Judith Newman – 12th July 2021

12 July 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

Hi everyone, I hope that all is well with you and your alpacas and that those of you who breed are getting some beautiful healthy cria on the ground. We are expecting nine cria this year with, as I write, two having been delivered and seven left to go. We have had two lovely fawn females one of which was birthed by the Dam while we were still in bed in the morning and a lovely surprise when I looked out of the window at 6 am. The other was a breech delivery undertaken by our vet with both Dam and cria in good shape afterwards with the cria up and feeding within the hour and Mum passing the placenta soon after. Rather stressful at the time but a great relief to have them both healthy and bonded to each other.

I find that waiting for cria to be born can be both exciting and frustrating at the same time. We currently have one girl 3 weeks overdue, one two weeks overdue and two more that were due a few days ago. My family often ask me if it’s a problem when they are very overdue and can’t the vet do something about it. Every year I tell them the same that the cria will come when its ready and you cannot interfere with nature. There is of course an exception if you have a female at any stage of her pregnancy that is behaving out of character, looking very uncomfortable, maybe rolling and showing signs of labour that then stop. Unless you are sufficiently competent and have the experience to investigate what is going on you have to get a vet to come and check them over to make sure there isn’t a problem such as torsion or an incorrectly positioned cria that can’t be birthed naturally by the female. I am fine dealing with the more straightforward things but a breech baby was beyond my capability and we would have lost her if the vet hadn’t been called. Hopefully the next seven cria will be of the, “look out of the window and there it is”, variety!

Hay making is another waiting game as we have yet to see sufficient consecutive dry sunny days for it to happen here in Somerset. The earliest we have made hay is May and the latest is September and the early hay is definitely the best although the September hay was good and our animals all munched on it quite happily. It’s looking promising from the end of this week and so hopefully all will be gathered in by the end of July – wish us luck and good luck to you if you have yet to make your hay!

Now that most of us have completed shearing for 2021 some of you may be wondering what to do with your lovely fleeces. One option is to pick out your best fleeces skirt them really well and enter them into a fleece show. It’s a great way to get an independent assessment by a qualified BAS Judge of the range of qualities that we should all be aiming for with our breeding/buying programmes. Below is a copy of the Huacaya scorecard and below that Suri scorecard.

The Fleece Judging manual can be found in the Members Area of the BAS Website in the Shows section and provides lots of information underpinning the way that points are awarded under each heading of the scorecard. All of the fleeces entered into a show are anonymised and the Judge has no knowledge of which herd or alpaca the fleece comes from and you can be assured of an objective assessment of your fleece(s). The BAS Newsletter carries details of forthcoming fleece shows so have a look and dip your toe in the water.”