Thursday 19 March 2015

A Fine Question about Alpaca Fleece Statistics....

I have a bit of dilemma: it concerns at what point do you sell a potential stud male, and when should you be considering them for your own stud, even when you own the sire? The question I have for those of you out there who are interested in fleece statistics unusual is Beck Brow Crafter's dam...

We purchased Silversteam Galaxy (ET) in 2009 as a two year old (she has Czar, Ruffo, Hemmingway in her pedigree). Her fleece stats were: 

MFD: 19.8,  SD: 4.1,  CV 20.7,  CF: 97.5%. 

Now, anyone who has visited our farm will know we have very lush grass and we can add a micron or two to the best of them. This is why we like to use AAFT for our fleece testing as the graph over time shows clearly what happens here in the spring and summer. However this female has never had anything other than a minuscule change in her fleece stats. Her graph is a straight line. Her Seventh stats are:

MFD: 19.7,  SD 4.3,  CV 21.9,  CF 96.9%

She has had five pregnancies but lost two to prematurity due to stress when weaning (we will be leaving her future crias at foot until her due date). Her daughter has produced two show quality cria but has had some incremental increase in micron with age, although still fine. We sold her other progeny. She is due to have a Goldmine cria next month. Goldmine had kept his fineness well, but has crept to 20 microns (sixth fleece) from 17.0. as you might expect I have never seen a fleece not change at all.

So the dilemma...Her son (Crafter) with St Patrick is a handsome boy, he has good density and grew a first fleece of 150mm resulting in a skirted blanked of 2.2kgs (cria fleece). His first fleece stats were MFD 19.2 microns. Thinking that we would be placing him on our for sale list we have had second fleece stats taken...

MFD 19.0,  SD 4.3,  CV 18.7,  CF 98.3%

Virtually exactly the same as his dam's second fleece stats and no shift in micron (actually slightly less) than his first. He is very healthy and is a good weight. Are we seeing an unusual genetic influence? With black toe nails, we believe, like his sire, he will be capable of producing with a constant micron....

Has anyone else had a fleece that hasn't had any movement in micron over time? 

Beck Brow Crafter's fleece taken last week (9 months regrowth)

He is so sweet natured. Here is below running to get his photo taken earlier today.

Beck Brow Crafter

Beck Brow Crafter with Julia, winning 1st placed Intermediate Fawn male at the BAS National Show

Crafter and Tracey.

Tracey from Wiseman Alpacas started work on the farm three weeks ago and it seems like she has been here forever (in a good way). She mucks in with every thing. Today she was poovering and still managed a smile...

Whereas Paul had the sitting down job of sweeping but didn't manage a smile

I was out early with the camera this morning. It actually felt like spring might be on its way. Here are some photos with the dew still down...

Above is a group of weanlings. Far left is Stargazer who came all the way from New Zealand at 6 weeks old. She had been born prematurely but the decision was made that she was better to travel and go in to summer in the UK. She has never looked back...I adore her.

I also adore Beck Brow Posh Pants (sister of Snooty Boots and Cat's Pyjamas) who is the image of Lady Gaga

And of course everyone adores Dixie Chick who has appointed her self leader of the weanling group (behind her is best friend Asterisk and Sputnik...yes he needs to be moved in with the boys). Okay we will just assume that I adore them all now...

Beck Brow Seventh Heaven

Beck Brow Adventurer (went to the BAS National Show at only 6 months old last week and got placed 1st)

Looking very cute is Kingwell Smokey Joe who is for sale when I get him advertised.

Last and least is Beck Brow Bond 007 who is 6 months next week, when he will be weaned. He is our first and only Goldmine cria. He does rather like himself

It was still misty when I was first out. Astor likes to come round the alpacas with me. I am sure she thinks that she is helping!

Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to fail yet again with a fleece shot. I thought it would be good to share a photo of Furze Park Sputnik on Facebook but unfortunately none did him justice. The only one in focus was of his upper leg which looks rather strange.

Furze Park Sputnik upper leg fleece

That's it ...I'm back out to enjoy the weather!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

The BAS National Show

After months of planning by the National Show Committee the BAS National Show has been and gone. Thank you to everyone who has given feedback claiming the show to be a resounding success. Its all down to the support that the show receives that such an event can be held...well done everyone!

I started off the week with a cold, so the decision was made not to attend the National Fleece Show and spread the bug far and wide before such an important weekend. This also meant my fleece entries failed to be judged. The first bit of bad luck. Was this an omen...

I then missed being at the back of a pile up of cars by inches. A downfall of snow on a steep hill, required hanging on to the handbrake and praying. Luckily those already involved including the motorcyclists were not critically injured. Okay all my good luck gone for the week...

However, we needn't have worried Beck Brow had a great show. We took seven juniors (plus one belonging to Florens Alpacas) and two intermediates. Two Black Sabbath progeny. Three St Patrick and five Explorer progeny. My secret wish was to come in the top three placings with all of the team...ambitious...but achieved!

Beck Brow Prime Suspect (shared Florens) Black Sabbath . 2nd placed junior black male

Beck Brow Jimmy Choos (Black Sabbath) 2nd placed junior black male (2nd class)

Beck Brow Seventh Heaven (St Patrick) 3rd placed junior brown female

Beck Brow Crafter (St Patrick) 1st placed intermediate fawn male

Florens Juno (St Patrick) 2nd placed junior fawn female

Beck Brow Bottoms Up (Explorer) 1st placed junior white female

Beck Brow Trendsetter (Explorer) 2nd place junior white female (2nd class)

Beck Brow Adventurer (Explorer) 1st placed junior white male

Beck Brow Asterisk (Explorer) 2nd placed junior white male.

Beck Brow First Edition (Explorer) Reserve Champion White Male (behind the eventual Supreme Champion)

It was the first time out for our new pop-up, featuring Beck Brow Explorer of course...


I am pleased to say that the show team were all pretty well behaved. That was until First Edition (Eddie) left the pen and lined up for his class. That was when Crafter decided to jump out after him. Considering that Crafter is in charge in the paddock, he did turn into a bit of a wuss without his friend Eddie.

Eddie (left) and Crafter

Crafter in the ring with Julia

First Edition (Eddie) Reserve White Male Champion (41 white males entered)

The past few months have seen me spending a lot of time sitting in my kitchen window discussing details of the show, with Julia, Philippa, Michael and Tim and also Shirley, Melanie and Harry, who are aware of my poor mobile reception and hence the inability to move. On many occasions we have been discussing fleece show details and sponsorship opportunities whilst I have a cat on my head (yes it would appear short haired, colour pointed cats like to sit on your head...or is it just ours).

I share this information because the show committee kindly presented me with a fabulous caricature of myself drawn by the very perceptive and highly talented Tracey Hey of Alpaca Pals and Inca Alpaca. Even the curtains are the correct colour as well as the wine. I love it...thank you so much.


It is very difficult to switch off and not start planning 2016 straight away...but with the Futurity and NWAG shows to come...a rest is required.