Shavano kids have hit the ground running, working hard to keep up with their dad's success. The run, the pace and all the hard work has been worth the effort as these kids have earned more than their share of purple banners, judges choices, and auction high sellers to make him proud. Like Shavano, many of his
offspring are unrelated to the most popular and successful pedigrees in the industry, offering serious breeders the opportunity to build upon their own success with outcross breeding. The 2012 Shavano line of cria look to be our best yet and will be ready to take up the baton in the showring this spring. Hope to see you there!
Buying Suri fiber that meets the following qualifications: 3.5" - 9.0" staple length All colors All grades (new for 2012) Blanket fiber only (no necks or leg/belly fiber) 1% or less in vegetable matter Fleeces free of cotting and breakage
Selling graded Suri fiber in the following forms: Raw fiber Roving Yam
Buying on-site at Alpaca United's Fiber to Market Days: Providing the following collection points for growers: Akuna Matada Alpacas - Hotchkiss, CO Salt River Alpacas - St Louis, MO Pacesetter Alpacas- Beloit, WI Waywood Farm Alpacas - Findlay, OH Mid-States Wool Growers - Canal Winchester, OH (just outside of Columbus)
The North American Suri Company
Pucara International - McMinnville, OR Dutch Valley Quality Alpacas - Bennett, CO Willow Bend Alpaca Farm- Forreston, IL Alpaca Bella Suri Farm - Morrow, OH Abenaki Acres - Stockton, NJ
Visit our website at www.nasurico.com to become a buyer or seller with The North American Suri Company.
Message from the President
Welcome to this annual edition of PurelySuri, a publication of the Suri Network (SN). The SN is a national breed association dedicated to the preservation of the Suri alpaca and the growth
of the Suri alpaca industry. Suri alpacas are unique with their luxurious, lustrous fiber and the Suri Network offers a united voice in promoting Suri as the “Ultimate Natural Fiber.”
This issue of PurelySuri offers articles on a variety of topics useful to the current Suri
breeder and informative for those just learning about the wonderful opportunities available when raising Suri alpacas. You will find articles on marketing Suris and improving fiber pro-
duction, as well as updates on animal health and suggestions to improve traffic to your web site. In the article, “On the Road to Tisco,” you will learn how alpaca breeders are giving back to the communities where our alpacas originated. PurelySuri is now online, available to
anyone interested in learning more about Suri alpacas.
Many projects have been ongoing during the past year. The Suri Herd Improvement Pro-
gram (SHIP), has grown with the classification of additional herds offering Suri breeders
measurable data useful in making sound breeding decisions. The SN marketing program has increased like never before, reaching into social media while expanding online and print ad-
vertising. The marketing plan is designed to drive people to the SN website where they can find information and locate Suri farms near them. Website hits and clicks have increased dramatically. The Suri Network Product Development Committee has been actively engaged
in a number of projects geared to educating the public about Suris while assisting Suri breeders in improving the quality of their fiber production. This year the annual Summer Sympo-
sium returned to Estes Park, Colorado and was an outstanding success offering Suri breeders
from across the country education in a range of topics important to the success of their Suri business.
I would like to thank our membership for their enthusiastic support of the Suri Network
and encourage all to share suggestions and ideas with any of us on the Board of Trustees. We
are here to serve your best interests and the Suri industry and want you to know your thoughts and participation are always most welcome.
Linda Kondris President
Suri Network Board of Trustees Linda Kondris, President — My involvement with camelids began with the purchase of two llamas in 1994. I discovered Suri alpacas a few years later and was immediately taken by their grace and elegance. The beauty of the Suri solidified my decision to raise Suris exclusively and Pines Edge Suri Alpacas was established in Black Forest, Colorado, in 1998. My children raised a variety of small livestock as they were growing up and I’ve always enjoyed animal husbandry. Over the past 15 years I have fulfilled numerous volunteer positions within the alpaca community and served on the Board of Directors for the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies affiliate and I’m currently a member of the AOBA Show Rules Committee. As your elected member of the Suri Network Board of Trustees, I am fully vested in the future of the Suri alpaca industry and appreciate the opportunity to serve the Suri Network membership. We are a dynamic group and by working together we have a bright future ahead.
Tim Sheets, Vice President — Along with my wife, Beth, we own Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas in central Indiana. We have two adult children, Michael and Jennifer, and two beautiful granddaughters. We have been raising Suri alpacas for nine years and have been active members of the Suri Network from our beginning. Raising alpacas is a real passion of ours and has been more exciting than we would have ever anticipated. Beth and I are living out a dream of owning a small farm and raising livestock that gives back so much. I feel strongly that a bright future of the alpaca industry depends on how well we engage the youth of today. To this point, I have been involved in local 4-H and FFA groups in encouraging an interest and involvement with alpacas. I am very confident of the future of the Suri alpaca industry and look forward to what the next few years bring. As your elected member of the Suri Network Board of Trustees, I represent the membership’s interests to the best of ability. My commitment is to use my skills and influence to help shape the future of our incredible industry.
Patty Hasselbring, Treasurer — Along with my husband Britt Hasselbring, I own Hasselbring’s Harmony Ranch just outside Concordia, Missouri. Since purchasing our first Suris in 2009, we have built a herd of around 115 Suri alpacas. Before starting our alpaca venture, we visited alpaca farms and, early on, fell in love with the exquisite Suri. Prior to alpaca farming, I spent my professional life as a non-profit executive, focusing primarily on juvenile justice and children’s issues. In 1994, I opened my own consulting practice, Grants and Beyond. I continue my consulting business, providing training and other services for non-profit organizations and helping them effectively meet their missions.
Kristie Smoker, Secretary — Before starting Sweet Valley Suris, I held management and executive positions in private industry for more than 20 years. I spent 18 years with The Hershey Company before co-founding Turning Point Enterprises, a human resources consultancy. I own and manage more than 40 Suri alpacas and currently serve on the Suri Network Board of Trustees. I am the former President of the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association, a seven-state affiliate to AOBA. In 2010, I coordinated the largest alpaca show in the eastern United States. I received my A.S. from Pennsylvania State University and my B.S. from Albright College.
Cindy Harris, Trustee — I grew up in California and developed a passion for Suri alpacas that began in 2000 while I was teaching fourth grade. I had 13 acres and was deciding what to do with the rest of the property when I met my first alpacas. Suris were visual poetry to me, with their locks shining and swinging in the breeze! My husband, Doug Fieg, and I own Alpacas at Windy Hill in Somis, California. We practice intensive Californiastyle management of a herd of 350 alpacas on 25 acres of Bermuda grass for our own herd and several boarders. We emphasize education particularly providing a “safety net” for new owners. We host a variety of classes and events during the year to introduce the public to alpacas. We breed for excellent Suri traits across colors and origins. Showing is a large part of our marketing. We shear our Suris annually, and have been extremely pleased with the results, feeling strongly that the proof of a Suri is in the regrowth. We would like to see more emphasis nationwide on the “process-ability” of Suri shorn annually.
Table of Contents
Features 10 Only the Highest Graded Suri will take us
to a Successful Future
Breeding for the Ultimate Suri:
by Donna Rudd
What I have learned over the past 16 years
by Gail S. Campbell, D.V.M.
Magical Mystical Marketing Trick by Susan Muther and Hazen Reed
42 11:00 P.M., Sunday: Farm Visit
by Joe Preston
47 The Road to Tisco by Tim Sheets
56 Alpaca Youth Judging Contests by David Barboza
59 Breeding for Suri Fiber in the Commercial Market by Liz Vahlkamp
64 The New Rules of Marketing Alpacas by Julie Wassom
66 Diagnosis of Diarrhea in Camelids
by Pamela G. Walker, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M.
Departments 4 Message from the President 5 Board of Trustees 9 Statement of Purpose 78 Advertising Index 6 PURELYSURI
Suri Network Statement of Purpose
Dedicated to the preservation of the Suri Alpaca. The purpose of the Suri Network shall include, but not be limited to, the following: To promote, through education to the alpaca community and the general public, awareness of and interest in Suri Alpacas and their fiber, and related business interest. To promote the growth of the Suri Alpaca industry. To serve as an industry and marketing group to promote and protect the collective economic and legal interests of the network’s members.
©2012 Silken Suri Alpaca Ranch
To organize and conduct, from time to time, a Suri Alpaca event, which shall be open to the public and which shall further the purposes of the corporation. This event shall provide members and other participants with the opportunity to share with each other their ideas, encouragement, knowledge, and companionship.
Winter 2012 • $10 PurelySuriTM magazine is a publication of Suri Network. Statements, opinions, and points of view expressed by the writers and advertisers are their own and do not necessarily represent those of PurelySuriTM, members of the Suri Network, the publisher, staff, employees, or agents. Suri Network does not assume liability for products or services advertised herein. Suri Network reserves the right to accept or reject any editorial or advertising matter. No part of PurelySuriTM may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronically, mechanically, by photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior express written permission of the submitting author to which the article, photography, illustration, or material is copyrighted. PurelySuriTM assumes all work published here is original and is the work and property of the submitting author. All product and company names are trademarked or copyrighted by their respective owners. ©2012 by Suri Network, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
Publisher: Suri Network Design & Production: Julianna Farresta Managing Editor: Kathleen Cullen & Linda Kondris Editor: Megan Fleming Marketing Consultants: Marsha and Ken Hobert Contributing Writers: David Barboza Gail Campbell, D.V.M. Suzan Muther Joe Preston Hazen Reed Donna Rudd Tim Sheets Liz Vahlkamp Pamela G. Walker, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M. Julie Wassom Printer: Able Printing Company Cover Photo: Laurie Findlay, Alpacas of El Dorado
Suri Network, Inc. P.O. Box 1984 Estes Park, CO 80517-1984 Phone: (970) 586-5876 Fax: (970) 586-6685 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.surinetwork.org www.surinetwork.org
HIGHEST GRADED SURI will take us to a
SUCCESSFUL FUTURE by Donna Rudd
10 10PURELYSURI PURELYSURI
We, as breeders of Suris and producers of alpaca fiber, need to make the conscious decision to produce only the highest quality Suris because only the best will be successful and profitable in a competitive market. As fiber producers we are in the driver’s seat and we can ‘”choose” to produce superior fleece clips by studying pedigrees and planning smart management practices before the fiber is harvested and processed. This will lead to better quality fiber, superior end products, and greater return on your investment dollars. By choosing sires and dams with fiber traits that result in only positive fleece qualities including longevity of micron count, consistency of micron, density, and lack of guard hairs, you have just made some very wise investment choices. But this process also involves making the choice to remove those animals from your gene pool that do not have the potential to produce high quality fiber traits. “Remove to Improve!”
Smart, informed management decisions
©2012 jack Hanna
Before you cross a male with a female, valuable evaluation information regarding fiber and fleece production can be gleaned from fleece show score cards, skin biopsies, histograms, experienced persons including classers and graders, judges, and others. continued on next page ©2012 Dennis Duenas
Left histogram (MFD 24, SC5, CV22%, SF23) Right histogram (MFD 27, SD 10, CV 37%,SF 32)
The Suri Network (SN) has had the foresight to develop different evaluation programs such as the Suri Herd Improvement Program (SHIP), breed standards, classifications, and EPDs. Classification is a comprehensive assessment of strengths and weaknesses taken on individual Suris based on the SN breed standards. This identifies strengths and weaknesses for specific body and fiber traits on and off the live animal. EPDs are a statistical tool based on a field of quantitative genetics of measurable data that applies to a set of statistical equations. The highest standards for fiber harvesting in the industry today are set by the SN Fiber Harvesting Code of Practice. By using these tools producers will be well on their way to producing consistent, high-quality, graded Suri fiber for the open market. Histograms are a valuable source of information about fiber traits that can be passed down from one generation to the next, especially if you review more than one year’s history. Keep in mind that the sample you take for the histogram is a review of one point of 12 PURELYSURI
©2012 Sue Simonton
the blanket at one point in time. Running a histogram on the same animal over a period of several years, and also submitting your data to the EPD program, are two ways to make histograms even more valuable. Here are a few important things that I watch for when studying histograms for the purpose of purchasing a fleece: Mean Fiber Diameter (MFD): Grades 1-2 can be worn against the skin and spun into fine lace weight or fingering yarns for fine, high-end garments. I watch this number closely so that it does not read over 23 microns. I have always felt that those Suris that hold their fine fiber traits from a young age well into maturity and resist the tendency for fleece “blow out,” are well worth their weight in gold. Fine fibers will be rewarded one day in North America and those fleeces that offer finer microns will one day reap the benefits. In fact, we have already seen a demand for high-quality Grade 1 & 2 Suri that was not there even one year ago. Additionally, there are a couple of new promiscontinued on page 14
ing “combing” facilities in the eastern U.S. along with newer commercial mills with equipment designed to handle finer fibers, so the commercial processing for Suri is looking brighter and brighter. Standard Deviation (SD): This indicates how much the fiber diameter sample varies around the mean. A higher value means greater deviation and changes the hand and the quality of processing; however, it should be noted that the degree of acceptable SD is relative to the MFD. As such, a higher micron fleece with a SD of 5 may be viewed similarly to a fleece with an MFD of 18 and an SD of 3.5 as relates to the relevance of the standard deviation. As such, commercial fleece buyers will look at the Coefficient of Variation (CV) discussed below. For example, if you were to have a fleece that did not feel soft and smooth, its SD would probably be much higher than 5%. Comfort Factor or Prickle Factor (CF): This is a percentage that should read over 80%. If it does not, it is an indication that there are some very strong coarse fibers (guard hairs or medulated fibers) that cause skin irritation and would not make “next to the skin” yarn. This fleece may be ideal for “dehairing” if the histogram indicates a good separation between the fine fibers and coarse fibers. However, if the histogram indicates a variety of fiber sizes this fleece should be made into product suited to the strongest grade, not the finest grade. I am a strong advocate for dehairing those fleeces that have a large quantity of good, fine fibers but are inundated with too many strong fibers, making the fleece unworthy of the finer grade. If a good job is done with dehairing and the fine and strong fibers are separated, the resulting yarn from the fine fibers can often be outstanding and well worth the extra expense. Remember: Never mix this sort of fleece with the other more consistent fine fleeces, because the coarse fibers will contaminate the whole class! Coefficient of Variation (CV): This is a percentage of variation in measurements and it neutralizes the relationship of the SD and the MFD, allowing buyers and breeders to compare the variance of microns within one fleece to the variance in another fleece. The CV is an expression of uniformity in which 20% or less is good and 21-27% average. Remember: Uniformity of fleece means uniformity of yarn and end products. This is very important and an indication pointing to quality, high-end products or not! 14 PURELYSURI
©2012 Sue Simonton
Spin Fineness (SF): This depends on fiber diameter and CV. SP is an estimate of the performance of the fiber when spun into yarn and it’s a good indicator of what the yarn will feel like when spun into yarn. This figure should be less than or equal to the MFD, and is primarily a factor for the processor.
Fiber harvesting techniques such as shearing, skirting, sorting, grading, and classing will affect end product quality.
The practices a farm implements at shearing time also play into the quality of the fiber clip. To assist farms with this, SN provides the “Fiber Harvesting Code of Practice Guidelines” (available online or through the SN) as a tool to provide producers with clear and concise guidelines for harvesting their Suri fiber clip. This is a step-by-step guide that will encourage producers to use standard fiber clip
preparation, shearing, skirting, sorting, grading, classing, regardless of operation size, location, or final textile destination. Once the animal is shorn, the process of getting the fiber clip to the mill is as follows: Off the farm fleece preparation after shearing: Commercial markets are demanding grades that are consistently pure and uniform. That can only be achieved by separating and removing contamination and impurities from the most valuable portion, the blanket. “Remove it to Improve it!” Grading and sorting: It takes a skilled eye and a sensitive hand to further separate the blanket into various sorts of uniformity in length, micron, and color. A prime blanket can be quickly devalued by only a small amount of second cuts, coarse locks, burrs, tenderness, or matting. Research has indicated that the more consistent and uniform this prime blanket sort is, the more uniform the yarn and resulting fabric becomes. Commercial processors cannot afford contaminants going into their valuable, precise equipment. As specialized producers we must meet these standards if we are to succeed on the world fiber marketplace today and in the future. Those fleeces that contain excessive amounts of guard hairs or medulated fibers should always be removed, set aside, and considered separately. A grader matches fleeces and sorts “like with like” to eventually make up grade lines of 3 microns each. For example: Grade #3 23.0-25.9 microns, all of like quality; the same micron, length, color. If lines are combined to make up a larger batch, you might combine white with fawn or white and black of the same grade to make a line of grey. But you would never combine long and shorter lengths to make larger batches, nor fine and coarse grades. Classing: Understanding the importance of grading and considering how those grades meet textile or product lines takes study, experience, and a certain degree of processing knowledge. This is where a good relationship with your processing mill manager is important if you are a small producer; or you can rely on the expertise of those in the industry who are trained in classing lines to textiles such as classers.
What differentiates high quality from low quality?
High-quality fleeces and grades exhibit these traits: • Uniform lock structure, length, and micron results in more uniform yarn and less loss during processing • Lack of negative traits such as: tenderness, tender ends, dry or brittleness, guard hairs, cotting/matting, crimp/crinkle, chalkiness/lack of luster, harsh hand, etc. • Good harvesting and preparation (sheared, skirted, sorted, and graded) • Lots where all undesirable portions and contaminants have been “Removed to Improve!” High-quality end products exhibit these traits: • No imperfections in materials or workmanship (i.e., no yarn hairiness or shedding) • Uniform and consistent twist and grist • Garment meets the purpose perfectly (style, yarn size, pattern, etc.) • Exceptional quality and value show up immediately (visual appeal) • Luster, smooth hand, and cool to the touch, with excellent draping properties Low-quality fleece and grades exhibit these traits: • Excessive guard hair and coarseness • Too short to process • Excessive cotting and matting • Tenderness (unless there is only one tender point, then it could be processed by woolen mills or those portions could be removed from otherwise good fleece) • Over-mature (contains broken, dry brittle, cotted fibers) • Lack of consistency and uniformity of micron and lengths • Undesirable portions were not “Removed to Improve!” Low-quality end products exhibit these traits: • Yarn imperfections and lack of uniformity in twist and grist (thick and thin spots, neps, and noils) • Shedding (fine, broken fibers surface and fall out) continued on page 17
For processed fiber, yarn, roving, and finished products: 1. Local craft and farmers markets 2. Farm stores 3. Speciality and yarn shops 4. Internet sales and web links 5. Speciality kits and advertising promotions 6. Focused and target advertising (i.e., “e-blasts” to specific markets)
©2012 Sue Simonton
• Hairy yarn and products (coarse fibers, guard hairs protruding from twist) • Yarn falling apart due to fiber slippage (lack of enough twist or wrong gauge of yarn for micron) • Yarn over-twisted, too wiry and harsh (use this yarn for weaving projects) • Lack of function for intended purpose, drooping or stretching of garment (the yarn may not have been matched to the correct pattern or knitting gauge, or the yarn is too heavy for the pattern)
Who are your buyers and where are they located?
For raw Suri fleece sales: 1. Co-op and fiber pools 2. Open Market buyers including NASCO, Alpaca United, and Suri Paco 3. Crafters and trade show sales 4. Fiber festivals where many hand-spinners come to buy fleeces
Matching your products to your buyers: • Farmers/Fishermen: Outdoor durable socks, sweaters, vests, mitts, hats, and scarves • Seniors: Lap throws, vests, shawls, knitting and crocheting yarn, novelty yarns, speciality socks, gloves hats, mitts, and scarves • Teens: Funky hats, mitts, scarves, knitting and crocheting kits, and craft kits • Tourists: Kits, luxury items, novelty yarns, shawls, gloves, mitts, scarves, and hats • Speciality groups: Spinners, weavers, knitters, spinners, dyers, felters, crocheters, yarns, batts, felting batts, raw fleeces, dyed locks, locks for dying and felting and weaving, needlepoint yarns, and variegated rovings • Kids and crafts: Raw fleece, dyed locks, rovings, batts, novelty yarns
Matching yarns to patterns and end products
This step is probably one of your most important considerations when taking your path towards producing a superior product. Not all yarns are made the same and certainly not all yarns are made for the same purpose. This is a decision that is often best made with your mill manager’s advice. Let’s look at those Grade 6 fibers with microns of about 30-35. They’re stiff, coarse, and certainly scratchy if they are worn against the skin. They would be very durable and long wearing, but not the choice for soft and light shawl or scarf. Nor would you use your Grade 1 or 2 lace weight yarns to weave a rug that needs to hold up to the constant wear and tear of heavy boots. Strong, thicker microns make durable yarns and core spun yarns that weave into excellent long wearing rugs, whereas fine soft Suri spun into lace weight yarns can be worn continued on next page
against the skin with no prickle factor (if there are not coarse guard hairs sticking out). If you take a heavy three-ply Suri yarn of about Grade 3-4 and knit a thick outdoor sweater, the day will probably come when that sweater will grow or droop unless you have blended in some wool of similar length and micron during processing to add a degree of lightness to the yarn and also to “hold” the Suri fibers so they do not slip in the yarn or garment. No matter if you are a small producer taking your fleece sorts to mills, sending them to your co-op or selling them to a buyer, exceptional fleeces that are expertly prepared and graded will be rewarded financially either by receiving a higher price for your raw fleece or receiving superior yarn or product from the mill. The icing on the cake will be that because you had a plan and a goal for your fiber and used well thought out steps for quality control, you will become a reputable producer and your product will be sought after in the future.
The time has come. Suri alpaca fiber has a future on the world markets. Producers must be prepared to provide only the highest quality Suri fiber clips on a consistent basis to meet the exacting demands of the processors and marketplace. We need to do justice to our animals and our industry.... today. Glossary of Standard Yarn Weights (thickness of yarn): • Afghan weight: Thick weight yarn, usually about 4 stitches to the inch, commonly used for making small blankets called afghans. Number 4, “Medium” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide: • Aran weight: A thick yarn, usually about 4 stitches to the inch, commonly used for making Aran-style designs. Number 4, “Medium,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. • Bulky weight: A very thick weight of yarn, generally less than 3 stitches to the inch. Number 6, “Super Bulky,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide.
Suggested End Products Grade 1
Next To The Skin Wear
Core Spun Rugs
Lace Shawls & Garments
Woven Lock Rugs
Fine Woven & Knitted Fabrics
Brushed Fabrics & Outerwear
Tapestry Yarns & Kits
Brushed Fabric for Suiting
Fine Specialty Felting
Felting And Felting Blends Needlework Kits Grade 1
Soft Next To The Skin
Smooth Durable Lustrous
Very Strong And Durable
Core Spun Yarns
Weft & Novelty Yarns
Durable Rug Yarns
• Chunky weight: An extra thick weight yarn, generally less than 4 stitches to the inch. Number 5, “Bulky,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. • Double Knitting (DK): A medium/lightweight yarn, generally about 5-7 stitches to the inch, commonly called DK weight yarn. Number 3, “Light,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. • Fingering weight: A thin weight yarn, generally 7-9 stitches to the inch, used to make socks, lace, and baby items. Number 1, “Super Fine,” in the Standard Weight System Guide. • Lace weight: A very fine yarn, usually 10 or more stitches to the inch. Not listed on the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide, but it is usually grouped with Number 1, “Super Fine,” since that is the closest group. • Light worsted weight: A medium weight yarn, usually about 4 stitches to the inch, used mostly in the United States. Number 3, “Light,” in the Standard Weight System Guide.
• Sock weight: A thin yarn, usually 7 or more stitches to the inch, used for knitting socks. Number 2, “Fine,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. • Sport Weight: A lightweight yarn, usually 5-6 stitches to the inch, used for making lightweight garments and baby items. Number 2, “Fine,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. • Worsted weight: An all-purpose medium weight yarn, usually about 4 stitches to the inch, used for making a variety of items including sweaters and blankets. Number 4, “Medium,” in the Standard Yarn Weight System Guide. Blending fiber ideas: Textured yarns are made by using fibers of various lengths, character and properties. An example would be Suri and fibers such as cotton, camel, cashmere, angora, yak, qiviut, or bison. Homogenous blends are fibers of similar properties to Suri such as mohair and long wools; continued on next page
©2012 Sue Simonton
Left to right: purple-brushed Suri/silk, variegated 100% bulky 2-ply, 100% Suri lace weight and fingering samples, green cable Suri on brushed Suri fabric background.
cellulose fibers such as hemp, flax and linen; and regenerated fibers such as bamboo, Tencel, seacel, soybean; and manmade fibers such as nylon and polyester. Please see www.surinetwork.org for articles regarding SHIP, Suri Classification and Breed Standards, EPDs, and the Suri Network Fiber Harvesting Code of Practice. l References:
1. Suri network website www.surinetwork.org, and articles by Dick Walker and Kathleen Cullen 2. Grower Adaption of Clip Preparation Standards for Australian Alpaca Fiber, Knox & Lamb 2002. 3. Production, Attributes & Relative Value of Alpaca Fleeces in Southern Australia, B.A. McGregor 2005 4. Spin on Suri, Holt, June 2007 CQ 5. Quality and Processing Performance of Alpaca Fibers, RIRDC 2003 Research papers 6. Standards & Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting, compiled by Yarn Council of America 7. Evaluating the Softness of Animal Fibers, Liu, Wang, Wang, Textile Research Journal 04 8. A Survey of Suri Alpaca Fleece Characteristics, Holt & Scott, 1997 9. Community Mill Textile Technology Manual, Gaston College, 2009 10. Manual of Fiber Processing, International Spinners Ltd 1999 11. Fibre Modification, Australian Wool Innovation, Wool Webb 2010 AUTHOR Donna Rudd Donna is a Certified Camelid Sorter/Grader/Classer and Certified Wool Judge (Olds College, Canada), Mohair Judge, Spin-Off Judge, and Level 6 Master Spinner. She has worked as a International Suri Llama Inspector and teaches spinning, weaving, and felting classes where she specializes in using Suri locks and fibers. Donna has volunteered on the Suri Network Product Development Committee for a number of years and authored the â€œUnderstanding Suri Fiber and Fleeceâ€? seminar and the Suri Alpaca Fiber Harvesting Code of Practice for Suri Network. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
Breeding for the Ultimate Suri:
What I’ve learned over the past 16 years Gail S. Campbell D.V.M.
I have written on the subject of Suri phenotype three times. With every article my thoughts on the “ultimate Suri” change. As the Suri industry has progressed, what were once considered ideal Suri traits have become Suri norms. In essence, Suris have advanced and so have breeders’ standards. In 2010, I used six identifying traits to characterize the Suri phenotype: luster, lock, absence of crimp, slippery handle, elegant profile, and head style. Two years later, I have refined my list because the Suri breed has progressed. What were once considered exemplary Suri traits have become Suri norms. For example, we no longer need to spend time talking about absence of crimp. Most breeding programs have already eliminated crimp from their Suris. My new list has also eliminated previous redundancies; slippery handle accompanies luster and I have combined elegant style and head profile into one category. Photos by Gail S. Campbell, Ameripaca Alpaca Breeding Co., Inc.
continued on next page
The information presented here is personal opinion based on my own experiences, histograms, skin biopsies, and correspondence. While I have served on the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) Judge Training and Certification Committee for many years, I am not a judge. I am a camelid veterinarian who has seriously bred Suris for over 16 years. My goal in this presentation is to stimulate thought on what makes the ultimate Suri. I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and therefore we will not and should not have a cookie-cutter Suri model. The perfect Suri does not exist, but that does not mean there are no standards to be met when breeding Suri alpacas. According to the Suri Network Suri breed standard, there are numerous (over 35) positive Suri traits. As Suris have evolved, I believe there are now five traits that are most critical in a breeding program. These traits are luster, locks, fineness, density, and type. Luster, locks, fineness, and density are all familiar terms. Type, however, is the most subjective and the hardest to define of the traits. In short, type is what one sees when you step back and look at an alpaca as a complete animal. It encompasses external characteristics typical for the breed and, in my mind, includes conformation, coverage, and head style. Despite having a Suri breed standard, preferences for Suri traits vary with each breeder. Each breeder must first define and rank the identifying traits he or she believes characterize the ultimate Suri. Every breeding program will be different because all breeders start with a unique foundation herd and each breeder establishes his or her own ranking system for Suri traits. For example, luster might be one breederâ€™s priority while another breeder might choose lock style as a top priority. In essence, the ultimate Suri is a definition that changes over time as the breed progresses, and is a subjective concept individualized to each breeder. Personally, when making breeding decisions I consider and prioritize degree of luster, lock definition, fineness, density, and type.
Luster is shine caused by the reflection of light off Suri fiber. It is the hallmark of a Suri, one of the distinguishing traits of Suri phenotype. The outer surface of an alpaca fiber consists of a series of cuticle cells or scales that overlap, much like the scales on a fish. The pattern of scales impacts many of the tactile and visual qualities of alpaca fiber. Suri fiber has longer and lower scales than Huacaya fiber, causing it to reflect more light, which results in luster. A person cannot see individual scales, but the hand can feel the silky, smooth quality associated with the longer and lower scales, and the eye can see the higher luster. A high degree of luster should be present both inside and outside of the fleece. If the locks are lifted up on a dusty alpaca, luster should be evident next to the skin.
Dust Line: The line between the clean, lustrous fleece next to the skin and the dirtier, outer fleece.
The line between the clean, lustrous fleece next to the skin and the dirtier outer fleece is called the dust line, often mentioned in judges’ oral reasons for show ring placement. In summary, luster in Suri correlates to longer and lower cuticle scales. I have also seen a correlation between luster and glands that can be seen on a skin biopsy. According to my research on my own herd, Suris with higher gland counts generally exhibit more luster. The terms “fineness” and “handle” are important, but not interchangeable when discussing the Suri. Handle is the degree of softness of a fleece ascertained by touch. For example, an 18-micron fleece without luster feels very soft, but warm. A 21-micron high luster fleece is very soft, cool, and slippery, and may actually feel finer than the 18-micron fleece without luster. In the Suri, the “baby fine” classification has a higher micron than the baby fine classification in the huacaya. A 22–23 micron high-luster Suri fleece with a low coefficient of variation (CV) and tiny pencil locks, will have an excellent hand. CV is an expression of uniformity of the fiber diameter. A 20% CV or lower is considered very good.
breeders can get lost in “fiber jargon.” The important point to remember is that locks are the result of the organization of fibers under the skin. Locks are the physical expression of the uniformity, density, and fineness of the fleece. If Suri fiber is highly aligned and organized into layers of locks originating at the skin, it should be dense, fine, and lustrous.
A. Wave and Twist Locks
This lock type shows a distinct flat wave arising from the skin, which then twists into a pencil lock a short distance away from the body. It is a well-organized lock. Suris exhibiting this lock type are usually fine, dense, and uniform. In a very dense fleece, many layers of these waves stack on top of each other and little skin is showing when the fleece is opened up. High luster accompanies this lock type.
Locks are synonymous with Suris. The formation of locks is probably the most recognized characteristic of Suri phenotype. Locks should be well defined to the skin, independent, and free flowing. The compact grouping of straight fibers into a lock gives the Suri its sleek, draping appearance. Five primary lock types have been identified in the past: wave and twist, pencil, pearl, curl, and straight locks. I believe contemporary superior Suris exhibit primarily only two lock types in the virgin or first fleece, the wave and twist and the pencil. Two other lock types, curled and straight, are demonstrated in the re-growth fleeces (the fleeces that grow after the first shearing), or in less dense fleeces. It might be argued that a study of lock types is a study of semantics. When referencing lock types
Skin biopsy of a wave and twist lock. Note the very tight and symmetrical clusters. Average density is 64.
Wave and twist locks seen from the oustide
Wave and twist locks seen from the inside. continued on next page
B. Pencil and Pearl Locks Pencil locks seen from the outside.
occurs at each point that one lock of hair wrapped over another. The pearl lock type is often seen in dense fleeces or on the neck and is most evident in highly lustrous fleeces.
C. Curled Locks Pencil locks seen from the inside.
A pencil lock forms when small groups of fibers twist together from the skin. These twisted fibers then wrap around each other to form a solid, twisted, ropey lock. This lock type has good organization and feels solid when rolled between the fingers. Pencil locks may be seen in a virgin fleece or often in re-growth of a wave and twist lock. Pencil locks with good density have a tight twist and are composed of hundreds of fibers. Pencil locks have many variations in appearance. For example, pencil locks with less density have less twist. From the outside the wave and twist lock and pencil lock look almost the same. It is only when you lift the locks and look inside the fleece that the difference is obvious. The wave and twist lock begins as an independent wave of tightly compressed fibers, not as a tight pencil next to the skin. It has so many fine fibers that it gets compressed flat against the body— there is simply not room for it to twist right at the skin. Further from the body the wave and twist lock looks identical to the pencil lock and twists tightly. The pencil lock begins twisting right next to the skin. Both of these locks are desirable. The wave and twist tends to be a bit finer and is usually denser. A variation of both of these locks is the pearl lock, because they resemble a strand of pearls. These locks are most often seen on the neck. Pearl locks form when several pencil locks are twisted together and then untwist, resulting in a wave at right angles to the twist. The end result is a bumpy appearance to the lock. A similar effect can be achieved by braiding wet human hair and unraveling it after it is dry. A “bump” 26 PURELYSURI
The curled lock type displays large coils undulating back and forth, which makes the fleece appear to have more volume than it actually does. It is a loosely twisted lock, often seen on the neck. This lock type is rarely exhibited over the entire body in a virgin fleece. If it does appear in a first fleece, one should expect less density. However, curled locks do sometimes appear on the body in re-growth fleeces, after shearing. One might postulate that neck wrestling or rolling loosens the twist of a pencil to form a coil. Excessive grooming with a wand to remove hay from the fleece can temporarily make a curl out of a pencil lock.
Skin biopsy of a curled lock shows fiber clusters not uniform in size, shape, or placement. Density is only 30.
Curled locks seen from the inside.
Curled locks seen from the outside.
D. Straight Locks
The straight lock is the most controversial and misunderstood lock type. This lock is characterized by clusters of straight fibers that are held together with little twist. As in all Suris, no crimp is present. Luster may or may not be present. When seen in a virgin fleece, this lock type has less density and is coarser. However, when straight locks are seen in an older animal, close attention should be paid to the fineness and luster. Many times an older animal that once had pencil locks will display nearly straight locks in later years. A skin biopsy is very valuable in these alpacas to really evaluate their potential. Observing their offspring is also essential. Straight locks seen from the outside.
Skin biopsy shows clusters mostly regular in shape, but irregular in size. Density is only 27.
Concluding Thoughts on Locks
Standing ringside at a show, one sometimes overhears breeders complaining that the judge is only picking one lock type. The traits being recognized in the show ring are fineness, density, uniformity within the lock, consistency of locks throughout the fleece, and lusterâ€”all traits needed for superior fiber. When all these characteristics are grouped together, the result is a tighter lockâ€”the wave and twist or a variation of the pencil lock. It is not that the judges are picking a certain lock type; it is that they are picking characteristics that create a certain lock type.
The best time to evaluate a Suri is at 12-15 months of regrowth because most follicles have developed by 18 months of age. This would necessitate shearing at 6-8 months of age, which would have the added benefit of improving the overall health and welfare of the North American Suri. I have personally noted rapid gains in size and fertility after shearing. Unfortunately, many show Suris are kept in full fleece for over two years, resulting in reduced fertility and even sterility. It is important to remember that as Suris age, their fleeces change. The juvenile wave and twist lock may grow back as a pencil lock. With age, a tight ringlet may become a straight lock. For example, one must not expect a yearling fleece to look the same as a five-year old fleece. Older animals that maintain fineness, luster, density, and staple length should be identified and utilized more in our breeding programs.
3. Fineness Skin biopsy of 16 micron fleece. Fiber clusters are very uniform in size, shape, and placement.
A third trait many breeders focus on today is fineness, which is a measure, in microns, of the diameter of the individual fiber. When a histogram is done on a fleece sample, the fineness is the average of the representative sample. continued on next page
To assess fineness with the naked eye, one can spread the fibers in a lock into an open fan configuration and look at the fibers against a contrasting background. It requires a lot of practice observing these fibers alongside samples of known microns to become accurate at judging fineness. I prefer to send samples to a lab which specializes in fiber measurements, or to do a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy has the advantages of giving the diameter of primary and secondary fibers, the ratio of these fibers to each other, the configuration of clusters of fibers, and the degree of medullation in the secondary fibers. One disadvantage of the skin biopsy is the cost. Microns generally increase with age. A fleece that is 20 microns in a yearling is considered excellent and given the highest point value in a fleece show. In a two-year-old, a micron of 22 is awarded the highest point value. In a five-year-old, 24 microns is exceptional. In general, superior fleeces range from 16-24 microns depending on the age of the alpaca.
piece of skin. An exact measure of density cannot be seen with the naked eye. It can, however, be measured by a skin biopsy. As a breeder, you can gauge the density Outside image of dense fleece. by evaluating the solidity of the lock. A dense fleece has a very solid feel to the lock. Additionally, follicular skin density is positively correlated to fineness. The greatest density is seen in the most highly aligned groups of fibers due to the fact that more Skin biopsy of fleece with fine fibers can squeeze average density of 71.5. into a square millimeter. It is easy to confuse a dense fleece with a fleece of a higher micron because the locks feel solid and heavy. Opening the lock up reveals fewer fibers with higher microns. Density can also be assessed by observing the numbers of layers of locks. Dense, fine fleeces have many layers of locks with little skin showing when the fiber is parted. I find it much easier to evaluate density when the fleece is still on the animal rather than when it is in a bag after shearing.
Second re-growth fleece. 16 microns.
Density is the number of fiber follicles in the skin per unit of measure, usually expressed in millimeters. Density describes the compactness of a fleece, or how many fibers are packed together on a tiny
Young female with very fine dense fleece.
However, dense fleeces aren’t necessarily the heaviest fleeces. That’s because dense fleeces are made up of fine fibers that tend to grow in shorter staple lengths according to a sheep study done in Australia by I.W. Purvis and A.A. Swan of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Type is a grouping of external characteristics that are typical for a breed. A “typey” alpaca has a certain “look” which is created by a combination of correct conformation, fleece coverage, and head style. Correct conformation: Correct conformation is essential to a Suri breeding program. A Suri should have a compact, squared-off appearance with four strong legs set squarely underneath it. The Suri’s head and neck should make up about one third of its height. The Suri should have a level topline with an Young male exhibiting good coverage.
upright, tight-fitting neck that blends smoothly into the back. The topline drops off a little at the croup. A Suri should also have a correct bite with lower incisors that meet the edge of the dental pad. A superior alpaca will have an alert, erect appearance, giving it an air of confidence. It is important to remember that many conformational traits have a low heritability, while most fiber characteristics have a high heritability. Conformation must not be ignored; it is easier to change the fleece than the conformation of a Suri. Fleece coverage: A Suri should have abundant fiber from head to toe. The topknot should be well locked and lay flat against the head. The profile of a Suri should be narrow because the fleece drapes close to the body with heavy, tight locks. Head Style: The head is the first part of the body I consider when looking at a Suri. I believe it is a quick window into its quality. When viewed from the side, a Suri alpaca’s head should be wedge-shaped. When viewed from the front, the muzzle is broad, clear cut, and symmetrical with a properly aligned jaw. ©2012 Jennifer Clark
continued on next page
The ears should be spear-shaped and erect. While the structure of the head for the Huacaya and Suri is identical, the outward appearance is quite different due to the nature of the fiber. The Suri head has a topknot of independent locks that lay flat and forward, forming bangs. The locks of the head and cheeks should continue into the neck. Ideally, locks should drape under the jaw, forming a beard. If the locks on the head are not tightly twisted, I look for looser locks on the body. The nostrils should be almond shaped rather than slitted, like those of a camel.
There are many variations of Suri heads in the North American herd, largely due to individual preferences of our breeders. Certainly, more than one head shape is consistent with Suri fleece characteristics. In 30 PURELYSURI
These photos highlight the similarites in the modern Huacaya and Suri head shape.
studying heads more closely, it becomes apparent that fiber plays a huge role in the appearance of the Suri head. If the topknot is pulled back, the Suri has a dramatic change in appearance. In fact, eliminating the topknot from the picture makes one realize that the head shape of contemporary of Suris and Huacayas are much more similar than one would initially think. Thoughts on Skin Biopsies: In the past I have primarily relied upon lock type, phenotype, and degree of luster to make my breeding decisions. Generally, I have been satisfied with my results. However, there have been more than a handful of breeding pairs that have bewildered me with their offspring. I must admit I was skeptical about skin biopsies. After doing about two dozen this year, I am now a great enthusiast. Some of my breedings have resulted in crias lacking density even though both parents had good density -- or so I thought. Once I studied the skin biopsies I realized that some of the males I thought were dense were actually below average. They had
a high percent of medullation in the secondary fibers and high numbers of glands with good histograms. I believe the medullated fibers and glands made the fleece feel denser than it actually was. I was also pleasantly surprised with other breedings. What I thought was a female with average density had an exquisite cria. When I saw her skin biopsy results, I understood why she had such a great cria; she had no secondary medullation, a fine fleece and density of 71! Without this skin biopsy, I would have, without a doubt, attributed the beautiful cria to the herdsire rather than the dam. Through skin biopsies I have realized that in many cases the female was of higher quality than the male. Alpaca breeders tend to give all the credit to the herdsire. Before making final breeding decisions, one must go back and consider conformation. For example, breeding two alpacas with outstanding skin biopsies together would not be a good idea if they both had weak top lines, or less than perfect bites. Having all subjective data, histograms, and skin biopsy results in one place is very helpful when making breeding decisions. Above is a form I designed to help me see all the data at a glance.
Out of the five traits I have discussed in this article, the three that I personally give the most weight to are luster, lock style, and type. After years of breeding, showing, and studying histograms, I have found that
the animals in my breeding program with the wave and twist lock type exhibit the greatest density, fineness, and luster. These animals also have more typey profiles than other animals in the herd. These are the main traits I select for my breeding program. However, these conclusions are based on my own personal preferences in addition to my research. In order to breed for their ultimate Suri, breeders should establish their own priorities and preferences for Suri phenotype and develop a ranking and evaluation system for their herd. They should then identify the positive and negative traits of their animals as well as the characteristics they need to breed for in order to reach their goals. I believe that with careful selection, monitoring, and exploration, breeders can develop their own successful and competitive herds. l AUTHOR Dr. Gail Campbell, D.V.M. Ameripaca Alpaca Breeding Co., Inc.
Dr. Gail Campbell practiced small animal medicine for 15 years, has been breeding Suris for 16 years, and operates one of the largest alpaca farms on the East Coast. In 1994, she purchased 7 alpacas so her children could learn farm responsibilities. Alpacas quickly became a passion for Gail, and within a year, she and her late husband, Steve, had decided to raise alpacas as a full-time business. She is a past President of Suri Network, served on its Marketing Committee, and edited the first two editions of PurelySuri. Gail served on the AOBA Judge Training and Certification Committee for five years and is currently a judge training conformation instructor.
Magical Mystical Marketing Trick Susan Muther and Hazen Reed
“I need to start selling alpacas, soon! What should I do?”
As marketing consultants throughout our 12-year involvement with the alpaca industry, we have heard this question at least once a week and sometimes several times a day. Clients ask us to provide the “best thing we can do to start selling alpacas.” They often follow this up with, “I don’t have a lot of money and I can’t afford to make costly mistakes. What can you do to help us?” The good news? We can help. The bad news? It is not what you think. We help make it happen but, in the end, it is something you can do for yourself. We have proven techniques for increasing success and improving results, but the answer is something most breeders do not have, and unfortunately, are not willing to undertake. What is this mystical magic marketing trick? We invite you to continued on next page
spend five more minutes and read on. It just may be the single best investment you make this year. At the root of the question most of our customers are asking is an expectation that there is some special sauce or trick that can be employed to propel their business from 0 to 60 in 6.0 seconds. They want us to create something that will make the phone start ringing tomorrow, and cause a line of buyers to drive up to the farm by the weekend with cash in hand. Most clients expect that the answer lies in the next ad they run in a magazine, or the next email they “blast” out. As much as we would love to be able to tell our clients that we will create a single ad or email that will solve all their problems, the hard truth is that most ads, and almost all forms of “outbound marketing,” suffer failing results, and have been for the past 20 years. What is “outbound marketing”? Outbound marketing constitutes the majority of tactics that you are familiar with: printed ads, television, radio ads, direct mail, even email marketing (the way most people use it). All share the idea that your message is going to be so compelling a reader, listener, or viewer will stop whatever they are doing to read, listen, or watch your ad. The hope for these forms of advertising is that they will be able to interrupt you from what you are doing, and get you to pay attention to the ad, TV spot, or radio commercial. Think about the last time you
So if print ads, TV, and other forms of traditional advertising don’t work like they used to, what is a business to do? Look to your list. “My list?” you say… “What is my ‘list’?”
looked closely at an ad in a magazine. (Not this one, silly! We know you will read every ad in here very closely…right? Say no more. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) No, the truth is that the days of interruption marketing are waning. Of course, we still do recom34 PURELYSURI
mend ads for specific clients and for particular parts of marketing plans, but the percentage of budgets we dedicate to interruption advertising is dropping every year. This is true for alpaca clients and the other small and medium sized businesses we work with in other industries. So if print ads, TV, and other forms of traditional advertising don’t work like they used to, what is a business to do? Look to your list. “My list?” you say… “What is my ‘list’?” It is, or should be, one of your most valued and precious assets. Your “list” is the collection of names, addresses, and contact information you have for the folks who have expressed some level of interest in your business. The key here is your business. Buying “leads” or “borrowing” someone else’s list of contacts is, at best, of limited use to you. At worst, it’s quite damaging to your brand. The single most important thing you can do to enhance your marketing and improve your sales effort is to create your own list of contacts. Then never, ever share or give this precious asset to anyone else. And never use someone else’s list. Experienced marketers will readily agree with this recommendation. They know that marketing effectiveness goes up significantly when you speak to people who are interested in what you have to say. Knowledgeable business owners will never share their list of customers, and for good reason. They have spent years and often lots of money “acquiring” these names. They have gained valuable insights into the desires, expectations, and purchase goals of each individual on their list. They also know that they will have much better success selling to these people when
they have a new offer, or special sale they need to promote. The magic of “the list” is that marketing becomes easier the longer you maintain your list. Marketing becomes less costly, and more effective over time. It is an exercise based on messaging to the right set of people, not the most people. You’re probably thinking, “OK, Smart Marketing Consultants, how do I get a list?” The great news is that today there are better tools and techniques for creating your list than at any time in the history of marketing. The bad news is that good lists take time to develop. Oh, and we can’t provide a list for you -- and no reputable agency should give you a list, either. Why? It is simple. You cannot know where these “leads” come from. You will not have any knowledge about the interest of these people to hear or read your message. In fact, most lead lists purchased from or provided free from services and agencies, are old, out of date, and filled with people who absolutely do not care about you, have never heard of you, and will most likely,throw away your direct mail piece or delete your email “blast” faster than you can say “junk mail.” List building can be as simple as keeping a guest book you take to shows, but it’s more effective if it is computerized in some way. The advent of the spreadsheet makes list building much easier and more useful. Google’s new Google Apps offers a free spreadsheet tool you can use, and store in “the “cloud” (meaning it will be available to you wherever you are, as long as you have access to a computer and the Internet.) Storing names and contact information in a spreadsheet allows you to add additional columns of detail that can help you target sub-sets of leads who may be more interested in a specific campaign or message.
For example, let’s say you have a farm day at your ranch next month. If your ranch is in Golden, Colorado, does it make sense to spend any time, money, or effort, trying to get someone in Connecticut to come? (If you answered “no” to that question, give yourself 10 bonus points.) You can sort your list by state, and just send out your message to those folks who live in states that border Colorado. You will be more effective if you do. Better still, when you do have a message that the entire country may be interested in, you will not have annoyed those folks with your local event messaging when the time comes to announce your special alpaca in the upcoming auction. Your list can store information about how you met a person, how many children they have, what their profession is, or was, prior to alpaca breeding. It can, and should, become a center for your business; one that allows you to really know who your customers are and what makes them tick. Collecting this type of information can provide tremendously valuable insight for your business. Over time, you’ll learn what makes one person ©2012 HaSu Ranch Alpacas attracted to your business, and gain possible explanations about why others are no longer buying from you. There is so much you can learn from your list, it will amaze you. You can start your list right now and we mean right now. Open Microsoft Excel, Apple Works, or Google Apps and start a spreadsheet. You’ll be glad you did. There are great tools available in the digital world and many can be tied to your website. Ah, yes, your website. If you are not collecting leads and contacts from your website, why do you have a website? Your website is the single greatest thing you can do for continued on next page
©2012 HaSu Ranch Alpacas
your business, outside of creating your list, of course. And the two should be connected. You may have hundreds of interested visitors to your site every single day. Make it easy for them to contact you and then keep that information safe. Add their names to your list. Or, if you are using one of these new tools, like Constant Contact, aWeber, or Vertical Response, they have forms and tools you can use on your website so anyone who fills out a “request for more information” form or clicks on “sign up for our newsletter” will be automatically added to your list. The list you have on one of these services does not have to be your master list, but it can be. Just make back-ups regularly. If you stop paying for these services, your list may be unreachable. Most of these services do allow you to add to your list, as well, but they make it difficult to add lots of names at one time. They do this to protect themselves, and you. Most will not allow you to load lists of names you have purchased for the same reason mentioned above. Names you purchase are not the names of people who will care about getting a message from you. And, even if you did not purchase your list, these services may determine a list that you upload as a “purchased list.” If you cannot validate where you acquired your con36 PURELYSURI
The idea behind all this is relationship building. tacts, they may prevent you from using any of those names, or worse, cut you off entirely. The idea behind all this is relationship building. You must have permission from a recipient to send them a card, an email, or other marketing messages . Without permission, your messages may be seen as junk or spam, and will be ignored. Or worse, you will be blocked or considered an abuser. So be careful and use only those names that you can prove you have collected. This is one reason it is a great idea to use forms from a service like Constant Contact; the names added through their forms will never be challenged because those people willingly added themselves to your list. They have granted you permission to communicate with them. These services are also great because they can provide you terrific insight into your leads. You will know within minutes of sending out an email campaign that X percentage opened your email. You will know exactly who clicked which links in your email continued on page 38
message, thereby telling you who found what interesting. This is just scratching the surface. Knowing what interested your visitors allows you to target your future marketing messages. For example, a user who clicked a link about Suris in Colorado may also appreciate an article about Suris and cold weather. You have learned something about one of the people on your list. You know more about how to speak to them. Other tools allow you to significantly automate your marketing efforts. Let’s take a quick case study of the life of a “lead.” John Jones searches on Google for “Suri Alpacas in Golden Colorado.” Your website, because it was so well “optimized” for search engines, comes up on the first page of Google’s results. John clicks over to your website and sees your excellent article about raising Suris for profit in Colorado. He fills out the form you have on your site so that he can stay informed about your future words of wisdom. You are notified when John fills out that form. Your first impulse may be to call or email John back right away to tell him about your great Accoyo male. However, looking more closely at what John also clicked on, for example your “Getting Started – What You Need To Know” list, John may not even know what Accoyo is. He doesn’t even really know that much about Suris yet because he is just learning. We say that people in John’s position are at the “top-of-the-sales-funnel.” John and people like John are not ready to buy. They are researching. They are browsing. But if you can keep John informed over the next three months by sending him simple emails about why Suris are so great, what can be done with their fleece, and so on, John will continue to remember you and your business. This type of lead nurturing may sound like work, but with new tools available, it is possible to construct a series of email messages designed to speak directly to folks like John. These can be prepared in advance, and set in a queue so that two days after John fills out your form, another email is sent to him. Five days after that another message is sent. Of course, this is just an example. Frequency, message format, design, and content all can be changed to suit your specific needs and business case. The important part about these tools is that they can significantly reduce the time you spend “cultivating” your list. Automating this type of “lead-nurturing” program is one trick that can pay off in spades because it can 38 PURELYSURI
The money and effort you have put into a website that you do not control or own is lost. Own your site. Own your list. work for you while you are focused on other more qualified leads. Yes, it takes some time to set up and run, but once in place, you can focus on other tasks, knowing that your leads are being nurtured and your list is being cultivated automatically. List building is not difficult, but it does require that you own the process. It requires a website that you own and control, not one of which you are a member. “Affiliate sites” are fine for increasing your reach and expanding your base, but they all should direct visitors to your main website. Forms that are completed on your site must direct contents to you, not to a group or community site webmaster. Without this key capability, a website is useless. Less than useless, really, because it may attract customers that then go elsewhere. The money and effort you have put into a website that you do not control or own is lost. Own your site. Own your list. Owning your site allows you to attract customers to you. Attracting customers to a place where there are dozens of other businesses, just like yours, is risky. What is to stop a potential customer from clicking over to your competitors’ pages? Nothing. You need a website that has your words, your expertise, and your forms (connected to your list). This should be your place to share your knowledge and open up a relationship with a potential customer. Furthermore, and this is really great, your site can help you learn about your visitors’ behaviors, interests, and desires. When you have a fully integrated marketing program in place that allows you to track and analyze visitor behavior data, you can really leverage technology to improve your marketing efficiency. Once you have your integrated marketing tool-kit functioning, and your customer attraction tools are in place -- your website, your forms, your content -- you can start evaluating the leads that come to you through these channels. Again, we are not talking about quantity here. Your goal is to get the right leads. The
©2012 Diane Riffle
quantity of leads you attract may actually be smaller than you might expect, but the quality of those leads should be good, where quality means “likelihood of becoming a customer.” Think about lead evaluation as grading a lead. Higher quality leads, those more likely to buy from you, get a better grade. To calculate a lead grade, start by simply looking at the activities each lead has engaged with you, your site, or your business. Have they visited you at a show? Did they come to a farm day at your farm? Or, for your website, look at how they found your site. Through a search engine? Ad you placed? Affiliate site link? Through social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, or GooglePlus? How many times have they visited your website? What pages of your site have they visited more than once? What can you learn from this pattern? Did they visit the “Getting Started” page five times in the past month? If so, it is a good bet they are trying to learn more, and you could really help them. What “calls-to-action have they taken? Did they download a worksheet you have provided on your site? Did they access a tool you have on your site? Did they request more information on a specific alpaca? All of these questions can help you learn more about a lead, and help you better use your time in following up with the most valuable leads. Those leads that are not getting the same grade are not wasted, though. Using your simple spreadsheet contact list, you could add more columns for each type of “engagement.” Simply adding a “tick” or number each time someone engages with you allows you to add up those ticks over time and see who is grading higher. Pick up the phone and call your highgrade leads, send written invitations to the mid-range grade leads, and place lower grade leads in a longerterm nurturing tool that allows you to cultivate them over time.
Let’s go back to our buddy John for a minute. You recall he filled out that first form on your website. Great! Now he is on your list. A properly configured website will make it possible for you to know if John comes back to your website. You can know all the pages of your site he visits today, tomorrow, next week, and next month. So you thought that John was not interested? Nope. He was just uneducated. He was not ready. But if you could see that John has visited your site 12 times over the past month, and looked at all of your Suris many times over, wouldn’t it be valuable information for you? Do you think that it might make sense to send John an invitation to come out and visit your ranch? Of course, it would. That is incomparable marketing power. Your list can help you learn who to invest time with and who to nurture and move down the sales funnel from prospect to client. List building is part technical, and part art. It takes some skill and some patience. Building a list does take some time, but it should be considered the root of your larger integrated marketing plan that involves positioning yourself as an authority. When you have these fundamentals in place, you can confidently reach out and start incorporating Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, blogs, and other social media sites. You will have the tools at your disposal to evaluate your efforts, and enhance your attraction, and improve your success. Still confused about list building or any of the other topics covered here? Contact Hazen or Susan at BreedWorks. BreedWorks offers extensive marketing tools, tips, articles, and consultation. Sign-up at http://www.BreedWorks.biz. l AUTHORS Susan Muther: Creative Director / Owner Breedworks & HaSu Ranch Alpacas Susan has developed brand identity systems, print materials, websites and interactive marketing solutions for a range of businesses including, among others, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Saatchi & Saatchi, NBC, IBM, Chase, Mobil, Liz Claiborne, and Neiman Marcus. Awards include those from Communication Arts, Print Magazine, AIGA, and Kudos for Design Excellence. Hazen Reed: Managing Director / Owner Breedworks & HaSu Ranch Alpacas Hazen is a veteran of interactive marketing, with works including interactive laser disks, cd-roms, museum installations, e-commerce sites, games, and websites. Clients included Nike, Purina, Nestle, Discovery Health, Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, Novartis, ABC, and more. Hazen has taught at Pratt Institute and New School University.
©2012 Dennis Duenas
11:00 P.M., Sunday: Farm Visit Joe Preston
I know you’re all passionate about alpaca farming, but would you realistically entertain a farm visit at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night? The truth is that you easily could — and should. Business is business, right? So am I pushing night tours as a new twist on alpaca farm marketing? No, of course not. I’m talking about your farm’s website. Potential customers can be getting familiar with what your farm is all about, looking at your animals or store, and getting excited about visiting you from the comfort of their home a hundred miles away — and all while you sleep! Isn’t that a marvel? Yet, from our experience at Openherd with talking to hundreds of farms, you’re more than likely saying to yourself, “It would be a marvel if I ever get my website figured out!” The reasons many farms don’t have a functioning website are either because they don’t really know what a farm website is, or they’ve had difficulty with a previous attempt and gave up at some point in the process. So I’d like to start back at the basics with clearing up what a website is (and is not), then explain the main things you need to have a functioning website, and finally look at different website solutions.
What Is a Website?
I know this is a very basic question, but from our experience people have different ideas about websites. Many people, for instance, think their Openherd profile is their website. Take a look at the diagram below: Openherd.com is like an alpaca show—many
Copyright © 2012 Openherd
1. Website Space
Copyright © 2012 Openherd
farms are represented under one roof and you rent stalls for your animals and set up your marketing table. It’s a great place for exposure, networking, and participating in group activities, but it’s not fully your farm—it’s someone else’s venue. On the other hand, www.yourfarm.com (or whatever your website address would be), is like your real farm. The address goes to a place that is exclusively yours, bears your identity, colors, and feel and you are not competing against other farms for attention. If someone called you up and wanted to visit your farm, would you tell them to meet you at the alpaca show or come to your farm? Which would leave them with a better impression of your farm? So a farm website is not just some informational pages on someone else’s website, but is your own exclusive website with its own unique website address. Marketing is first and foremost about engaging people emotionally. People buy what they want, not what they need (55 million people don’t need an iPad, but they bought one anyway). So when you have your own website, visitors will be fully immersed in your farm experience, and raising their emotional involvement — this makes them far more likely to go the next step and get in touch with you. So now that we have a better idea of what a website is, let’s look at the four main things you need to have a functioning website:
Imagine that you live in a townhouse and want to start a farm. The first thing you’d do is find some land because your current place isn’t set up to be a farm. The same thing goes for a website—you’ll need to rent some hard drive space from a company that specializes in website hosting because your home computer isn’t set up to be a web server. This is where your website files will be kept and served to someone when they visit your website. So this is your “property” for your new website.
Copyright © 2012 Openherd
2. Website Address
Now that you have some land, you decide on a unique name for your farm. Your postal address is the information needed to locate your farm, but once people program this into their GPS or have the way memorized, they won’t need to refer to your postal address any longer—the GPS or memory will take them to your farm. The same thing goes for a unique website address, known as a “domain name.” When you sign up for website hosting, you will get a tempocontinued on next page
rary website address, but it’s not usually very personal or easy to remember. So you’ll find a unique domain name that includes your farm name (i.e., www.yourfarm.com), and register that name with a domain registrar company. Most website hosting companies offer domain registration. Just like programming an address into your GPS, once your domain account has the correct technical information for where to find your website files, your visitors will be able to get to your website by just knowing your domain name, www.yourfarm.com. So this is your “name” for your website.
Copyright © 2012 Openherd
3. Website Design/Construction
Now that you have your land and a unique name for your farm, you’ll need to plan your farm, construct some buildings, and put your alpacas there. The same goes for a website—your website hosting is just empty space until you put something there. Since most people don’t have the skills to design and build their own website, they’ll either hire a company to build one for them or they’ll use “do-it- yourself” software. The former is expensive and the latter can be frustrating and time-consuming. So it’s understandable that many people have attempted a website but gotten stuck at this point. This step completes your “farm” online and you’re ready for business! 44 PURELYSURI
Copyright © 2012 Openherd
4. Website Updates
Now that you have your land, a unique name for your farm, and your property developed into a fully functioning farm, you’ll need to keep it running and in good shape. When visitors come, it’ll need to be attractive, well maintained, and have new alpacas and products to look at. The same goes for a website. The first three points are “pre-business” steps. The only step your potential customers will care about is this fourth one—what your website looks like when they visit it. Imagine what a turnoff it would be if a potential customer pulled up at your farm, the grass was long, a pile of construction materials out front, and the “Summer Sale” sign was up in your farm store even though it’s November! A website that looks outdated, has old information, or hasn’t changed since the last visit is a big turnoff. Part of the emotional appeal in marketing is not just your product but also your personality. People do business with people they like. So if your website has gone to seed, people won’t like the idea of doing business with someone who lets that happen.
If you’re ready to get your own website going, you’re probably wondering, “Where do I get started?” The following website options are the most common ones and I have listed some pros and cons for each:
High-End Custom Website
This approach will give you most of what you want—a completely custom designed website coded from the ground up and tweaked for search engines. However, it’s the most costly way to go (often many thousands), and can take a long time to go through
all the stages of design, review, and production. This type of website often comes with a decent self-editing system, but don’t forget that time is usually a more precious resource than money because everyone only has 24 hours in a day — and you can’t make time back like you can money. So even though you’ll have a “Cadillac” website, you’ll need to make sure you have budgeted the time or personnel to make all the updates yourself on top of what you have to update on other websites.
Low-Budget “Custom” Website
Many people are drawn to these attractively priced “custom” websites, but expect to get what you pay for. While this option may seem good enough, you’ll likely be paying a web person with a slow turnaround time for all your updates. So even though this saves you money up front, you can end up paying a lot of money over time for all of your updates— equivalent to a nicer website that comes with a self-editing system to do your own updates when you want.
If you have website design and coding skills, then this can save you some money and you can make things the way you want them. However, it can be a “time sink” and you may never get it finished with all your other responsibilities on the farm. If you do, you’ll not only be responsible for updating your content, but also your site’s code as new web technologies and standards come out. Also, if your web-building software becomes obsolete, you may have to buy and learn a new program. You probably didn’t leave your previous career to build a website, so unless you want to do this as a part-time job, I would avoid this even if you have the skills because it’ll cost you more time than it’s worth.
Content Management System (CMS) Website
Many farms go with these shared online editing and design template systems because they’re allinclusive and very affordable. Because the website code, templates, and editing system are centrally administered, costs can be kept low and the quality generally high. Plans typically include website hosting, domain registration, email accounts, shopping carts, blogging, and a user-friendly system for editing your pages. You also don’t have to worry about keeping your site’s code current because the company does
this all for you. On top of this you will get technical support if you need help. However, updating your pages—your sales lists especially—is still going to be the same investment of time as all the other options mentioned so far.
Openherd “Fully Synchronized” Website
All of the previous options have their pros and cons, but they all require valuable time to make updates. With marketing you have to be in as many places as possible, but updating a variety of sites separately is a big time burden. So that’s why Openherd pioneered the “fully synchronized” website. It is essentially the same as the CMS option except that you don’t have to make those timeconsuming updates. All you need to do is keep your Openherd pages and sales lists up-to-date and your farm website pulls this information from our database and automatically updates your website. So you get the benefit of great exposure and use of Openherd membership features plus your own website, all in one affordable package. Openherd can even register a domain for you. To learn more, go to www.openherd.com/join/ or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call 724-954-3044 and we’ll be happy to help find the best solution for you. To download a PDF copy of this article and for more information about Openherd websites, go to: www.openherd.com/websites/. If you have any questions or comments about this article, please send an email to email@example.com. Copyright © 2012 Openherd.com. l
AUTHOR Joe Preston Joe Preston is partner of Openherd.com and uses his background in architecture to design alpaca marketing tools that are highly functional and easy to use. He lives in northern California with his wife and three children and loves to travel to alpaca events and meet Openherd members in person.
W W to
The Tisco Medical Clinic
When When we we boarded boarded the the bus bus in in Chivay, Chivay, Peru, Peru, that that morning, morning, II had had no no idea idea what what our our medical medical team team was was going going to to encounter encounter that that day day (other (other than than to to expect expect aa long, long, bumpy bumpy bus bus ride ride to to the the tiny tiny village village of of Tisco Tisco ,,high ,,high in in the the puna puna (grasslands) (grasslands) near near the the source source of of the the Colca Colca River). River). What What would would life life be be like like in in such such an an isolated isolated place? place? How How would would the the native native Quechua Quechua people people respond respond to to outsiders outsiders offering offering to to provide provide medical medical care care to to their their close-knit close-knit community? community? These These questions questions kept kept going going through through my my mind mind as as we we wound wound our our way way toward toward the the top top of of the the Colca Colca Valley. Valley. continued on next page
ÂŠ2012 All Photos by Tim Sheets
Alpaca farm with barn/home and stone paddocks at 15,000 ft.
During the first two weeks of November, 2011, my wife, Beth, and I had the awesome privilege of participating with the Quechua Benefit Medical Team on a campaign to provide medical services to the people of Peru. I coordinated pharmacy activities on one of the two medical teams and Beth helped with the wheelchair team. There were more than 65 volunteers on this trip, making it the largest Quechua Benefit mission trip to date. The motivations of those who served on various teams were as diverse as the volunteers themselves. Many came through deeply held faith and the calling to help those less fortunate, some through a sense of gratitude for the people of Peru for introducing us to our beloved alpacas, and others from a desire to connect with people from another culture and way of life. Whatever the motivation, the individuals came together to serve a common purpose â€“ to help the poorest of the poor. The Quechua Benefit, founded in 1996, is an organization dedicated to helping the Quechua people in the highlands of Peru. The organization delivers medical, dental, and optical care; distributes warm clothing; provides shelter, food, and sociological 48 PURELYSURI
services with an emphasis on children. As a non-denominational, faith-based, nonprofit organization, the Quechua Benefit strives to unite those who feel a call and have a heart to serve the people of Peru. The Quechua people often believe that their spirituality and their physical well-being are one in the same. Through common purpose, the organization seeks to lift up those served from physical, environmental, and spiritual suffering. The medical campaign of 2011 was based in Chivay, a town of 5,000 people at 12,000 ft. above sea level, and a little over 50 miles from Arequipa. From here the teams traveled daily to villages in the Colca Valley. Our team traveled to three villages, most of which had populations less than 500. One of these villages is the town of Tisco. The ride from Chivay to Tisco is a three-hour bus ride, most of which is traveled uphill on narrow, bumpy, unpaved mountain roads with a breathtaking view of the valley. Along the way were beautiful vistas and several alpaca farms (estancias), some with hundreds of alpacas. During the day, the shepherdess drives the alpacas to graze where vegetation is more abundant. We often encountered them along the roadside as they
The 300-year-old church at Tisco
searched for good grazing. Before nightfall, they are driven back for the night to the stone corrals and stone barns with thatched or corrugated steel roofs. Human and animal shelter is one in the same – just a wall dividing the living quarters. According to the Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales (CEPES), the Peruvian Center for Social Studies, the alpaca is the key component to the economy of over 65,000 rural families in the Andean region of Peru. These families are mainly “Pastores Alpaqueros” (Indian herders/breeders) who live in remote areas under extreme poverty conditions. These herders/breeders practice a traditional breeding system that has been passed on from father to son and share the same native environment as the animals they herd. The women, who still maintain the spinning and weaving traditions of their ancestors, make a variety of items (rugs, mats, sweaters, gloves, socks, hats, belts, and jackets) that are either worn by their families or sold at the local market. The Quechua also consume the alpaca’s meat as the main source of protein in their daily diets. Once the Indian herders/breeders obtain what they
need from the alpacas they own (fleece for clothing and meat for food), they travel to local trade fairs and city markets to meet with “Alcanzadores” (pursuers) who buy the alpaca fleece sometimes for money, other times for essential items such as salt, sugar, medicine, candles, and matches. The pursuers, in turn, take the alpaca fleece they have collected to the “Rescatistas” (agents) who themselves purchase the fleece on behalf of the large fiber producers located in cities such as Arequipa. Besides seeing the estancias, our journey also took us past a mountain lake called Lago Condoroma. At over 15,000 feet, it is one of the highest lakes in South America. The lake was surrounded by alpacas grazing in the green vegetation and the waters were inhabited with pink flamingos (not something I expected to see in this part of the world). We finally arrived at the little town of Tisco at 13,750 feet. At this altitude, just a little exertion made me struggle to catch my breath. It was a beautiful, sunny day; commonplace for that area. I later discovered that the climate stays fairly consistent year-round. continued on next page
Alpacas grazing in a marshy area along the road to Tisco Quechua woman and child waiting at clinic
Daytime highs are around 60 degrees F., but the thin air and bright sun makes it seem warmer. Nighttime lows are in the 30’s, except in the coldest winter month of July, when it can drop to the mid-teens. Tisco is a small village of 368 people and is one of the highest settlements in the Colca Valley. Its geographical location, in the midst of a large area of puna and grassland, make this area suitable for raising animals such as llamas, alpacas, sheep, and a few cattle, but little else. The high puna offers a difficult life, with little able to grow apart from a few potatoes. There are no trees and very little natural vegetation. The thin atmosphere and unfiltered sun create a harsh environment for the human inhabitants. As the bus pulled into town that Sunday morning, it looked deserted. I didn’t see a single person on the streets. I thought maybe we were in the wrong town or arrived on the wrong day! As we pulled into the 50 PURELYSURI
town square, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful old church. With its red-tinted exterior set against the deep blue sky, the church was one of the most striking buildings I encountered on the trip. I later found out that the church was built several hundred years ago by members of the order of Dominican monks who lived in the area before their expulsion in the 18th century. Made with local materials, following the characteristics of colonial architecture that can be found throughout the Colca Valley, it is distinguished by its red décor which is made with ochre, a red pigment made from the area’s rich soils. The team leaders finally found our base for the next two days, a fairly modern (by 1960’s standards that is!) medical clinic that is used several times a year to provide medical services to the people of Tisco and surrounding area. As we set up for the clinic, I still did not see any of the town’s inhabitants and was starting to get concerned that we made this long trip for nothing. About that time I heard “morning announcements” streaming in Spanish from the town’s PA system. One-by-one people began showing up at the registration and screening desk. continued on page 52
Old woman after being fitted with wheelchair.
Oscar (kneeling) and his buddies
It was evident by their ruddy faces and rough hands that they endured a harsh life. Obtaining proper nutrition is a common problem in this isolated area. Diet consists mostly of potatoes made into a thin soup. Very little protein is available. Intestinal parasites are also a common problem from unclean water supply. Yet despite their extreme poverty and poor health, they were extremely grateful people. Their smiles were contagious and they always extended a hand in gratitude for even the smallest things we did for them. After learning many of their stories, I reflected on how much I have to be thankful for and take for granted. One of the team members commented that her garden shed is larger and nicer than the “houses” of these special people. One of the joys was being able to provide medical care for a group of school kids brought in from the local elementary school. One little boy named Oscar was pure delight. I could tell that he was very popular among his friends. He was also a real conversationalist. He tried several times to carry on a conversation 52 PURELYSURI
with me in Spanish which I failed at miserably. Some on the team entertained the children with toys, balloons, and games to make their wait go faster. Later in the day I was heartbroken to see an elderly lady being carted up the dirt and cobblestone road to the clinic in a rickety old wheelbarrow. Travel in these areas is not easy even for the healthy and strong, but even more challenging for someone as crippled as she was. Her gnarled body told of a difficult life with few comforts that we take for granted. Watching the transformation in her face as she was carefully removed from the wheelbarrow, fitted with the wheelchair and given instructions on how to use it was so rewarding. It is hard to describe all the gratitude and love we received from the recipients of the services we provided. My wife, Beth, and the entire wheelchair team were blessed so many times by these special people. This was the first time that providing people with wheelchairs was included in the Quechua Benefit medical mission. The chairs were donated through Joni Erickson Tada’s “Wheels for the World” organization. Earlier in the week in Arequipa, we helped pack more than 40 wheelchairs into the bed of small
2011 Mission Participants:
Old woman arriving at clinic in a wheelbarrow for wheelchair fitting
truck that was already loaded with lumber for the boarding school at Casa Chapi. As the truck departed, we watched with concern as the chairs bounced and swayed and wondered if they would survive the twohour drive over a 17,000 foot mountain pass. How relived we were when we arrived at Casa Chapi to see that all of the wheelchairs survived the trip. At the end of the mission, the team had fitted all of the wheelchairs and had taken a few special orders for more chairs, canes, and walkers. As the bus pulled out of Tisco at the end of our final day there, I thought about the people we met and the work that was done there. It was satisfying to realize that the teams had provided medical, dental, and mobility care to 75 very grateful people. But, I struggled with the thought that the services we provided seemed insignificant in the overwhelming world of extremely poor and underprivileged people. As I processed this reality, I came to the conclusion that while it is impossible to help everyone in need, the teams did make a big difference to those people we helped in that tiny town in a remote corner of the world. These often forgotten people were grateful that we had come from thousands of miles away and from a cultural gap
More than 65 people from four countries worked in 10 Peruvian villages on the mission which required government approval from four government agencies. Prior to the mission, Alejandro Tejeda, project manager for Quechua Benefit in Peru, spent seven days with a Peruvian Optometrist screening 390 potential cataract patients. The Australian Insight Peru eye care team saw 702 patients, the dental team saw 197 patients, and the combined Canadian and U.S. medical team saw 916 patients. There were 447 children seen by the pediatricians alone and in addition there were a total of 105 ultrasounds performed, and 40 wheelchairs fitted. A grand total of 2,349 people were served. In Tisco, a total of 71 patients were seen by Dr. Jim Anderson and Dr. Rhonda Deschner, 27 of which were children. Twenty-one patients received dental work from Dr. Wayne Jarvis and his team. Four wheelchairs were fitted by Angie Kidd and her team consisting of her brother Jack Greider, and Beth Sheets. More information about the Quechua Benefit can be found at www.QuechuaBenefit.org. a thousand miles apart to care enough to reach out to them. It was then that I realized that the journey to Tisco and the people we experienced there were the highlight of my trip. I came to love the Quechua and look forward to being able to return to serve them again. Tim Sheets and his wife, Beth, were proud to serve on medical teams during the 2011 Quechua Benefit mission to the Colca Valley in Peru. Together they own Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas in central Indiana. l AUTHOR TIM SHEETS Along with my wife, Beth, we own Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas in central Indiana. We have two adult children, Michael and Jennifer, and two beautiful granddaughters. We have been raising Suri alpacas for 9 years and have been on next page active members of the Suri Network.continued I have been involved in local 4-H and FFA groups in encouraging an interest and involvement with alpacas.
ÂŠ2012 David & Brenda Barboza
Alpaca Youth Judging Contests Who will be the next generation of producers in animal agriculture and where will they come from? These are difficult questions to answer because the demographics of the livestock industry will change over time. One thing is for certain: in 10â€“30 years the youth who are age 8-18 today will be leaders in our country. Will they choose livestock as their passion and profession? If they do, will alpacas be an option for them, and will they even know that alpacas are the best, sustainable livestock breed? This is something we must be addressing today if we are to have the farmers and ranchers of the future involved in the alpaca industry. The questions are: How do we attract youth to alpacas? And how do we compete with traditional breeds? One of the solutions is youth alpaca judging contests. Livestock judging contests have been conducted
for many generations. Chapters of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) have thousands of contests every year from county fairs to national competitions. At the college level, teams travel all across this great country to compete. Currently, alpacas are not in the breeds that are judged in these competitions. We need to make this change and get alpacas integrated in with traditional breeds. Additionally, as an industry we must grasp youth judging contests and take a leadership role by hosting our own alpaca youth judging contests. This is the starting point. Over the past three years there have been several shows that hosted a youth judging contest during their regular shows. The Great Western Alpaca Show (GWAS), Ohio Alpaca Breeders Association (OABA) Fall Festival, Indiana Invitational, and the Hi-Plains Show all have hosted competitions, some for several
years. These have been very well received and have introduced several young competitors to livestock judging. It is important to know that not only are these contests good for the industry in terms of the promotion of alpacas, but they also teach very valuable skills to our youth. To be a successful livestock judge you must develop reasoning skills, memory skills, public speaking skills, and the ability to physically assess livestock—to name a few of the skills that youth competitors must learn. So what are the benefits of hosting a youth judging contest? As mentioned above, contests attract young people interested in animal agriculture to see alpacas as the best sustainable livestock breed. They add additional activities for youth during the show. Youth involved in these contests develop lifelong skills that can be used outside of agriculture in any field of study. Many major universities have judging teams and several offer scholarships for students who participate on the judging team. This is the way to train future judges for our industry, by giving participants judging experience starting at a young age. Having alpaca judging contests will help our industry compete with other breeds by putting alpacas in front of contestants who would otherwise only judge traditional breeds. What are the logistics of having a contest? As with any event, there needs to be an organizer. This is the person who makes sure everything comes together. A volunteer needs to be charged with selecting the animals for the contest. Groups of four animals are judged; ideally there should be two Huacaya groups and two Suri groups. To make the groups easier to score, each group should have a clear first and a clear fourth place alpaca; the middle pair can be similar. These groups must be selected before the contest and all requirements must be met so they can come into the host facility. An Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) judge, using the current AOBA show judging criteria, should be used to place and set the cuts for scoring. Cuts are the relative difference in the animals which affect how scoring occurs. A judge who will hear the contestants’ oral reasons and will score
©2012 David & Brenda Barboza
them needs to be assigned. While a computer program does the scoring, someone must be in charge of maintaining the scorecards and official score. This sounds like a lot of work but some of these positions can be combined. Finally, as with any other contest or show, the show needs sponsors to offset costs and provide awards for the winners. The effort that goes into these contests is rewarded by the growth and development of the youth who participate. Many of these contestants could go on and judge traditional livestock, and may never be able to appreciate how alpacas can be integrated into their program without these contests. Alpaca judging contests are an excellent tool to promote the alpaca industry and provide a great way for our youth to be exposed to animal agriculture. This is a very costeffective tool to promote the alpaca industry and, at the same time, provide a wonderful opportunity for our youth to experience alpacas as the world’s finest livestock. l AUTHOR David Barboza David is certified in both IAJS and AOBA as a halter, fleece and performance judge. He also served a three-year term on the AOBA board as Secretary and President. David has been instrumental in developing alpaca youth judging contests throughout the U.S. David and his wife, Brenda, run their ranch, RanchoNC Alpacas, in the foothills of Northern California, and ACE, Alpaca Continuing Educationsm, which provides cutting-edge training for the alpaca breeder.
BREEDING FORSURI FIBER IN THE COMMERCIAL MARKET
$917.32: This is the “per pound” world record auction price paid by Loro Piana in 2011 for the finest bale of raw, greasy, merino wool. $12.00: This is the “per pound” price paid cur-
rently by U.S. wholesalers for ultra-fine raw Suri fiber. So, what are the differences driving the two prices? How do U.S. Suri breeders achieve a higher price for their fiber? And, how do we translate our individual breeding goals, which, to date, have largely focused on “fiber for show,” into “fiber for market”? There are, of course, many factors that go into determining the price of any lot of fiber – marketing and image creation each play a huge role. In the case of wool, the merino industry has done a terrific job of promoting its fiber as something special and luxurious. But there needs to be some “meat” behind the marketing for any campaign to provide sustainability of the message. And, indeed, the merino industry has also done an outstanding job of encouraging and educating its growers to produce quality fiber for commercial sale. In turn, growers continued on next page
©2012 Liz Vahlkamp
©2012 Liz Vahlkamp
have had the opportunity to generate greater revenue. So what can we do, as individual Suri growers, to create greater revenue for our fiber and create that lasting image of luxury?
Characteristics of Suri in the Commercial Market
The following is a list of some of the fiber characteristics that influence commercial buyers’ valuation of fiber:
Uniformity of Micron
The uniformity of any bale of fiber is a critical component of determining its value. For Suri, in today’s commercial market, this is one of the key factors in determining price. Uniformity of micron plays a role for three primary and equally important reasons: • The greater the uniformity, the easier it is to process (lower cost). • The greater the uniformity, the better the durability and quality of the end product (higher revenue potential to the manufacturer). • The greater the uniformity, the better the handle (higher revenue potential). Some studies suggest that uniform Suri can improve the feel of the end product by up to two microns. So, extreme uniformity on a reasonably fine-fibered animal will greatly improve the overall handle, while still providing the strength and character of a slightly higher micron. 60 PURELYSURI
Additionally, uniformity of micron will impact the price of a bale of fiber at ALL grade levels! And on a “per fleece” basis, uniformity plays a large role in determining what grade a particular fleece falls into. While your histogram may show a mean fiber diameter (MFD) of 21, if there is poor uniformity, it is likely that the fleece will be graded down, and a lesser price will be paid. As such, uniformity should be placed at the top of the list of any U.S. breeding program. So how do we assess uniformity? Instead of looking at the MFD, you can consider the Standard Deviation (SD) and Coefficient of Variation (CV). The CV is a “neutralizing” equation for the standard deviation of each fleece sample – that is, it allows a buyer to assess the variance within a fleece sample or bale, regardless of micron average. As such, buyers most often use the CV over the SD when assessing bale qualities. The CV should ideally be at or below 20, and the lower it goes, the greater the value of the fleece or bale. Skin biopsy data is another way to assess the uniformity. The narrower the micron spread between primary and secondary fibers, the more uniform the fiber. Ideally, a micron spread below six is desired, though the current average for Suris in the U.S. is several notches higher.
Luster... another component to Suri that commercial buyers look for, and is considered one of the top three features that are evaluated when determining price. Luster
This is another component to Suri that commercial buyers look for, and is considered one of the top three features that are evaluated when determining price. While luster is not categorized or quantified, buyers expect to see it in a bale, and will devalue the
©2012 Liz Vahlkamp
bale if they don’t find its presence. Note that buyers link the amount of vegetable matter and other debris found in the fleece with their evaluation of luster. This is because commercial processing most often uses the technique of carbonization to rid the fiber of all foreign matter. However, extensive carbonization will remove luster. In a study of mohair buyers (mohair being a similar fiber to Suri), bales of fiber with more than 2% vegetable matter lost up to 80% of their value because of the prospect of losing the highly sought after trait of luster.”
There is no doubt that lower micron drives higher price – this is a truism across all fibers, and studies have shown that for most species it carries the greatest weight in determining the price of any useable fiber bale. The merino bale, referenced above, averaged 11.2 microns, while the average merino clip is typically 18-22 microns. However, there are a few “words of caution” to the topic of fineness as relates to Suri. • Buyers of Suri for commercial production, in today’s market, divide their pricing into only three categories – a premium for fiber below 22 microns, an average value for fiber 22-26 microns,
and a lesser value for fiber 27-30 microns. Today, fineness takes a backseat to uniformity and luster. There are a couple of factors possibly driving this: • Currently, the majority of Suri is processed into brushed fabric for outerwear – blazers, capes, and winter coats. These are all garments that do not hold up with ultra-fine fiber, but instead, are ideally processed on a blended basis at 26 microns. • Suri is a rare fiber even when aggregated worldwide. Considering that ultra-fine Suri (< 20 microns) is even less common, and uniform, ultra-fine Suri is even more difficult to come by, it may be argued that there is not enough yet to create a viable commercial market. In the United States and Australia, there is a small but active and growing market for the ultra-fine fiber, and thus, a greater premium is placed on that category. It is reasonable to think, with the number of focused breeding programs and knowledgeable Suri growers we have in the United States, that the quanity of high quality, fine Suri could increase, and that we could carve out our own space in the luxury fiber market. • Lastly, 11.2 micron wool bale, the sheep that produced that fiber were kept in extreme conditions, and this author is in no way suggesting that any alpaca breeder take such extreme measures to lower the micron.
Other factors that can impact the valuation of Suri include: • Style and character – commercial processors look for uniform style of moderate character, with all locks taking the same shape from the cut end to the tip. • Fiber length – both average length and uniformity of length within the bale. • Color – while white continues to carry a price premium over color for all commercial fibers, uniformity of color is also critical. • Percentage of vegetable matter, as noted earlier. • Cotting – a study of mohair indicated that buyers would not even consider pricing a bale that carried heavy cotting. • Stains, impurities, and tenderness. continued on next page
How to Transition from Show to Market?
As I consider the possibility of our industry transitioning from purely “show” production to offering “market” production, there appear to be two components to meeting this challenge: what characteristics we breed for, and how we set our breeding goals.
What Characteristics We Breed For
I often hear growers comment that it seems that the criteria in halter classes or fleece shows is not representative of what the commercial market looks for. However, a review of a fleece show scorecard indicates that while not matching up completely, the components looked at by commercial buyers are, indeed, represented on the scorecard. The current show scorecard is represented as such in order of points: Characteristic
Number of Points
Uniformity of micron, length, color
Fineness and Handle (again, uniformity of micron)
Style of lock
Impurities, Damage, Kemp
With the exception of weight and density, these traits are also ones found in the Suri Network Breed Standard. As such, one could conclude that the tools are there to guide us into the commercial market. Perhaps there are a few changes to be made to the scoring or categories if our industry decides to lean heavily on market production, but by and large, the tools are there. 62 PURELYSURI
©2012 Jerry Sparagowski
How We Set Our Breeding Goals
As I see it, here lies the biggest disconnect between breeding for show and breeding for the fiber market. The show ring (or fleece show) rewards individual animals; if you win big with one male, you’ll advertise like crazy, sell breedings, and make a name for yourself in our industry. The commercial fiber market rewards entire fiber clips; you may have the best single fleece in the country, but if the rest of your clip is mediocre, you will not reap any benefits. Note that the top selling merino bale was approximately 200 pounds, which would require a minimum of 50 alpaca fleeces (assuming 4 pounds per animal and the entire blanket of each animal falling into the same micron level!). As a result of the rewards given to single animals in the show ring, breeding is often done by pairing individual animals – “I think pairing Herdsire A with Dam C might give me that winning offspring I’ve been dreaming of!” While breeding for the fiber market is generally done by putting one male over an
My Personal Observations
©2012 Liz Vahlkamp
entire herd of females – “my goal for the next three years is to bring down my herd’s average micron below 24, so I will use Herdsire B over my entire herd for the next three years.” By taking this approach, the breeder also begins to build uniformity of any one trait or group of traits across the whole herd (there’s that word “uniformity” again). This is also where expected progeny differences (EPDs) come into play. Remember, the EPD numbers represent averages. If Herdsire A has an EPD which shows he reduces micron in his offspring by one, that is an average and can only be experienced by putting him over a group of animals. You will not be able to promise someone who buys one breeding from you that the offspring’s micron count will reduce by one! But, for breeding in the commercial market, the implications of EPD numbers are strong and can help make significant strides in changing any one fiber trait in a herd in a short period of time.
As someone who has spent the last year grading fiber for many farms, large and small, I feel confident in saying that while our national herd has many fine features, and I am quite proud of what we have achieved, uniformity of fiber across entire herds is definitely lacking. Again, that uniformity can include micron, style, length, color, etc. The lack of uniformity causes several hurdles to offering a maximum price per pound: 1. It slows down grading (resulting in increased cost) 2. It results in lower quality 3. It results in too many sorts (think six grades x three fiber lengths x 6 colors, or 108 categories) 4. Which in turn reduces the quantity of any one batch being processed (resulting in higher cost) Our national fiber clip has come a long way since the days of importations, and the tools are in place to guide us into the commercial market. Viewing our animals collectively, and setting our goals around uniformity, luster, and fineness at all levels within the herd will prepare us for the broader commercial market. It will assist all of us in driving better prices for our fiber and build recognition that the United States is producing some of the finest Suris in the world. l 1 Goat Notes G8: How Mohair is Valued, Bruce McGregor, 2000
AUTHOR Liz Vahlkamp, Salt River Alpacas Liz has raised alpacas for eight years and is the past chairperson for the Suri Network Product Development Committee (SNPDC). Liz has published numerous articles in PurelySuri on behalf of the SNPDC, and is now starting up the North American Suri Company, a company dedicated to purchasing, processing and marketing North American Suri fiber to the fiber arts and textile communities.
The New Rules of Marketing Alpacas
Have you found it harder and harder to generate prospect inquiries and get them to visit your farm? The world is changing and the world of marketing alpacas is no different. The ways you got your farm and alpacas known in the past may no longer be as effective at drawing prospective buyers. The Internet is one driving factor, but there’s more. Here are some of the new rules in the business of marketing and selling alpacas. Know more about your target audience. I like to say, “Know me, or no me.” You must know what type of buyer your alpaca business is best suited to serve. Are they first time buyers, existing breeders building a herd, families looking for easy-to-train show animals, or retirees? With that in mind, determine the 64 PURELYSURI
ways your target searches for breeders with animals in which they have an interest. Though a prospect may become aware of alpacas by driving by a field of them, there will be other ways they search the industry and for specific farms to visit. Learn what they are, and then be there. Mix traditional and new media marketing. Erik Qualman, who wrote a book called Socialnomics, says people now trust online reviews 70% more than advertising. Though a general statement, it is time to think about what traditional marketing methods still work, and those you need to update so prospects can move beyond awareness to taking the action to contact you for more information and a farm visit. One way to begin to figure this out is to source every inquiry you receive. Ask, “What are the ways you heard
©2012 Dennis Duenas
about us?” Log their answers and watch for patterns that will show you which marketing activities are working to generate your best inquiries. Follow up with purpose. If you have followed me for long or been in my seminars, you know I believe: “The fortune is in the follow-up.” However, follow-up must be strategic, well timed, and done in a way that makes the recipient receptive. Make sure you contact your prospects with information of value to them. For instance, if they are concerned about how to select quality animals, send them a checklist on doing so, or email them a link to a similar page on your website. Make sure whatever you send them lists your name, farm name, phone number, and web address as the source of this helpful information. Use a contact management
system for regular follow-up calls and mailings to potential buyers. When you follow up well, you build the kind of relationships that make sales conversion easier. And even if they do not ultimately buy from you, good follow up can yield a valuable referral source. There are buyers out there, and breeders are selling alpacas and breedings regardless of economic conditions. The ones that are most successful are following the new rules of marketing alpacas to do it. You can, too. l AUTHOR Julie Wassom Owner of Grand Champion Marketing in Aurora, Colorado, Julie is the author of “101 Ways to Market and Sell Your Alpacas,” available at www.juliewassom.com. She can be reached at 303-693-2306 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie was a featured speaker at the Suri Network 2012 Summer Symposium in Estes Park.
Diagnosis of Diarrhea in Camelids
Pamela G. Walker, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M
Crias can lose significant body weight (10 – 14%) in 24 hours and be in critical condition prior to owner recognition.
Diarrhea in camelid crias can be a very frustrating situation for both owners and veterinarians. Crias can lose significant body weight (10– 14%) in 24 hours and be in critical condition prior to owner recognition. Many causes of diarrhea in crias have been reported, including Cryptosporidium spp,1 Giardia spp,2 Coronavirus/Rotavirus,3 bacterial,2 and Eimeria spp.4 Cryptosporidium parvum occurs in calves greater than 7 days of age, but in crias it can be as early as 4-5 days of age. Giardia spp can occur in crias as early as 14 days of age and is correlated most often with periods of high rainfall or problems with run-off water. Eimeria spp can be seen as early as 21 days of age4 with Eimeria macusaniensis occurring as early as 36-40 days of age.5 Diarrhea in crias less than 4 days of age is most likely to be either nutritional (especially if bottle fed) or due to Gram negative infections. Cryptosporidium – Diarrhea in crias caused by Cryptosporidium spp can cause profuse, liquid, green, uniquely foul smelling diarrhea with some crias rapidly losing body weight (10-14%) requiring continued on next page
ÂŠ2012 Linda Kondris
©2012 Dennis Duenas
aggressive treatment with IV fluids. There are several ways to diagnosis Cryptosporidium in feces; one reliable method can readily be done on the farm and does not need to be sent to a lab. A specialized immunoassay has been developed (for humans) but can be used in camelids. The test, ImmunoCard STAT! for Crypto/ Giardia (Meridian Bioscience in Cincinnati, Ohio), is very easy to use with results in 10 minutes at a cost of about $25 per card. The author has provided the company with positive samples for several years. Those samples are retested with an even more specialized test at their lab with all the samples testing positive. There are no labeled treatments for Cryptosporidium but many different drugs have been proposed, some with more success and others with more toxicity. Paromomycin (Humatin®) is a nonabsorbable antibiotic that is used in cats,8 calves,9 and immunocompromised humans7 in an attempt to treat Cryptosporidium. Trials showed the diarrhea improved more with the drug than with the placebo7 and there was a significant reduction of Cryptosporidium oocysts in lambs after being treated with Humatin®10. In the author’s experience, with natural occurring cases of 68 PURELYSURI
diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium, use of Humatin® at 23 mg/lb, orally for 5 to 10 days has been very successful in shortening the duration and severity of diarrhea in crias. Other drugs used to treat diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium (lasalocid, nitazoxanide, decoquinate or halofuginone) have a narrow margin of safety when used with camelids or access to the drug is limited. Giardia – Giardia causes soft, runny, slimy, slightly green feces that may have a frothy appearance, on occasion it can result in profuse, watery
Giardia is seen on farms where run-off water is a problem or when water accumulates from use of hoses and sprinklers to cool off the animals in the summer.
diarrhea. Some crias will exhibit consistent straining to defecate before the onset of diarrhea. Giardia cysts can be difficult to find in fecal floatations, using the ImmunoCard STAT! for Crypto/Giardia is more reliable with quick results. Giardia is seen on farms where run-off water is a problem or when water accumulates from use of hoses and sprinklers to cool off the animals in the summer. The dams will lie in the puddles, contaminating their udders, then the crias will nurse and ingest the oocysts if present. Also, crias seem to have an affinity for water puddles! Diarrhea from Giardia is usually seen in fall and spring, but the oocysts can overwinter and survive at 39Âş F for several months. Once ingested, the organism invades the small intestines causing the cells of the intestines to regress and be unable to absorb fluid, causing diarrhea. Giardia (and Cryptosporidium) diarrhea is an unusual finding in adults unless their immune system is already compromised. Both Giardia and Cryptosporidium can be present on farms with overcrowded barns and pastures with a large population of young, immunologically naĂŻve animals.11 While this is true, the curious and very oral nature of an active cria also contributes to exposure to many parasites. Camelid crias can be treated with Panacur/ Safeguard at 23 mg/lb, orally, daily for 5 days for diarrhea caused by Giardia. The author has also used Metronidazole at 23 mg/ lb, orally, twice daily for 5â€“7 days without any problems, but only use in crias less than 2 months of age. Diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium and Giardia can be very frustrating and costly on some camelid farms. Most camelid owners clean their barns and even pastures daily, sometimes twice daily and are frustrated by still having crias develop diarrhea. Several studies have looked at many farm populations of ruminants (llamas, cows, sheep, goats) and concluded that farms with larger numbers ruminant neonates born the previous year would result in larger numbers of yearlings, providing animals continued on next page
to shed the parasites, keeping continual exposure for young crias.2 Supporting the idea that neonates of many ruminant species are exposed to these parasites by subclinical carriers. There is no reason to conclude camelid farms would be different. Viral diarrhea â€“ Both coronavirus and rotavirus have been recognized as causes of diarrhea in crias for many years.13,14 Researchers in Peru have determined that crias as young as 2 days of age can have severe diarrhea caused by rotavirus. In the same survey, it was determined that all the adult guanacos sampled were positive for antibodies to rotavirus (Peru).3 We are also seeing diarrhea caused by both coronavirus and rotavirus on alpaca farms in North America.11 Recently the alpaca coronavirus (ACoV) was analyzed and determined to be closely related to bovine coronavirus.15 In an attempt to prevent viral diarrhea, alpaca owners are using oral vaccines made for 70 PURELYSURI
calves; these vaccines are given orally to the newborn cria before nursing. Based on these findings and clinical experience, it appears as if these vaccines should be effective. The author has been using Pfizerâ€™s CalfGuardÂŽ 3 mL, orally at birth before the cria nurses for many years without problems and with a decrease of apparent viral diarrhea. In past years in the United States, alpaca owners have become very familiar with viral diarrhea. There have been several post-show outbreaks of both coronaviral and rotaviral diarrhea 3-5 days after returning from different shows. Most of these cases were self-limiting and could be controlled with common anti-diarrheal drugs (Kaolin, Imodium); however, several fatalities also occurred (personal communication). In neonates, viral diarrhea tends to be high volume and high frequency and frequently requires intravenous fluids to maintain hydration in addition to other supportive care. Diagnosis is made
©2012 Matt & Micki Colloton
by submitting fresh feces for electron microscopy (EM) testing. It is important to rule out other pathogens that may also be present as is the case in calves. Bacteria diarrhea – E. coli and Clostridium perfringens spp can cause diarrhea in crias, however Salmonella spp is not common.2,10 E. coli diarrhea is often associated with neonatal sepsis and can be secondary to failure of passive transfer.16 E. coli diarrhea can also occur secondary to viral diarrhea in older neonates. E. coli diarrhea typically occurs between 3-7 days of age, usually before any of the other more common causes of diarrhea can start. The diarrhea may be profuse and liquid, with the cria very lethargic and may have abdominal distension. Crias can have low white blood cells, but unlike calves, crias usually have increased sodium concentration in the blood.17 If the cria is also septic (bacteria and toxins in the blood), blood glucose is usually low, but glucose
concentration should always be verified (use handheld glucometer) before any dextrose is administered as the cria may be hyperglycemic. Treatment should be aimed at correcting the dehydration and electrolyte imbalances and broad spectrum antibiotics administered. Many owners use oral vaccines made for calves to prevent diarrhea caused by E. coli. For years, the author has used Boehringer Ingelheim’s Bar-guard 99®, 3 mL, PO 3 to 5 hours after birth without problems. Clostridium perfringens type A and C enterotoxemia typically cause sudden death due to production of toxins before diarrhea can be seen. In Peru, this is considered to be the most serious disease in crias.24 However, what seems to be more likely in Peru is that death due to Clostridium perfringens type A is secondary to E. macusaniensis (E. mac) infection. The crias are exposed to abundant E. mac as neonates, with early infection and damage to the gastrointestinal tract. This damage allows C. perfringens type A to invade, causing septicemia and death 32-40 days later.31 It is reported to affect crias in good condition, between 3-80 days of age, especially during wet conditions.24 In North America, death due to Clostridium perfringens type A is frequently misdiagnosed. In the lay literature there have been many reports of outbreaks of deaths of crias due to Clostridium perfringens type A. The reports did not always clarify how the diagnosis was made. It is common to see type A isolated from the GI tract in most necropsy reports as it is considered to be normal flora and proliferates quickly after death. Necropsy within two hours of death, isolation of the gene for the toxin (Beta 2) produced by type A, and characteristic lesions in the bowel are required for diagnosis of type A. If there is an accurate diagnosis of problems due to type A, the cattle vaccine made by Novartis can be tried. Research has shown titers developed (immune response) in response to the vaccine given to alpacas. However, it is unknown if the vaccine would be protective. One farm in California had confirmed cases of death of crias due to Clostridium perfringens type A and routinely administered metronidazole to crias 2-30 days of age.24 The author has had two cases of Clostridium perfringens type A secondary to coronavirus diarrhea in weanling crias. Both crias were given Procaine Penicillin G 20,000 continued on next page
IU/lb, SQ, daily until the diarrhea resolved. Neither cria had any side effects and both fully recovered. Coccidiosis – There are six species of Eimeria currently recognized that can infect camelids. Diarrhea from “regular” coccidia (E. alpacae, E. lamae, E. punoensis, E. peruviana)18 can occur as early as 21 days of age. E. macusaniensis (E. mac) or large coccidia has a longer life cycle, with a prepatent period of 32-36 days.5 Concurrent, fatal infection with E. ivitaensis (another type of large coccidia) has also been known to occur.19 Diarrhea from coccidia is rare in adults, with the exception of E. mac that can cause debilitating, even fatal disease in naïve animals, even before the development of diarrhea. “Regular” coccidia can be easily diagnosed with fecal floatation. E. mac can be more difficult to find unless proper fecal analysis is used, sometimes serial analysis of fecal samples are required. A recent article comparing several techniques and floatation times concluded that the centrifugation-floatation technique, using concentrated sugar (specific gravity = 1.27) and a 60-minute floatation time was superior in detecting parasites that have the potential for causing problems in camelids.20 Treatment of “regular” coccidia is Sulfadimethoxine – Day 1: 25 mg/lb, orally, Daily; and Days 2-5: 13 mg/lb, orally, Daily (crias < 3 months only), OR Amprolium (Corid®) 22 mg/lb, orally, Daily X 5 days. With either treatment, the animal needs to be monitored for signs of Polioencephalmalacia (depression, blindness). Both “regular” coccidia and E. mac can produce a dark brown/black diarrhea. Usually it is a low-volume diarrhea, but with E. mac there may be significant diarrhea, especially in adults. Ponazuril (Toltrazuril-sulfone - Marquis®) has been used for several years to treat E. mac infections. No direct research has been done on camelids to date. Absorption of Ponazuril in calves has been determined to be rapid with serum concentration apparent at day two of treatment. This information suggests that Ponazuril would be absorbed in camelids and could be used to treat E. mac infections. The current recommendation is to treat with Ponazuril 9 mg/lb (1 mL/10 lb of diluted product), orally, Daily X 3 days. Sulfas and Corid® are only effective in the earliest stages of the infection. These stages are generally already past 72 PURELYSURI
when the oocysts are found in feces. Because E. mac can cause clinical disease, even death before oocysts are present in feces,23 prophylactic treatment with Ponazuril should be considered in camelids that have unexplained weight loss with concurrent low blood protein and without severe anemia. Marquis® is too concentrated to be given to camelids and should be diluted before administered. The pharmacist at Ohio State University recommends diluting the paste to 100 mg/mL by taking 40 mL of paste, adding 20 mL of distilled water to 60 mL total, and mixing well. It is water soluble and can be easily syringed orally. Baycox® (Toltrazuril), a related drug not approved for use in the United States, has been used for several years by camelid owners for the treatment of E. mac. Information provided to the author by Bayer demonstrated good absorption in cattle with only one dose. This drug, made for piglets, would also work to treat E.mac at 9 mg/lb (1.8 mL/10 lb), orally, once. All crias should be weighed several times per week until about 50 lbs., then weekly until weaning. Weight should also be monitored weekly after weaning and other times of stress (shows, transport, etc.). Initially crias with mild to moderate diarrhea may not show lethargy. Unless the owners are weighing the crias often, they may not be aware of a significant loss in weight (1-2 lbs). In some situations the caretaker may be unaware the cria has diarrhea unless they are closely monitoring the cria, as the projectile nature of some diarrhea will not initially cause any staining of the rectal area or fiber on legs. The characteristic of the feces can range from soft formed pellets to watery, projectile diarrhea. Due to the severity and rapidity of onset, it is important to attempt an “on the farm” diagnosis. It is also important to assess the degree of dehydration. It can be hard to determine dehydration in crias as they can have dry mucous membranes even if healthy and you cannot tent their skin as in other ruminants. Blanching the gums and counting the seconds for the pink to return (capillary refill time should be < 2 to 3 sec) and analysis of daily weights are the best way to determine dehydration on the farm. Careful consideration of the cria’s age is important when attempting to determine the cause of the diarrhea. In addition to the drugs mentioned above for specific
©2012 Linda Kondris
causes of diarrhea, other anti-diarrheal drugs can be safely used in camelid crias. For low-volume, normal frequency diarrhea, Kaolin at 10–15 mL can be given once (SID) to twice (BID) a day. For higher volume, increased frequency diarrhea, liquid Imodium at 3 to 5 mL can be given SID to BID in addition to the Kaolin. For diarrhea that is so severe that the cria is still losing weight, despite IV fluids (probably viral in nature), conservative use of Deliver® electrolytes (4–5 oz, orally, SID via esophageal tube) can be used to prevent further dehydration. For “on the continued on next page
Assessment of Cria Diarrhea > 4–5 days old • Check current and recent weights • If > 4–5 days old, run Crypto/Giardia test (ImmunoCard STAT!) 1. If negative, less than 3 weeks old, and diarrhea not severe: a. do nothing OR b. give active culture (plain) yogurt AND/OR c. give Kaolin (5–10 mL) and/or liquid Imodium (3 mL) BID 2. Monitor weight SID to BID 3. Recheck if diarrhea continues 4. If negative, less than 3 weeks old, and diarrhea moderately severe: a. give oral electrolytes (Pediolyte) b. treat with Metronidazole (for enteritis) c. give Kaolin (5–10 mL) and/or Imodium (3 mL) BID 5. Submit sample for viral EM screening 6. If negative and greater than 3 weeks old, check for Regular coccidia and treat with Sulfa if coccidia present 7. If negative and greater than 1.5 months old, check for regular parasites and E. mac and treat accordingly • If non-stop, liquid diarrhea, start IV fluids and appropriate medications. • If diarrhea persists and cria is still losing weight, use Deliver® electrolytes (4–5 oz, orally, SID, via esophageal tube). • If fecal is negative and cria greater than 1.5 months old, and there is E. mac on the farm, treat with Ponazuril anyway. • Early treatment is KEY, crias can lose 10–14% of body weight overnight and will die if not given fluids (IV preferred for severely dehydrated crias (> 8–10%).
farm” diagnosis use the chart on the left (based on the age of the cria) to work through diagnosing the type of diarrhea. Early detection and aggressive treatment is essential for success.
ADULTS Adult camelids have a wide range of “normal” feces, from pellets to some animals that always seem to have soft-formed feces (cow patty). Diarrhea in adults, while not always severe can be harder to diagnose when compared to crias. Consistency of feces in healthy adults will in part depend on diet and availability of lush/green pasture. If it is spring and most of the herd has green, soft feces, it is a normal response of the gastrointestinal track to the transition from an all hay winter diet. To help with the transition, feed hay first in the morning before letting them out onto the pasture. In most cases, an animal that has soft formed feces, a good appetite and attitude, and has not lost weight will need to have a sugar centrifugation fecal analysis done to look for gastrointestinal parasites. With more severe diarrhea, additional testing will need to be done. As a general rule, most parasites found in the third compartment (C3 or true stomach) rarely cause diarrhea, but rather weight loss, ill thrift, and low protein. In more advanced cases, diarrhea may be seen. Parasites found in the lower intestinal tract (e.g., whipworms) are more likely to cause diarrhea if high numbers are present, due to the enteritis (inflammation) caused by the migration of the parasites. “Regular” coccidia as described in the cria section above may also cause diarrhea in adults, although it is more common in juveniles. In most situations, healthy adults rarely succumb to “regular” coccidia unless there is something causing immunosuppression such as chronic malnutrition, over crowding, stress of transport, other gastrointestinal parasites, or neoplasia. E. mac is an exception and clinical disease (diarrhea) can be seen in adults, especially in naïve animals (never exposed to E. mac before) traveling to a new farm for breeding or as new additions to the herd. These naïve animals should be monitored closely as serious disease (even fatalities) can occur before any clinical signs are seen. To do this, a fecal
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analysis should be performed when the animal comes to the farm and repeated in 30 and 60 days. This should allow for any new infections with E. mac and/ or other significant parasites to be managed. Further complications involve clinical signs that can range from no signs to severe diarrhea. If E. mac infection is a possibility and the fecal is negative, but a blood test reveals the protein and albumin concentrations are low, it is advisable to treat with Ponazuril or Baycox anyway. Individual and herd immunity to E. mac does occur and like other coccidian parasites, healthy adults can have incidental findings of E. mac oocysts in their feces without ill effects (author experience). Viral – Coronavirus is the most common cause of vial diarrhea in adult camelids. The diarrhea can be severe, requiring fluid therapy and supportive care. Diagnosis is made by submitting fresh feces for electron microscopy (EM) testing. Coronavirus can also be seen in conjunction with bacterial causes of diarrhea such as of Clostridium perfringens type A (see above in cria section). If diarrhea is present, with depression and lack of appetite, consider sending fresh feces to a diagnostic lab for EM testing.
Indiscriminate eating – As a general rule, camelids do not eat just anything lying around the barn. However, they are generally curious and will investigate “new” things in the pasture. When grazing they are very selective; but in overgrazed pastures, where the selection is narrow, they will be forced to be less selective. In addition, if they have access to trees that produce fruit, this will be a favorite seasonal treat! Hay can also be source of unknown items to eat. When making or purchasing hay, choose trustworthy sources and discard bales that look suspicious. Be aware that there can be molds present in hay that can not be seen. These are just a few of possible causes of an animal(s) that will have a few episodes of diarrhea, but usually is self–limiting with no other clinical signs. If an animal is depressed, comes off feed, and the diarrhea lasts for more than a day, further investigation is warranted. Plant toxins – Oleander ingestion can cause severe diarrhea from gastrointestinal irritation. Animals will also be reluctant to eat, lethargic, and show signs of abdominal discomfort. It can also cause death from continued on next page
There are more plants that are toxic, but the major clinical sign is not diarrhea. For example, Yew (taxus) poisoning causes death so quickly that no other signs are seen. cardiac abnormalities. Oleander is found throughout California and southern states. It can also be grown as a potted shrub. All parts of the plant are toxic and as few as 10 leaves can be lethal. Treatment is focused on reversing dehydration, giving activated charcoal to bind the toxins (cardenolides, triterpenoids) and supportive care.24 It is good to occasionally patrol the perimeter of pastures. There are more plants that are toxic, but the major clinical sign is not diarrhea. For example, Yew (taxus) poisoning causes death so quickly that no other signs are seen. Grain Overload – This is seen when animals are accidentally fed too much grain by a caretaker or when one (or more) animals “break into” the grain storage. It’s also seen when an aggressive animal eats more than their fair share. Excessive grain in the first compartment (C1) lowers the pH, causing an imbalance in the bacterial population, favoring acid loving bacteria. This results in a roller coaster effect by further imbalances. The “bad” bacteria produce lactic acid, and this results in fluid being drawn into C1 to dilute the acid. This causes dehydration, shuts down function of C1, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. Treatment in mild cases may just be removing access to grain, providing only grass hay, and giving antacids. In severe cases treatment involves: IV fluids, supportive care, and most important, rumen transfaunation. Bacterial diarrhea – It would be hard to summarize here the possibilities in which bacteria could be a cause of diarrhea. Salmonella spp, which is one of the more common causes of diarrhea in other large 76 PURELYSURI
animal species (horses, dairy cattle), is not common in camelids. Clostridium perfringens spp was discussed in the section on crias. When any animal has diarrhea and is depressed, their temperature should be checked. If a fever is present and the animal is depressed with no appetite, the possibility of a bacterial cause of diarrhea increases. Balantidium coli – This is a large ciliated protozoan parasite and a frequently overlooked cause of diarrhea. It is considered to be a normal inhabitant in the large intestine of the pig and only rarely causes problem in that species. B. coli is transferred to host in the cystic stage. Transmission is fecal-oral by food and water contaminated with feces containing cysts. Cysts stay viable for weeks in the environment after being passed in feces. Available information reports the trophozoite form survives for only hours in the environment, which is also my experience. Most available information is not recent, but does cover many species, including ruminants. It has been isolated from more than 20 mammals including man, cattle, water buffaloes, and camels.25 In most situations, interaction with swine is connected with cases of balantidiasis in humans. However, in countries where there is no human association with swine, there are still cases of balantidiasis in humans. In those countries camels had the most interaction with humans and trophozoites of B. coli were detected in 18% of feces of clinically normal camels.26 Their conclusion was it may be a normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract of camels. However, there are a few reports of camels with B. coli trophozoites found in diarrhea and no other cause of diarrhea found, concluding in some instances it can be pathogenic.27,28 Clinical disease (diarrhea) is only considered to occur when the organism invades the lining of the intestines.29 This invasion is thought to occur when hyaluronidase is released and produces ulceration in the intestinal wall. This invasion may be aided by intestinal bacteria.29 Results of necropsies done on infected alpacas with chronic B. coli have damage that ranges from none, mild (most), to severe ulceration of the colon. Clinically in alpacas, B. coli causes medium volume, low frequency, intermittent diarrhea. I have seen it most often in older imported females and one time in a 4-year-old offspring of an import. On occasion, I have seen it in a few younger animals that were not
imports. These animals did not have recurrence of diarrhea. In animals chronically infected, it seems to recur in the spring with change of feed by going out to pasture from a winter diet of dry hay. These animals are not becoming reinfected-it survives in the cyst form in the animal and the change of diet causes an imbalance in the GI tract and recurrence of diarrhea. The trophozoite form does not survive long out of the animal and will not be found in regular fecal floats. B. coli should be considered as a possible cause of diarrhea, especially when a sugar centrifugation fecal analysis does not show significant parasites including E. mac. As it does not survive long, in order to diagnose a fresh sample of feces at the time of diarrhea,
it must be examined immediately (within 2 hours or sooner) as a direct smear. This entails taking a very small amount of feces on a glass slide with drops of water mixed in with the feces, placing a coverslip, and looking for moving organisms on the slide. Treatments listed in the veterinary literature are no longer commercially available. In humans, treatment is oral tetracyclines or iodoquinol (antiprotozal).30 Camelids can be given oral and injectable tetracyclines, but drugs that kill protoza will also kill off all the good protoza in C1. I have attempted different treatments on several farms. The current episode will be shortened but, in my experience, diarrhea will recur in chronically infected animals. Treatments are focused on known, safe anti-protozal drugs in ru-
minants: injectable tetracycline, oral tetracycline, fenbendazole and ponazuril (or Baytril). The jury is still out as to long-term success. In summary, diarrhea in adults can range anywhere from innocuous to serious. If it lasts for more than one day, especially with a depressed animal, further testing should be done. Testing should consist of some, or possibly all, of the following: fecal floatation, direct smear, viral EM, and bacterial culture. It is important to remember to do a direct smear on all cases of diarrhea looking for Balantidium coli trophozoites. l Hovda,L.,et.al. JAVMA,1990;196(2)319 Rulofson,F.,et.al. AJVR,2001;62(4)637 3 ParreĂąo,V., et.al. J.Vet.Med.B.,2001;48,713 4 Rickard,L.,et.al. Protozool,1988;35(3)335; 5 Rohbeck,S., et.al., Biology E.mac in Lamas (abstr)Proc.4th Eur Symp SA Camelids,2004 7 Hashmey,R., et.al. Medicine,1997; 76(2)118 8 Barr,S.,et.al. JAVMA 1944;205(12)1742 9 Grinberg,A., et.al. Vet Rec,2002;151,606 10 Viu,M.,et.al., Vet Parasitol,2000;90,163 11 Cebra, C., et.al. JAVMA,2003 223(12)1806 13 Mattson,D., et.al. VCNA-Food Animal,1994,10,345 14 Puntel,M.,et.al., J.Vet.Med,1999; 46,157 15 Jin,L.,et.al.Virology,2007;365,198 16 Adams,R.,et.al. JAVMA,1992;201(9)1419 17 Whitehead,C., et.al. Small Rumin Res,2006; 61,207 18 Fowler,M.,1998 Med Surg SA Camelids 19 Palacios,C.,et.al. Vet Rec,2006;158,344 20 Cebra,C.,et.al. JAVMA,2008;232 (5):733 23 Cebra, C., et.al. JAVMA,2007;230(1)94 24 Fowler, Medicine and Surgery of Camelids, Third Ed 25 Moulton, J.E.,et.al. Cornell Vet,1961;51,350 26 Gill, H.S. Indian Vet Journal,1976; 153, 897 27 Ali, B.H., et.al. Vet Rec, 1982; 110,506 28 Vosdingh, R.A. et.al. JAVMA, 1969,155,1077 29 Boid, R. et.al. Br.Vet.J, 1985, 141,87 30 Schuster, F.L., et.al, Clin Microb Review, 2008, 21(4),626 31 Cebra, Chris. Camelid Health Conf for Owners and Breeders, The Ohio State, 2012 1 2
AUTHOR Pamela G. Walker, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M Dr Walker is a graduate of Kansas State University College of Veterinarian Medicine. She competed a Food Animal Medicine and Surgery residency at the University of Illinois, where she also received her Masterâ€™s of Science Degree and Dr. Walker is a Board Certified Large Animal Internist. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Ohio State University. Dr Walker has extensive experience with alpacas having spent many years overseeing the medical, surgical, reproductive and daily health of a herd of more than 200 alpacas.
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Brandilyn Farm Alpacas LLC...................... 20 Breakstone Ridge........................................... 8 Brooklyn Alpacas......................................... 20 C & M Acres................................................ 13 Dancing Moon Alpacas................................ 69 Dos Donas.................................................... 32 East Fork Alpaca Farm................................... 8 Flame Pool Alpacas, Ltd.............................. 16 Foothills Suri Alpacas.................................. 22 Great Lakes Ranch............. Inside Front Cover Hasselbring’s Harmony Ranch.................... 55 Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas................... 40, 41 Lodi Alpacas................................................ 72 Long Hollow Suri Alpacas........................... 13 Moonlight Alpacas....................................... 72 Pines Edge Ranch........................................ 22 Prairie States Insurance................................ 72 Serenity Valley Alpacas............................... 69 Sweet Blossom Alpacas............................... 69 The North American Suri Company.............. 3 Twins Alpaca Farm...................................... 20 Weather’d T Ranch...................................... 16 Wind Walker Ranch..................................... 37