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A COLD FLAT CRIA AT 7AM – DON’T PANIC.

 

So there I was lying asleep in bed at home. It was 7am and I was trying for a little lie-in having finished work at midnight. Sue was due to leave for work at 7.15am, which was my time to rise.

Suddenly (is there any other way) the phone rang. Now the phone in our house only rings at that sort of time if there is an alpaca emergency. Sure enough Sue was in the field, out of breath and telling me that Victoria had given birth. Exciting! However Sue added that the cria was nearly dead.

To say that I shot out of bed is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but I did launch myself (no, that’s probably still a bit over the top), let’s say that I quickly stumbled out of bed in search of some clothes and was on my way down the stairs as I blinked away the night’s sleep.

I grabbed the birthing box and hastily pulled on my wellies before shuffling across the road to the field.

To set the scene I should explain that we had been watching Victoria very carefully for the past week. She has been behaving very much like she was going to give birth at any moment. Lots of lying down, lots of squatting, lots of time spent on her own. Last year Victoria gave birth to a solid brown Qjori boy at just over ten months gestation. Sadly he died moments later even though Sue was there and was giving him CPR. So we were on extra special alert in Victoria’s case. Today Victoria has been pregnant for 11 months and three days.

Sue was in the shed with Victoria and a very flat cold cria that was indeed barely alive. We raced her into the house and got her in a hot (not too hot) bath, she needed warming up fast. After 20 minutes in some warm water she started to show signs of life. We took her out and dried her off before bringing Sue’s hair dryer into action. A few minutes later a dry, warm and fluffy cria was snuggled up where I had been half an hour previously under the duvet with the electric blanket on. She was as warm as toast but still flat out. I gave her a few mls of warm glucose water and we waited. Sue had to go to work so we discussed what plan I was to follow and off she went.

After a few minutes I went downstairs to make a cup of coffee and start to tidy up the house (it looked like the birthing kit, a bucket of mud and a box of towels had exploded).

When I went back upstairs she was trying to get out of bed!

Una1

So, now on my own, I had a cria that was trying to escape and a plan that was in tatters! My first instinct was to get her back with Victoria so that despite having had a bath and now probably smelling strongly of me she could bond with her mother.

On the way out I checked that she was a female and had the correct number of holes etc. and sprayed her cord with some iodine. I put a nice warm coat on her and weighed her, 7kg on the nose. She was down on her pasterns, her teeth hadn’t erupted and her ears were a bit floppy but she was struggling like a good ‘un. A fighter, I like a fighter!

Victoria followed me into the shed, (Tsar’s dining quarters) and seemed interested in her little cria which was a good start.

Next job was to defrost some plasma and get a stomach tube sterilised. Having done that it was down to getting on with it. She was still lively and had a suck reflex but was completely ignoring Victoria so plasma was the way to go. I cushed her on a bale of hay sat astride her and gently fed the tube into her mouth and down her neck. I could clearly feel the tube going down the left side of her neck indicating that it was in the correct place. I then realised that the syringe containing the plasma wouldn’t fit onto the tube. Marvellous, tube out and everything back as it was whilst I stomped across to the house to get the syringe with the big sticky out thing. A few minutes later and that lovely warm plasma was going in nicely. Twenty minutes later and the second 50ml of plasma went in and I left them to it.

Una2

So a day of several firsts.

The first cria of 2013 in Patouland.

The first time we have ever put a cria in the bath.

The first time we have ever given a cria a blow dry.

The first time we have ever put a cria in our bed.

The first time I have ever tubed a cria.

How about that?

 

 

 

Mark Steele Patou Alpacas.

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BOVINE COLOSTRUM – TSAR’S STORY

This article was sent to me by Mark Steele of Patou Alpacas in the UK. You can follow his blog here and I am sure if you have any questions about the benefits of Bovine colostrum, Mark would be delighted to hear from you.

 

Patou Tsar was born at 10.30am on a wet and windy 11th of July 2012. He was the second of three cria born that morning within an hour and a half of each other. Having never had three cria born on the same day before and having just said goodbye to Sue as she ventured off shopping I was, to say the least, in full panic mode!

Tsar and his mother Amelie shortly after he was born

Tsar and his mother Amelie shortly after he was born

 

Tsar was a healthy 8.60kg and had been born following a gestation period of 357 days. His mother, Patou Amelie was a second time mother and her first cria had been healthy from the word go, she was a good and attentive mother. Everything started off well with Tsar feeding heartily within the first couple of hours. Millie had plenty of milk and all appeared fine and dandy.

Tsar progressing nicely

Tsar progressing nicely

 

Up until that day most of the years cria had been born in atrocious weather and we had lost three cria, one born a month premature and two that succumbed to a nasty case of diarrhoea. We had been advised by our vet to treat all new-borns with a precautionary injection of anti-biotics (Amoxypen) immediately following birth and for a further two days in order to prevent the same diaorrhea bug from striking. We were very apprehensive as you can imagine.

We weigh all new cria every day for the first two weeks to ensure that they are putting on weight as they should and did so with Tsar. It is normal for a cria to lose weight in the first 24 hours so we weren’t concerned when Tsar did. However, he continued to lose weight and although Millie had plenty of milk and Tsar was under her frequently something was obviously not right. After three days we stepped in and started bottle feeding him as a supplement to his mothers milk. After a month he weighed over 11 kilos and we continued to top him up with powdered ewes milk.

On the 28th of October Tsar weighed 18.10kg and seemed to be thriving. We had weaned him off the bottle and he was feeding regularly from Millie as well as grazing. He was smaller than the other cria but he felt in good condition and my records show  that when carrying out a herd check on the 17th of November I had scored him a 4 on the 1-5 condition scale. He was now out with the other mothers and cria. He had been routinely wormed at the end of September, treated with Baycox Bovis (to prevent Coccidiosis) at the beginning of October and given Fasinex (against Liver Fluke) on the 17th of November. He was also on monthly injections of Vitamin A,D & E.

Tsar never gave up, he was always eating!

Tsar never gave up, he was always eating!

 

On the 29th of November (12 days after he scored 4) I checked him and he was as thin as a rake and weighed 15 kg. A fecal sample revealed the presence of a worm called Nematodirus. This particular worm was resistant to the wormer that I had been using, Panomec. Tsar was treated with Panacur and then Zolvix, a new type of wormer. We also treated him with a course of broad spectrum anti-biotics.

He was moved into a shed with his mother and we monitored him closely. His weight fluctuated as we tried to bottle feed him again, he fought against it every time. By mid January he had bad diarrhoea and we again treated him with Baycox and a course of anti-biotics (Baytril).

His mother had become very disinterested in him and wouldn’t let him feed. We moved her out and moved another cria in. We removed all food apart from a mixture of alfalfa chaff mixed with an all in one pelleted feed and micronized peas. We also gave him Pro-rumen three times a day to stimulate his gut bacteria and treated him with Kaogel to try and firm up the diaorrhea. He also had Effadryl tablets in his water to replace the minerals that he was obviously losing.

A further fecal sample revealed the presence of a protozoa called Giardia which we treated with a five day course of Panacur. We started to give him multi-vitamin injections weekly.

Tsar continued to lose weight and we just couldn’t stop the diarrhoea. I thought that it was only a matter of time before he died. The one thing that we held onto was the fact that he never stopped eating and drinking, he never gave up and as long as he was fighting, we would be fighting. On a day to day basis it changed from a winning battle to a losing one. Our emotions were all over the place.

On the 9th of February (he weighed just over 16kg) we carried out transfaunation in an attempt to stimulate his gut bacteria. We rounded up our spittiest female (Bobby) and whilst holding a bag over her nose I ‘tickled’ her. Suitably wound up she coated the inside of the bag with the green stuff. This was then mixed up with Pro-rumen and drenched into Tsar.

Tsar and Thor enjoying some rare time out in the sunshine

Tsar and Thor enjoying some rare time out in the sunshine

We were running out of ideas. The vets had given up on Tsar saying that some never recover; he was the alpaca equivalent to a ‘tail-end lamb’. That just wasn’t good enough I’m afraid, we knew we were on our own from now on and we knew we would keep fighting as long as Tsar had breath in his body. By this time Tsar was in a bad way, his fleece was falling out in clumps, he was staggering about and he was a pitiful sight, but, and this was crucial, he kept on eating.

I can’t remember how or why I thought of using Bovine Colostrum, I had read an article in the SWAG Newsletter and it had stuck in my memory I guess. I phoned the vet to ask for advice. “What is the scientific background to it?” was the question I was asked. When I replied that there was none just several cases in New Zealand and America where it had been thought responsible for repairing gut linings in alpacas the idea was dismissed summarily. I then stopped talking to the vets altogether regarding Tsar. When science fails you need to go somewhere else.

Using my initiative I managed to get hold of a litre of frozen cow colostrum. It came from a small private herd of four dairy cows. They were fed organically, were treated largely homeopathically and were, as far as I could determine, disease free, which was vitally important.

The theory was that Tsars gut lining had been badly damaged by the infestation of Nematodiris and that was why despite eating almost constantly he was failing to gain weight. The theory continued that with the use of the Bovine Colostrum his gut lining would repair to some extent and that he would once again be able to absorb nutrients. If we couldn’t achieve this he would die, it was as simple as that. This was the last chance we had.

On the 10th of February (weight 16kg) we started with the Colostrum. 1ml of Colostrum per kilo of body weight twice a day. It was in a solid litre block so we used a saw to slice off the right amount each day. It was a thick yellow creamy substance when defrosted and obviously smelled and tasted good as Tsar took it readily.

Two days after starting the Colostrum he started to put on weight, only 50 grams at a time but there was a definite weight gain. The weight gain quickened and after a week he had put on a kilo.

The second week of administering Colostrum he put on two kilos!

Tsar, now (March 2013) weighing over 25 kilos and acting like the Lord of the Paddock!

Tsar, now (March 2013) weighing over 25 kilos and acting like the Lord of the Paddock!

 

We increased the amount of Colostrum daily and after 17 days it was all gone. By this time Tsar was putting on weight steadily and by the 5th of March (23 days after starting the Colostrum) he had gained six kilograms!

I am writing this article on the 26th of March 2013 and yesterday Tsar weighed 25.25kilos, a massive nine kilo gain in a little under six weeks! Tsar is now full of life and has been charging around the paddock. He is now scoring a solid 3 on the condition scale and is a completely different animal to the weanling that was close to death two months ago. I can put this extraordinary turnaround down to two things. Firstly, Tsar never ever gave up, he continued to eat and drink throughout even though he was at times incredibly weak and secondly the bovine colostrum. I can’t prove it, there is no science behind it but I have no doubt in my mind that the colostrum was the major factor in his recovery.

Mark Steele, Patou Alpacas    www.patoualpacas.co.uk

Inaugural North Island Colourbration Show – Jenny Durno, NZ

The first thing that occurred to visitors of the Alpaca Section of the Waikato Show, Claudelands in May 2012 was how attractive this area was. When you walked in from the ‘show’ side, fresh from the Antique Halls and the sideshows, you were treated to an attractive array of displayed fleeces on one side, all arranged in colour order and festooned with ribbons.  The sought after broad sashes gaily proclaimed the best, the Supremes and Champions of the show, but even the place ribbons added to the overall impression that someone cared and was proud of this part of the show.  You only had to pause for a moment to see people from the public attracted to the baskets of ‘feel me’ fleeces, Huacaya and Suri and then look up and around to appreciate the wealth of beautiful colours in front of them.

On the other side were the equally well set out trade stands, with every imaginable use of alpaca celebrated and displayed to great advantage.  Gorgeous clothes, stylish hats and shawls, funny or funky ornaments and jewellery;  the creative people in the alpaca industry proved that they can provide a wide range of viable products in a sophisticated and business-like retail environment. 

Smack in the middle as you came in was a busy looking ring with intriguing items ranged around – the obstacle course. Obstacle course!  Cool!  When do we see the alpacas do this?  Soon – do you want to lead an alpaca around yourself?  Wow!  And babies!  The name-the-cria competition attracted a crowd several people deep and some excited participants had to be reminded that this little creature was only a few days old.  Please don’t rattle the cage!

If visitors could get past the appeal of the Mums and crias they could sit for a while and watch the more serious business of judging. With Huacaya in one ring and Suri in the other, the differences were very clear to anyone and many members found themselves hosting impromptu lessons on the attributes of one type of alpaca over another.  We were very proud of our judges and their comprehensive explanations of why they were placing one animal over another; great for us as breeders as always, but very informative for the general public who had just learned that they were not looking at llamas.

But we were only half way around the hall. The pens themselves were an attraction at this show – bright branding, high branches of greenery, more ribbons proclaiming the success of the cool customers nestled in their clean straw.  With plenty of clean pathway between the rows of pens we saw whole families with pushchairs becoming well acquainted with mature or young, white or coloured Huacaya and Suri. Comparing big brown eyes to fleece covered faces, cute little ones nosing in the chaff together or big imperious males haughtily checking the bigger picture, people of all walks of life were smilingly choosing their favourites.

This was an attractive show all right. Well conceived, well put together and well attended by the very people it was designed for. It was a credit to its organizers, the participants and the Alpaca Association.  It deserves its place on the busy show calendar. 

Where in the World? – Alpaca property around the globe

As this is a new online blog for the alpaca world, I thought it would be interesting to compare alpaca properties that can be found for sale around the world. I have been told about properties in the US, Australia, France and the UK.

France

The first one is taken from the internet and is here on the web – Click here

Alpaca farm with 5 bedrooms and a 1 bed annexe – an ideal B&B 397,500 Euros

This is an ideal business opportunity. Ready to welcome B&B guests and an alpaca farm! Or just move in and enjoy the views.

Sitting proudly on the hillside, overlooking the land, you can keep an eye on your alpacas from the house.
Over 6 acres of land, all fenced to make six separate paddocks and bordered by a stream on the lower edge.
The house is beautifully renovated and has 4 good sized bedrooms and a single room as well as a self-contained annexe with one double room adjoining the house.

The alpacas are not included in the price of the property but could be sold direct if you wanted to continue this business.

The Vienne was formed in 1790 from parts of the historical regions of Poitou, Berry and Touraine. The department tends to slope downwards from the north to the south with the highest point reaching 764 ft and the lowest point being 115ft at the confluence of the River Creuse and the River Charente. The department gets its name from the River Vienne, which flows straight down the centre.
Poitiers is the departmental and regional capital and boasts France’s oldest Christian building, the Saint Jean baptistery, constructed back in the fourth century. The town has some fine examples of Romanesque architecture, is a pleasant small city, and visitors will find a relaxed atmosphere, especially compared to Paris. It is home to around 90,000 people including many students thanks to the popular university. Poitiers is also a good base to visit nearby towns and cities. A lot of retirees move to the city and its’ environs, attracted by its warm climate (snow is rare).

The second French property comes from Leah Ducaud

Rare opportunity to buy an old farmhouse with 16 hectares set in a stunning location overlooking the forest of the Double. Peace and tranquility without being isolated as the property is the last in the small hamlet, with instant access for riding, cycling and walking in the beautiful forest surrounding the edges of the property on three sides.
A large entrance hall leads to the carefully restored and well-equipped kitchen and dining room and also to the master bedroom, the bathroom and the toilet. The large master bedroom has a south-facing window looking out onto the garden and has an elegant stone fireplace. The bathroom contains a bath, shower and wash basin, it’s exceptional size can also house a washing machine and tumble dryer if required.
The second bedroom (currently used as a child’s bedroom and playroom) will comfortably hold a double bed and furniture and also has a pretty stone fireplace.
The living room serves also as an easily converted temporary guest room for the moment and is ideal for a small family.
An adjoining barn has enormous potential for conversion into a large sitting room and dining room with a mezzanine ensuite double bedroom.
Another large barn and stables adjoin the first barn giving a total of 220m2 of outbuildings.
The south side of the property has a terrace overlooking a large fenced garden with vegetable garden and poultry pen and on to the surrounding fields and forest. There is also a convenient well, situated in the courtyard, for watering the gardens and livestock. The orchard, populated with various young fruit trees is positioned just to the side of a large parking area at the farms entrance.
The land is particularly well-cared for with around 13 hectares already fenced with posts and sheep wire to 1.2m high (currently used for alpacas) and topped with a strand of electric fencing (currently used for horses). A large wooden field shelter provides shelter in two of the fields close to the house not bordered by the forest.
The only unfenced field is situated furthest from the house and borders a small river and is well sheltered on all sides by mature trees, it also contains a fresh water source with a delightful natural pond.
Sadly for sale as relocating closer to family in the Charente, this beautiful property is immediately habitable but with further scope for renovation or restoration if required.

Available at 299,000 Euros Click here for website

Over to the USA now, and the Silken Suri Ranch, having been posted on Facebook, where I saw it!

Beautiful home in the Golden Foothills Walkout basement 3 car garage Vaulted cathedral ceilings 2 story windows with amazing views An open kitchen boasts cherry cabinets silestone counters and wood flooring Out buildings and fencing set up perfectly for horses or alpacas Main floor laundry Only 20 minutes from Golden Black HawkCentral City Flat acreage Close to Centennial Cone Open Space Priced at $489,000 Please click here for the website for more information.

Also in the USA is this property in Oregon in the US

This is a stunning executive home with views, sited in a peaceful forest above Twin Oaks School. Fir & cherry flooring with walnut, slate & brass accents, soaring ceilings in the living room, wine room, sprinklered grounds, 150 gpm well & lots of wildlife. The property is a perfect country estate with barns, corrals & fenced pastures. Adjacent 5 acre lot is also available. This one is priced at $625,000 (US dollars) Click Here

In Eastern Washington State, close to Idaho border – Click here for link

310 acres for your private estate or hunting paradise. Amazing views. Borders thousands of acres of timber company land which borders national forest. 3800 sq ft country ranch home with a daylight basement started. Built with concrete filled Superform ICF blocks for superior insulation and strength. There is a drilled well. A 2nd rustic cabin with storage building/garage. Good water, timber resources, power, phone and access. 2 creeks run through the property. Numerous springs. One captured spring supplies the cabin with water. Several ponds. Property for sale at $599,000.

UK

In the UK there is an amazing opportunity to purchase a fantastic on-going business in the Ashdown Forest. The llama Park, has been established for years, and is a thriving tourist attraction.

The sale of Ashdown Forest Llama Park offers a rare and exciting opportunity to acquire an attractively located small residential country estate with stunning views and access directly onto Ashdown Forest combined with a purpose designed and built visitor centre and retail outlet including extensive shop area, coffee shop, restaurant and conference room.  The vendor established the Ashdown herd of llamas and alpacas in 1987 and from the Park has been pro-active in promoting the camelid industry in the UK for the last fifteen years.  In addition to breeding and selling good quality llamas and alpacas raised in a stress free and caring environment, by operating as a visitor attraction, the aim has been to educate the public about llamas and alpacas. (for further detail see http://www.llamapark.co.uk).  The local Planning Authority have recognised the site to be an important tourist venue indicating that it would give serious considerations to other uses ancillary to the tourist use and/or assisting the existing business, subject of course to Planning Permission.  The estate is set in undulating pasture and extends in all to about 32 acres.

ASHDOWN FARMHOUSE:

Ashdown Farmhouse is a detached Farmhouse built in 1997 being of brick and tile hung elevations under a tiled roof and benefitting from oil-fired central heating and double glazing.

The llama park is available for sale for £1.6million. If you would like to see more details, please click here.

 

Life in Godzone (aka Paradise) (aka New Zealand) by Robyn Anderson

Kia Ora everyone

Alan, thanks for asking me – you never cease to amaze me with your ideas for marketing, and for pulling the alpaca community together.  It’s lovely.

Why Alpacas?  My first encounter with an alpaca was around about 1986 in downtown Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.  There were moves afoot to introduce these beautiful animals with the magnificent fleece into New Zealand .  There was a llama and an alpaca and we were invited by their handler to feel the fleece of both animals.  I preferred the llama fleece!  It felt softer.   In my defence I think those animals were very primitive compared to the magnificent fleece carriers we have here today.

This meeting with an alpaca was burned into my memory. 

Several years later I received an unexpected windfall of around $800 New Zealand dollars.  This was earmarked as my deposit for an alpaca.  I really still had no idea about caring for alpaca – but I knew I wanted one.  

Meanwhile my husband and I established an olive grove in the Awatere Valley in the South Island of New Zealand.  We still lived and worked in Wellington but commuted most weekends to work on our grove.  We had a taste of rural life and we loved it.  Our grove was only around 20 minutes from the nearest large town, and only 5 minutes from a small town.  The small town had an old fashioned general store, tea rooms and a public toilet.  This was handy as we had no facilities on our block.  I nicknamed the local phone box “my office”. 

We planted, weeded and tended over 6,000 olive trees.  We had picked out our house site and to complete our idyllic lifestyle we expected to have 2-3 alpaca grazing nearby. 

Things often don’t work out quite how we planned them!

Circumstances changed and we sold our grove.  That was quite a wrench for us, as, along with the land and our beautiful trees, we sold a little of ourselves and all of our dreams. 

Still the alpacas remained in the back of my mind. 

Finally it dawned on us!  We could breed alpacas.  This was now 2002.  There were quite a few alpacas in New Zealand now and more being imported.    We were living in Queensland in Australia for a few months at this time.  The sun must have been good for us as this was where the dream started to take shape.  We visited a couple of breeders around the area and attended one or two shows.  The breeders were very positive – and the alpacas were gorgeous.

We moved back to Wellington, New Zealand.  We visited a couple of breeders in our greater area and attended a couple of shows.  The breeders were very positive – and the alpacas were gorgeous!

We quickly realised our quarter acre suburban home was not going to be practical and began our search for a suitable property. 

We decided to go south rather than north and found a block of land in mid Canterbury.  It is right on the Canterbury plains with a view of the Southern Alps to the west and the Port Hills of Christchurch to the east.  We are around 40 minutes from the centre of Christchurch (when Christchurch had a centre, before the earthquake) in the heart of a traditional sheep and crop growing area but with dairy farming expanding rapidly, close to the small agricultural university town of Lincoln.  There is rapid urban expansion in the surrounding towns – they are getting closer to us. 

There is a handful of alpaca breeders in our vicinity however on the northern side of Christchurch there is a large group of lovely, enthusiastic breeders.  There are 10 – 12 shows held in the greater area over the spring / summer season where we can all meet and socialise together while showing our beautiful alpaca.   Some of the best alpaca in New Zealand are from Canterbury so the competition is pretty tough, and any ribbons received are prized.  Phil and I have convened our closest show for the last four years.  It used to be the first show of the season but more recently the National show on alternate years and the South Island Colourbration have taken that slot.  

We purchased our first alpaca via an online auction in 2003.  Snow Dream was 10 months pregnant at time of purchase and within six weeks had produced a female cria.  We were totally hooked by now.  How hard can this breeding business be??

Over the next few months we purchased another eight females and they became the foundation of our existing herd.  For the first couple of years we had … boy cria after boy cria.  We were a little discouraged!

In the meantime we settled into our area.  We each found jobs nearby and made some fabulous new friends.  We continued developing our property to suit us, and put our own stamp on it.  We were originally attracted to it because of the beautiful established trees.  And of course Phil loved the sheds!  We have made substantial alterations to the existing house, resown the paddocks and replaced most of the fencing.  As you will all know there is always something to be done on a farm no matter what size it is.

Our beautiful alpaca herd has grown.  We stopped having only boy cria, and now enjoy a healthy mix of girl/boy cria.   At one point our herd numbered around 110 but we currently have approximately 70 alpaca on farm at the moment although we are expecting another 20 cria within the next two months.   We have gone from being ‘townies’ knowing absolutely nothing about livestock, to become semi ‘rural folk’ who now know a little more about livestock.

We have had a few heartbreaks along the way, and some big lessons to learn, but the experience has been so rich on so many levels.  We have made some great friendships with fellow alpaca breeders.  We have met such interesting and lovely people from the other side of the world because we have alpacas.  We have made online friendships with so many more folk because of the alpacas. 

We have it all.  We have the most delightful lifestyle.  It isn’t perfect in any way, but it is fantastic.  We wake in the morning and the view from our room is the serene and gracious alpaca grazing close by.  In the evening if we have had a trying day we can stand by the fence and the tranquil alpaca will remind us of what is really important.  We have remembered how to enjoy our life…. That’s why.

 

Robyn and her husband Phil have farmed alpacas now for almost 10 years.  They are the owners of Awatere Alpaca Stud www.awatere.co.nz on the outskirts of Christchurch New Zealand, and they are actively involved in their industry.  They have convened the alpaca section of the Ellesmere A&P for the last four years, and Robyn is the current editor of the NZ Alpaca magazine, and the Southern Region representative on the Alpaca Association NZ National Council. They are passionate about alpaca and passionate about alpaca ‘fibre of the gods’.  They breed for fabulous fibre, gentle temperament and physical soundness.

Knapper Alpakka, Norway – Starting Right, Moving Forward

Starting Right

Alpacas are not new to Norway with the first imports of breeding alpacas done in 2004, but haven’t been very well known to the public until the last few years. Llamas have a longer history in our country and quite a few use llamas in the trekking businesses. But the Norwegian market is changing, both for the alpacas and for people’s interests in general. This benefits us as we are working on building a new industry in a country with long handicraft traditions. We feel Norway deserves the alpaca, and that the alpaca is perfect for our small and hilly country.

Our Situation

Just a few years back, there was slow progress in the buildup of alpaca breeders in our country. Some enthusiasts stuck with it, though, and continued pushing alpacas to the market. These pioneers are still in the business and together with a number of new enthusiasts are in it for the long run. At the start of 2009 there were some fifteen alpaca owners in Norway, but we now have about 70. No one had much more than ten to fifteen alpacas in 2009, but now we have several with 20, 30, 40 and more. We don’t have exact numbers, but we think there were between 100 and 150 alpacas in total in 2009, but more important imports were underway, and we now have about 600 alpacas. Imports have come from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Chile and Sweden.

photo1

The focus at the year of the founding association meeting in 2009 was the number of alpacas, and it still is. We need more of them to create an industry. Some have looked abroad. Some are working on the government issues, imports and financial support. We have a working association, which is important when starting up a new industry as we have.

Efforts to Start Right

Imports

There have been quite a few imports in the last few years and they have all focused on bringing good alpacas into Norway as a foundation for organized breeding.  So too have been the focus of the last imports of our own farm, Knapper Alpakka. At first we thought about just having a few alpacas as one species of animal of many on our small farm, but we changed our mind and started building a quality breeding farm.

We will never be a quality breeder if we don’t focus on quality animals as the core of our herd. This prompted important imports from Australia that arrived in 2009 and 2010, with alpacas of high quality and with good bloodlines. Later we imported more alpacas from Chile to strengthen our focus on colour in particular, and to personally experience how alpacas live in their native habitat (we called it “a pilgrimage”). There will be more imports, but these imports had alpacas that will be the pioneering mothers and fathers and the core of quality alpacas. They have produced some excellent offspring so far and we have high hopes for them in the future.

Additionally, the new national herd now got good males. Their bloodlines comprise of show winners from their respective countries, and one has won a series of titles himself in Australia. This improves our chances of building a breeding basis for all breeders as the owners of these new males will not limit the males to be used to only their own herd. A stud service market has been established.

The Norwegian Alpaca Association

Founding Meeting

Establishing a forum for the alpaca breeders, especially in a small alpaca country like Norway, is very important, and all breeders felt it important that we got off to a good start with the association. In the fall of 2009 we had our founding meeting in the Norwegian Alpaca Association. Some small changes to the governing body were made, but nothing controversial and all that came to the meeting left it with a sense of how important it is to just get it going.

Committees

The founding meeting of the association also saw the establishment of several important committees. Most notably we established the website-, registry-, and the first show committee.

Moving Forward

Shows

Even if we have a small number of alpaca breeders and alpacas, we felt we needed to have a show where we could show off our alpacas and our association and its members.  The show committee found a partner in Villmarksmessen (directly translates to “wilderness fair”), which is an annual fair for people interested in outdoor activities. This fair would also have a dog show where we could show our alpacas in between dog showing sessions. We got the venue for free, and considering the tens of thousands of visitors it was perfect!

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The first show had international judge Rob Bettinson, and it was an interesting, fun and learning experience for both alpaca breeders and the public. We have since had more shows and we have always had internationally renowned judges. We are at the fair for five days every time and we all get numerous requests for information and talk almost continuously through the days we are there, and we hope many learned that an alpaca is not a llama! The event has gotten coverage on TV and in newspapers, in addition to the numerous blogs, websites, social media interactions, and more.

It is top quality PR and the execution plan for running the shows is refined every year. We are very pleased with our own results as a breeder with several Champion winners at the shows in various colour classes.

The next show is in April, and we will be at the show between the 4th and the 7th, with the actual show with judging happens on the 6th (Saturday). We think we have a good show team this year as well, and no matter what the results are we will first and foremost aim for a good presentation of our alpacas!

Quality Focus

Although an alpaca industry needs alpaca enthusiasts of all kinds, from top quality breeders to the groups of people who just want to enjoy a quality life with their alpacas and have a cottage venue, we need a focus on quality at the core of the national herd. We as a breeder have high focus on quality as the core of our breeding decisions, and we see more and more people wanting to focus on breeding top quality alpacas as well.

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While the most requests for alpacas are still from those only wanting a couple of pets we see more requests from people who want to start a quality breeder farm. This is exciting and bodes well for our industry.

We are still a small alpaca country but hope to be able to jump ahead by selecting good alpacas early and need not use twenty years on breeding like the pioneering countries and breeders have done elsewhere, but take advantage of the work already done and start right. We feel we have a good basis for our breeding in our present herd here at Knapper Alpakka, but also realize that we have lots to do still. Shows are a great way to verify your own impressions of your own alpacas, avoid “barn blindness”, and learn something new about your herd.

We did great at last year’s show, winning three out of the possible five Champion titles, so we learned we are doing some things right and some things need adjustments. The judge also gave us a walkthrough of our suri male, which was very interesting for us. We hope more will get suris in Norway and that we can soon have suri classes in the shows.

Cooperation’s

To build an industry we need products and build a market, and many breeders have already started work on both. Some produce their own products on their own and others have formed cooperatives. Yet others import alpaca products. By getting the products “out there” and marketing alpaca qualities we build a demand for alpaca fleece. Many have come to us and said they like the alpaca because they seek the alpaca qualities, and look forward to seeing products made from the national herd. Product development is core to the success of our industry, and seeing how much alpaca products Norway import from the alpaca country of Peru we think we have a great market to supply.

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The Association and Its Members

The Norwegian Alpaca Association has some important tasks at hand and has already started. Some of these tasks have to do with making it easier for alpaca enthusiasts to start their work. The government has some limitations set on alpaca movements between our country and others, and there is very little financial support such as other livestock industries receive. We still believe we have a suitable team to work on these and other tasks for present and future alpaca breeders, and look forward to seeing the results, but we are all in it for the long run.

About the author

Rolf and his wife Nina moved into the countryside of Norway in 2007 after a career as IT consultants and project managers in Oslo. Today they are importers and breeders of a herd of quality alpacas in a small place called Vaaler about 150km North East of Oslo, and their farm is called Knapper Alpakka. They both consider themselves alpaca enthusiasts, and are eager users of IT in their alpaca business to combine both interests. Their IT knowledge has also led to helping others and the Norwegian Alpaca Association with websites. They have run four imports to Norway to date. You can get in touch with Rolf through their web site at http://www.alpakka.org/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/knapperalpakka

Mallkini Farm – Breeding the Finest Peruvian Alpacas in the Alpaca heartland of Peru

When talking about Alpaca, first name that comes to everyone’s mind is the name of Michell. That is not coincidence; it is due to the fact that Michell Group is the pioneer and leading Alpaca manufacturer and trader of Alpaca products in Peru. Fully integrated from breeding to retail of Alpaca clothing, the Michell Group has the passion of transforming this noble fibre into luxurious Alpaca products since 1931.

Quality has always been a major concern for the Michell Group. Thus it was vital to start a programme of improving the fibre quality as well as increasing the Alpaca population in the Peruvian Andes. Thus, its efforts started back in the early 1980’s in the highlands and today the Mallkini Farm is playing a key role in improving the Alpaca herds in Puno, which is the largest Alpaca breeding region in Peru.

During the 80’s the Michell Group was the first company to initiate private Alpaca farming activities in the Puno region. Its efforts started in Nunoa, establishing the Mamaniri Farm back in 1982. The aim was to improve Alpacas through breeding practices and to educate small farmers, who own the majority of the animals throughout the Alpaca-rich Puno District. The plan got off to a good start, but was suddenly and violently interrupted by the shining path terrorists who disrupted most businesses throughout the region, making the ranch unsafe for its employees.

When terrorism subsided back in 1995, The Michell Group committed itself once again to a model-breeding programme in the Puno District, establishing the Mallkini Farm, which is today the largest privately owned Alpaca operation in the Peruvian Highland.

Mallkini Farm is a place to carry out programmes aimed to obtain improvement on the Alpaca Breeding and Genetics, but it also has a guest house ideal for those wanting to visit and experience the life in the Highlands without sacrificing comfort.

Mallkini’s breeding project is focused on the following programmes:

–          Alpaca Selection Programmes aiming to select the best breeds based on the criteria of fibre fineness and density, and morphological conformation of the animals, mainly white and colour Alpaca.

–          Breeding programmes strictly conducted by pen breeding system, which has already allowed us to develop a pedigree registration book.

–          Nutrition and Reproduction Programmes by improving natural grasslands.

–          Support and assistance the local Alpaca breeders and their families.

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On the Genetics side, Mallkini is conducting research programmes working along with private Peruvian and International Universities as well as with the Peruvian Department of Agriculture, in the following topics:

– Development of reproductive techniques such as embryo transfers and production of ovocytes.

-Estimation of the genetic quantitative parameters (heir, repetition and genetic correlations) in the production of fibre.

-Study of the genotype relation Alpaca habitat in the Andean world.

-Study of the relation of vegetal biodiversity and Alpaca breeding

Mallkini farm also welcomes those looking for a place to visit, learn and improve their knowledge in Alpaca Breeding without sacrificing the comfort.  Mallkini opens its facilities to attend to tailor made workshops and seminars on Alpaca Breeding Techniques and Alpaca Management. Visitors have full access to our guest house and attend the educational programmes in specially equipped classroom and do their practices work on the field at our facilities in Sorani.
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Mallkini Farm  also  invites visitors to experiences the ultimate in-depth Alpaca and Adventure Farm, where you will not only be able to see how the Alpaca live,  but will also be able to discover the Andean people and landscapes and have the chance to practice outdoor sports.

Mallkini has a different way of revealing the wonderland of the Peruvian Sierra. A Warm and safe accommodation welcomes nature lovers, eager to have the experience of a life time at an Alpaca farmJMM_1269.

The unique landscapes found in this region, plus the chance to practice outdoors activities – like llama trekking, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and camping – makes Mallkini a perfect backdrop to an adventure so unique that it will be difficult to forget. You can see the unspoiled magic of the Andes – traditional villages, mountains, springs, lagoons, waterfalls and variety of flora and fauna. At Mallikini we are making efforts to preserve nature and enrich it.  Over 4,000 eucalyptus and native trees have been planted on the hills in front of the guest house to enhance the flora and fauna of the area

For more information please visits www.mallkini.com.pe and www.michell.com.pe

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