Wednesday 24 April 2013

A new female...born or bought???

When I wrote my last blog I slipped in a prediction...the prediction being that Silverstream Galaxy would give birth on the next sunny day. With that in mind I decided that there was no point in writing another blog until I had a birth to report. Well, to be fair we haven't had what you would call a 'sunny day' however I did strip down to a single fleece and one pair of socks on Saturday...but no we are still waiting. I had thought that calculating mean gestation times for our females would give us a better idea of a birth date...but as all alpaca breeders know...they will birth when they decide and not when we want it to happen. I keep reminding myself that the last time that we had a birth due in April (the 10th) Explorer was born on the 29th of May...385 days...but worth the wait!

We have been getting a lot of new fencing erected near to the birthing paddock and the girls have been kept entertained watching all the goings on. The men are due to finish today, so maybe when they are bored tomorrow we will get some births! Paul decided to build a field shelter himself in the end. I rather like his bespoke designs. This latest one can be accessed from two small paddocks and the gates can be used as the divider between the two, or used to close them in. This will be Explorer's new home when it is finished. Our land is split by the farm lane, with five acres on the far side. Thus it makes sense to have this as the quarantine paddock (ponies are on some of the land too). So the boys will be getting moved into the new paddocks which are within the main body of land.

Still quite a bit of work to do....Paul's field shelter is taking shape

The quarantine group will be made up of three new females. I introduced Inca Garland on the last blog. Today it is the turn of EP Cambridge Aria. Aria is a daughter of EP Cambridge Peruvian Caesar, a male who was always kept in-house by EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud (Aust) so pretty rare genetics in the UK. Although white herself, she has consistently produced fawns when put to a fawn sire. However, her most exciting progeny so far is the very impressive white male; Valley Alpacas Diplomat. She fits well with our breeding goals, especially that of low variation in micron having an SD of 3.9 and CV of 15.60 at 5 years of age.

EP Cambridge Aria

On the subject of low variability of micron; there is an interesting article is the latest issue of Alpaca Culture. Titled 'The Who, What, Why and How of Skin Biopsy', by Rob and Joanne Stephens. Of the alpacas studied (and we are assuming that most are elite females or stud males) the average micron variation between primary and secondary fibres was 9.2 (over the 3 studies). They quote Dr Norm Evans: "males with a wide micron variation (between primary and secondaries) pass this on to at least 80% of their offspring". Wow that is a high percentage, especially with such a negative trait. He continues "Anything under 5 to 5.5 seems very desirable and genetically strong". Now I know all that might make me look like a bit of an alpaca anorak...but I need to show off...BECK BROW EXPLORER...difference between primary and secondary fibres...5.3 microns...and 80% inheritable...looking good my boy!

Right, the next blog will be featuring a newly born cria. My prediction for Galaxy is...a fawn female that looks exactly like St Patrick. Galaxy is the grand dam of Foxy Sox so a duplicate would be good. Well one things for certain it will look like St Pat...he likes to pass on his good looks. He has his first mobile matings on Saturday...he will no doubt return home and give his paddock mate Snowstorm a hard time...once he starts mating he does get rather above himself!

Sunday 14 April 2013

Its all about fawn...

Its been a while since I have been able to make such a claim...but its been a quiet week...and about time. too!

After getting the NWAG Alpaca Championship results off to Libby, and sending out a couple of press reports; that's my work with the show well and truly over. Until next year that is...when Dominic Lane will be judging a two-day NWAG Show, which will again be at the Borderway Mart, Carlisle.

Harvey from Blackberry Alpacas (Harvey Brown Photography) has kindly shared his images taken at the show. Here we have the two Supreme Champions (and I will post some more over the next few blogs).

 Suri Supreme Champion (kindly sponsored by Newland Alpacas) was won by Greenside Suri Romulas, a fawn intermediate male (above)

 The winner of the Huacaya Supreme Champion (kindly sponsored by Fowberry Alpacas) was Fowberry Nobility, an adult fawn male (pictured above with Jenny and Graham MacHarg)

Yesterday I put my show entry in for the BAS National Show. No, I haven't made a mistake.. that is a single entry. We aren't actually taking a show team, as I am helping out with ring stewarding (an opportunity to gain experience on the judging front). Our entry is Inca Garland and she will be going along with Team Inca.

I know... nobody ever believes me when I claim not to be making any more alpaca purchases...and to be fair I have no will power...but sometimes an alpaca is just too good to overlook. Inca Garland is a beautiful fawn maiden, and has some of the most desirable coloured genetics available; sired by the very impressive Popham Thunder, and with the renown Lillyfield Jack of Spades as the sire of her dam (Inca Eminence), she really was irresistible!

 Inca Garland

Inca Garland's fleece

On the fawn front, the excitement is building with two of our elite fawn females due any day; EP Cambridge Lady Gaga (pregnant to Waradene St Patrick of EPC) is at 324 days gestation. Bit early you might be thinking...and I would agree...except that she has birthed at 320 and 321 days previously. Silverstream Galaxy (still 18 microns aged 6 years old) is also pregnant to St Patrick, and is already bagged up and humming away to her unborn sunny day is my prediction!

It is always lovely to hear how our alpacas who have moved on to new homes are fairing, and we are lucky and grateful that our clients always take the time to keep us dated. Here we have Beck Brow Bendrago and Beck Brow Marco who are now owned by Stuart and Jean at Velvet Hall Alpacas.

Bendrago...would St Patrick be your daddy by any chance?

Here we have the two boys in their lovely new home. Notice how clean they both look...they have the Beck Brow Teflon coating...we only breed clean alpacas!

Monday 8 April 2013

The NWAG Alpaca Championships 2013

I keep thinking I have lost something...oh yes I know what it is...a great big massive weight off my shoulders...the NWAG Alpaca Championships are over!! As one of the main organisers of this new show (along with Cockerham Alpacas and Greenside Alpacas) we have had an incredible amount to think about, and felt under an enormous amount of pressure to get it right!

Set up started at 1 pm Friday and boy did we have to go some to be ready for exhibitors checking in from 5pm. Thankfully Craig had taken the day off work to help, as we really needed the afternoon manpower.  By Saturday morning we were already tired but the adrenaline (a mixture of excitement and fear) was keeping us all going. It was a very busy and a long day, and we were so grateful to have fantastic stewards who were running about all over the place including handling in the ring!. A special mention to Beverley Stewart (Lane House) who recorded all the results. We did remark that the intermediate white male class (one from the end) was the first Huacaya class that had no changes from the easy task keeping on top of results when this is the case...many many thanks Bev, and of course everyone else who all worked so hard.

Tim Hey was our judge and as always did a fantastic job; taking an apprentice judge (Joy Whitehead) through the Suri classes, as well as judging large numbers of Huacaya and progeny classes. He even supplied his own ring steward (Chris Deakin) who did a great job.

In amongst all the running around I was keen to keep an eye on what was happening in the ring. It was especially interesting for us, as this was the first show where we had clients showing Waradene St Patrick's progeny (our fawn stud male). First in were two junior brown females; Fowberry Songbird and Wiseman Sweet Coco and what fantastic results. Coco took Fourth place with great comments on fleece length and density...Songbird took 1st place and wait for this...the brown female championship!! Congratulations Jenny and Graham (Fowberry Alpacas) and Derek and Tracey (Wiseman Alpacas).

Jenny from Fowberry Alpacas; rather pleased with her beautiful Songbird

Derek from Wiseman Alpacas; he was pleased I just haven't a smiling photo!

The next St Patrick progeny in the ring was Florens Davinci who took second place in the junior fawn male class (well done Amanda) and last but not least Beck Brow Shackleton (fawn dam and sire) took fourth in a very competitive junior white male class. Well done Waradene St Patrick...Lady Gaga is due to deliver our latest St Patrick addition any day...excited!

Amanda (Florens Alpacas) a keen Chelsea supporter was very pleased with her all blue look!

We had entered an all white show team....nothing like fighting at the top!...Beck Brow Explorer was placed 1st and as always was commended on his presence as well as fleece. Beck Brow Magellan and Beck Brow Quintos were in he same very competitive intermediate white male class and came 3rd (Magellan) and 5th (Quintos). We were very pleased as the competition was stiff. Interestingly the champion white male line up of two juniors, an intermediate and adult; were all Cambridge Navigator progeny (Houghton Hall Perry took it as he did at the British Alpaca Futurity...stunner!)

We have had fantastic positive feedback about the show and we have been touched by the amount of support and sponsorship we received. I owe a big thank you to hubby Paul who had to do even more running about than normal (I know Viv!) due to me having a knee injury. I have posted the Champions on Facebook, and will do my best to get the results on the BAS site today.

On Sunday it took rather a lot of effort to get out of bed, but off we went to Bev and Andy's in Yorkshire to deliver their two new additions. Hamish and Dougal settled in quickly, and were hilarious; kicking the big boys out of the shelter and putting them on guard duty. It was lovely to see Fin, Noah and Kenzie looking so well. It was interesting to see that I had made a duff call on Beck Brow Kenzie (half brother to Crystal and Lexus)...definitely a good stud quality wethered!!!