advice please contact the Grassroots Office on 01392 270421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Or write to: BAS Registry, PO Box 251, Exeter, EX2 8WX Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Alpacas for sale
A list of BAS members who are breeders and advertising their alpacas for sale
We are committed to the success of the British Alpaca industry and realising the potential and possibilities this offers. We are passionate about the Alpaca, and continuing to progress the quality of our herd of 700 plus alpacas, both Huacaya and Suri, without compromising our high standards in ensuring excellent herd welfare. Offering unrivalled experience and support to our clients, and helping them achieve success is core to our business ethos.
15 years of selective breeding and dedication has successfully proven our genetics both in and outside the show ring, winning multiple Herts Alpacas championships and of course one of the British Alpaca Futurity’s major Best Breeder awards.
We offer a full range of alpacas for sale, stud males, breeding females and pets as well as learning opportunities for all levels of experience. We welcome visitors by appointment. Located in Buckinghamshire. TEL: Nick 07979 651742 & Alexandra 07795 843790 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.alpacaevolution.com
We offer a range of courses including: ‘Introduction to alpacas’, ‘Birthing’, ‘Husbandry’, and a day long ‘Advanced’ course. Alpacas for sale in all colours, at prices to suit all pockets, but more importantly from elite herd sires and proven bloodlines. Our farm in Hertfordshire offers: feed, supplies, coats, halters etc. Importantly we deliver total customer care. See website for customer reviews and details of our award-winning herd sires. tel: 01763 271301 or 07802 433155 emAil: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.hertsalpacas.co.uk
We are a family run farm in Warfield, Berkshire, breeding high quality Huacaya and Suri alpacas from show winning sires. We would like to welcome you to Scotlands Farm to see our wonderful herd of both white and coloured animals.
Established in 2002 and situated on the North Cotswold hills close to the picturesque village of Snowshill, the current herd numbers over 300. We breed both Huacaya and Suri alpacas (approximately 85% are Huacaya). Although our breeding programme is biased towards the darker colours, we do also have superb quality whites and beige alpacas.
We are happy to discuss your requirements, be it for pet males, stock guards, or breeding females to suit your budget but with no obligation to purchase. We have over ten years of experience with these adorable animals. Give us a call and let us see if we can help you.
Full range of alpacas for sale, attractive pets to top show quality breeding girls and stud boys. Large choice of stunning stud males available to service your girls. Also offering natural alpaca fabrics made in the UK from the fleece of our own herd.
TEL: 01386 853841 or 07711 044106 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.snowshillalpacas.com
Sue Hipkin 07770 455533 Lisa Hipkin 07770 455534 WEB: www.scotfieldalpacas.co.uk
We provide after sales advice and back up services when we sell our animals. Whether you are looking to improve or expand your herd or just thinking of alpacas as pets, why not contact us to arrange a visit. TEL: 07802 263589 WEB: www.alpacabreeder.co.uk EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
JandJ Alpacas WE SPECIALISE IN COLOURED ALPACAS
The family run JandJ Alpaca herd was established in 2005 with four pregnant females, today we have over 90 beautiful animals. We are located in Lincolnshire on the Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leiceistershire border just off the A1. With years of experience our aim is to help you choose the best alpacas to start you journey, whether it be pregnant females, stud males, pet boys or girls. Please feel free to get in touch. TEL:
Martin or Clare 01636 626990
EMAIL: email@example.com WEB:
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The PennyBridge Herd and Stud. One of the first alpaca farms set up in the South of England, still producing show winners from champion stock. Good quality starter herds, proven and potential stud males, stud services, fancy grazers and sheep guards available. Please phone to book a viewing with no obligation to purchase. Situated in North Hampshire, close to the Surrey and Berkshire borders with good access to ports and airports, less than five minutes drive from both J5 and 6 of the M3. TEL: 01256 764824 or 07801 132757 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.pennybridgealpacas.co.uk
URCUCHILLAY ALPACAS For over 10 years we have bred multiple-champion alpacas, selecting the best genetics while working to very high ethical standards. Our reputation and many awards are testament to our passion, commitment, knowledge and experience. We have BAS registered and halter trained alpacas for sale in a range of colours, ages and quality, champion studs in a range of colours with a variety of sought-after genetics from New Zealand, Australia, America and the UK. We offer alpaca walks, experiences, events and parties as well as a shop. Visits are welcome by appointment. TEL: 01458 860052 or 07570 511299 EMAIL: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.urcuchillay.co.uk or www.fibreofthegods.co.uk
Lightfoot Alpacas are situated in Hawkhurst in the Weald of Kent. We have been breeding alpacas since 1997 and have over 450 Huacaya and Suri. Lightfoot is a closed herd, we believe that the bio security and health of our animals is paramount to their breeding and care. We always have the full range of colours and ages, mainly Huacaya with some Suris. Our animals are known for being friendly as we spend time with them and know them individually.
Breeding quality, friendly alpacas on the Romney Marsh, we pride ourselves on the relationship we have with our animals and our high welfare standards. Many of the herd have been halter trained and are great walking companions. We can help you find anything from a fleecy friend to a show winning fleece. For new keepers we have well bonded starter herds available with a full support package including – training with our head herdsperson, home visits, shearing, ongoing phone/ face-to-face support and a ‘Home for Life’ guarantee as standard. So please come on down and meet the herd! TEL: 01303 870527 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.alpacaannie.com
TOFT ALPACAS We offer over 150 pedigree alpacas in all colours, ages and price ranges and are confident that our prize-winning herd will live up to all your alpaca expectations. We will be delighted to share our extensive experience to guide you towards your alpaca aspiration, whatever that might be. Through the TOFT studio we run an extensive programme of practical husbandry and textile, crochet and knitting workshops throughout the year. The TOFT studio retails exclusive luxury yarn from throughout the world. Come and see for yourself – the complete alpaca experience. TEL: 01788 810626 or 07970 626245 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.toftalpacastud.com
FAERIE TALE ALPACAS Faerie–Tale Alpacas is a small family run farm based in Kenilworth in Warwickshire J15 of M40. We focus on breeding sound, healthy, friendly, elite alpacas with gorgeous fleeces and top class genetics at very reasonable prices. We know each alpaca and have most colours available from blue black to dazzling white. Whether you are new to alpacas or wish to expand your herd we have an alpaca to suit you! Prices to suit all budgets and with full after sales support given. We offer: • Quality breeding stock • Starter herds • Stud services • 2 hour alpaca experiences • Alpacas for weddings and events • Luxury range of hand knitted alpaca garments and accessories using our own fleeces TEL: 07950 671672 FACEBOOK: Faerie Tale Alpacas EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.faerietalealpacas.co.uk
POTTERY ALPACAS Pottery Alpacas are a family run farm located in Lancashire, we focus on breeding high quality animals from elite bloodlines. We have a wide range of alpacas for sale, with everything from Pet Quality males and females to Stud males and show quality stock. We offer first class support and advice with every purchase and are more than happy to discuss your requirements with no obligation. We are here to help you every step of the way on your alpaca journey! TEL: 01254 419069 MARK: 07702 540270 AMANDA: 07882 456084 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.potteryalpacas.com
Fibre Processors and Retailers RETAILERS/WHOLESALERS IN BRITISH ALPACA PRODUCTS
JG ANIMAL HEALTH High specification organic chealated nutritional supplements suitable for all camelids. • Premier Camelid Drench • Premier Mineral Supplement • Premier Mineral Bucket • A, D3 & E Paste TEL: 07866 607466 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.jganimalhealth.co.uk
PROCESSORS OF FIBRE – MINI MILLS AND OTHER
CLASSIC CARDER Classic Carder produce a full range of British, handmade drum carders for fibre preparation. Featuring our unique interchangeable drum system which allows quick and easy drum change for carding different fibres. TEL: 01746 714130
HOMESTEAD FARM SUPPLIES Everything you need for your alpacas delivered to your door! We are a one-stop-shop for alpaca supplies, including headcollars and leads, vitamins and nutritional supplements, healthcare and welfare supplies, colostrum, coats for cria and adults and microchipping equipment. We also have a good selection for your other animals, including dogs, chickens and horses, as well as a range of farmhouse items and gifts, including our famous home cheese-making kits. We are alpaca owners ourselves and we are always happy to help with your questions and enquiries. Order direct from our website or by phone. You can expect fast, friendly service and advice. TEL: 01295 713188 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.homesteadfarmsupplies.co.uk
M.R.HARNESS M.R.Harness was founded in 1995 after existing part time for a number of years. Mary herself is a qualified engineer and is well placed to assess materials and their useage. Company policy is to test as many of the webbing designs as possible before release, as each item is unique to the animal it is designed for. This has led M.R.Harness to become the supplier of choice for headcollars, leads, coats and harness for all the various smallholding animals, but specialising in alpacas and llamas, and working ponies. All items are hand crafted ‘in house’, in England, so you can be assured of good workmanship and quality products that last. So please come and try the ‘Choice of Champions’. TEL: 01299 896827 EMAIL: email@example.com
BAS Members exclusive BAS Members get free membership to My Society and can benefit from a number of exclusive offers. Here are a few:
The Professional Solution
25% OFF Terms and conditions apply
Discounted Prices on Microchips*
Terms and conditions apply
WEB: www.classiccarder.co.uk Terms and conditions apply
2 FREE worm counts worth £40 for NEW BAS members then 25% OFF Worm Counts after that*
British Alpaca Society The ﬁbre breed
Become a BAS member Single membership £74 per annum Joint membership £95 per annum Herd registration fee £25
ALL products Safe4disinfectant www.medisave.co.uk
www.ellipsefabrications.co.uk Terms and conditions apply
Wildwood Animal Health www.wildwoodanimalhealth.co.uk
Free bag of Camelibra NG2
Terms and conditions apply
Terms and conditions apply
(worth £28 & free delivery)
Checkout these and many other offers on The My Society page on the BAS website by going to the moving carousel on the home page and clicking on the My Society link www.bas-uk.com The British Alpaca Society cannot be held responsible for any issues regarding products, off ers or services off ered under the My Society scheme. All off ers can be withdrawn or changed without notice. The British Alpaca Society does not endorse or recommend any of the companies listed under the My Society Scheme. * Full terms and conditions of the My Society off ers can be seen on the BAS website.
www.bas-uk.com Alpaca Yearbook 2021
Our regular diarist takes a break with a coffee and a biscuit and considers what to do with fly traps in winter. ›
This fire extinguisher is in my transporter
› My Christmas presents, a must for summer
t’s just one of those awful dull winter days. The trees are still, nothing is moving, the fog is low, it’s dark and dank even the alpacas are keeping to their field shelters eating hay, so I come inside, have a coffee and a biscuit and I think maybe I should make a list of what needs doing but I don’t move from the settee. Christmas seems ages ago and I have to say I had some good and very unusual presents. I received a present in the post in early December that I knew was a Christmas present as it had the senders name on. As any naughty person would I opened it straightaway, and sent a text message to the sender saying: "Thanks for the present I thought I'd use it straight away but I can’t find any flies!" Said person was upset I’d opened the parcel before Christmas day. “Oh! You are awful it was supposed to be a surprise.” Chris Powell it was a surprise, I have to say I have never had fly traps as a Christmas present before. But it was one of my best presents and I can’t wait to hang them up in spring! Thanks Chris, my birthday’s coming up soon. I also had a small fire extinguisher for the stable block. The one I already had was old and needed replacing badly so that also will come in useful.
It got me thinking about my wooden stable yard and the risk of fire. At some point most of us have our alpacas and other animals housed in our barns or stables. Fire is a huge threat to lives and buildings and can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. Buildings of metal, stone or brick, with a slate or tiled roof and a cement floor will provide good fire resistance and help to contain the fire while a wooden stable block or wood barn could see fire spread quicker. Felt and corrugated roofing could melt into the building and a long building should have more than one exit. When trying to evacuate animals be aware of smoke and burning embers which can fall or block exits causing injuries. Don’t
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underestimate the heat of a fire. A large barn should have multi exits and be made of noncombustible material. Although not commonplace on alpaca/agricultural/equine buildings a sprinkler system is the best thing to have in terms of fire safety. Specialist company EquiProtect is bringing out a sprinkler system designed for yards and animal safety. Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, have fire blankets at certain points and have a no smoking policy. Discourage vermin that might chew through wire and have electrical appliances annually PAT tested. Hay, straw or other flammable goods will accelerate a fire and should be stored well away from animals perhaps in another building. Safety is paramount when you employ people or have customers coming onto your farm. Being organised and fire aware could save lives.
It is unreal how many scam emails or texts you can get each week and if something is too good to be true it, it usually is. Use your common sense. When people are not asking the right questions, or when someone wants to buy six alpacas on a text message or first email without seeing them and not going through the expected buying process you should be cautious. Don’t give out your bank details or private information to a first time caller. Prospective new buyers generally should see what they are buying. Would you buy an animal or trailer without seeing it first? (Maybe on the rare occasion but only from a reputable seller). Scammers are also using different photographs of animals in the adverts – not the ones they have for sale, so if you go along to a farm to buy an animal and the alpaca is not the one in the photograph don’t buy it. Better safe than sorry. Now my coffee has gone cold, I’d better have another one and a biccy to go with it…
Supreme Champion alpaca breeders with 27 years experience Inca Incognito â€“ Supreme Champion Female.
We are proud to offer: Detailed guidance and support for new owners. Business planning for breeding herds. Elite pedigree breeding and pet stock for sale and export to the EU and Middle East? Help obtaining planning permission for a dwelling using alpaca breeding as justification â€“ we did it and have helped others.
www.incaalpaca.co.uk Please call Tim and Tracey to talk more about alpaca ownership: +44 (0) 7875 532827