Paul Hetherington – 6 December 2021

06 December 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

Paul Hetherington –  6th December 2021


There seems to be a recurring theme developing at Beck Brow……. Snow

We sheared in April and it snowed the day after, we weaned in November and it snowed the day after!

We have tried several scenarios for weaning over the years from putting mothers and cria at opposite ends of the farm – out of sight and hearing – to putting them in adjacent paddocks and splitting the barn in two with gates. This year, with two barns to use, we moved the weaned cria into the new barn and left their mothers in the old barn. The un-weaned cria and their mothers are also in the new barn so the newly weaned cria have some company and someone to follow in at feed time. Outside there is an empty paddock between them so the mothers can see and hear the cria but not go nose to nose.  None of the mums have been running in and out of the sheds looking for their ‘lost’ babies and no-one is pacing up and down the fence line. This looks like being the least stressful weaning yet. The cria haven’t made any fuss at all although it might help that we weaned 36 in one go!

After almost two years without being able to show our alpacas it was great that the halter shows started to run again in September. Showing is an enjoyable and important part of our business, a good way of promoting the herd. It was great to get back in the ring, not just to show the alpacas but to catch up with everyone, see how their breeding is coming along, and check out the competition

The show scene in the north was very busy this autumn with four shows to choose from. As well as Westmorland and Yorkshire there were two new shows, the Northern Halter Show at Penrith and the NEBAG show at Hexham. Both ran smoothly but there was a moment of panic during the organizing of the Northern Show. The colour of the champion sashes was being discussed and green was suggested. An un-named board member rang up in a panic – being a lifelong Rangers supporter (blue) he was worried that, if he won a sash, he would have to display his alpaca in Celtic colours (green). Not wanting to risk this potential embarrassment the sashes were ordered in purple.

The show season is over for this year but roll on the National Show next March.

One of the important yearly management jobs was completed in November – scanning the mated females. It’s always good to know where you are with pregnancy so you can sort out birthing groups and tailor feeding appropriately. We try and avoid ‘feeding up’ non pregnant girls and it also means we can start mating them early rather than waiting for a cria that is never going to arrive.

About 50% of the late birthers from this year who were only mated once were pregnant which is a bonus but disappointingly a couple who had spat off earlier in the year turned out not to be.”

The day after weaning

Happy smiling Suri enjoying the snow

Weaned cria fitting in

Westmorland Show in the sunshine”