Monthly Archives: September 2016
Most of my regular readers will have clocked the occasional Sheep article over the years and those who know me well, also understand my “farming background” is solidly based on Sheep Farming in Wales (LLangrannog, Ceredigion to be precise) back in the day alongside Goats too.
We have been members of various Sheep Societies for many years and alongside Boer Goats so it is hardly surprising to advise that my passion also lies in the Rare Breeds of the UK.
We regularly attend Rare Breed Sales and County Shows in order to keep up with Sheep and falling numbers in various Societies.
Lets face it, even our Dog is a Rare Breed !
We looked very hard over the last two years at the “rising trend” in imported livestock, especially the Black Nose Valais Sheep but, as expected, we turned firmly back (variety of reasons and sound business plan) towards the UK Rare Breeds.
Finally we made the choice of the ever popular Grey Faced Dartmoor which compliment the orchard and home paddocks around the Homestead and Car Park for visitors as they are small,
alongside the stunning Wensleydale of which we have also started a tiny BLACK flock. photo here of one seen at Melton Mowbray Rare Breed Sale
Please note – all Sheep are grazed away from the Alpaca, total only a few and all are MV ACCREDITED.
I think that the Curly Coated Retriever alongside a Black Wensleydale just HAS to be seen!
photo below taken at Melton Mowbray Rare Breed Sale recently…
Please note – we NEVER graze any combined livestock and Alpaca and Sheep are kept totally separate at all times.
For those of you with “champagne taste” but Beer money, Alpaca prices can be very off putting as they vary tremendously due to age, quality and progeny not to mention critical genetics.
Folk talk about Phenotype and Genotype but at the end of the day it boils down to simply – “what do you want the Alpaca for?” Are they for Pets, the Show Ring or commercial fleece production?
If you are looking for a PET and pay PET prices, do not expect it to win at the British Alpaca Society National Show!
YOU are the one who has to see to the every day needs and requirements in the wet muddy paddock in freezing temperatures and attend to water etc in the hot burning temperatures – so buy what you like and everything else will follow.
What are you looking for? Do you want to breed for the Show ring, in which case the “look” of the Alpaca is key, along with the fineness of the fleece which must have crimp to please the judges.
Heads with full coverage are key for the Show Ring.
Are you looking to breed for fleece to produce for garments? in which case you need not worry so much about the “look” of the Alpaca or indeed its crimp but need to look at its size and staple length for fleece production. Small bodied alpaca do not produce as much fleece as bigger Alpaca but if the fleece is no good at all, then you will not get very far producing scratchy itchy fleece from poor quality Alpaca.
Big IS really beautiful, IF the fleece matches and is good quality.
Fleece stats (statistics) are helpful but they are only like an “MOT on a car” as they only cover that time for that Alpaca, it does give some indication but only at that time of year at that moment on that particular years fleece. All too often folk use the “cria” or First fleece statistics which are bound to be the best. FEELING the fleece softness on the Alpaca is far better than reading statistics on paper without seeing the Alpaca it came from.
Ultimately HOW you feed your Alpaca and the weather conditions will change the fleece anyway. For example, it is widely known that the Alpaca in Australia lose several micron if moved to New Zealand – obvious really as the climate and grasses change dramatically.
So put Alpaca in a lush grassy field, overfeed it and you will get a higher micron and poorer quality fleece statistic than the Alpaca is genuinely capable of. simples.
look at the parents, do you like what you see?
Is the breeder keeping back females in their own herd… always a good sign and just selling older females which could thus be a bargain starter herd?
look at the males – are they correct behind?
“Bite” does not mean they physically bite but, like sheep means the teeth meeting the palate in a sensible manner. not too overshot or undershot. if you are looking for a fleece producing Alpaca, this matters less than if you want a “show one”. If bad though, it is not something we would breed from regardless of the quality of the fleece. Likewise temperament, if the Alpaca is unmanageable in its temperament then chances are, its progeny will carry some if not all of that trait.
When you send your fleece to be made into yarn, you get out what you put in but it is still not as soft as natural fleece. make sure you know what you are buying, how to look after it, the fact they must live in herds of at least three (not singly), they can live 20 years plus and you buy from someone who is willing to help and advise!
Nothing is set in stone in the Alpaca world and this is only my opinion based on nearly ten years of breeding Alpaca, without issue and with a longstanding very successful fleece production business!
Kensmyth Stud has Alpaca of most colours to suit all types and all budgets, some are available now, please enquire.
We will tell you honestly what “type” of Alpaca they are and what they are best suited for!
Well, I have changed my mind. Well I am a woman after all! Hmm, Rhino skin hands perhaps belies that… well anyway I have decided the BEST, no, the BEST EVER Sticky Toffee Pudding is to be had only at the Greyhound in Siddington.
Food is fab there and they have a few new hunky waiters and waitresses apparently (not at 52 it is me looking of course) but on a recent visit, they have surpassed The Tunnel Inn at Coates on their Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Excellent service, pub or restaurant whichever you want, masses of beers etc to choose from and all the local ambiance of Traditional Pubs of “back in the day”.
with a Ham, Egg and Chips to warm the coldest soul and Sweet Potato Fries and Fishcakes…
now how come my home cooked Sweet Potato Fries never look like that??
well as the beautiful big skies will turn cloudy and the Indian Summer sun fades into colder nights, a little way of keeping that “summer feeling” is to have your own fresh herbs handy…
a little Mozzerela cheese sliced with Beef Tomatoes (anyone know why they are called that please?) along with Fresh Basil…
now that IS reminiscent of Fawlty Towers is it not?
sometimes the little things in life mean a lot. It is not the huge gifts that we receive or the fantastic holidays – well farming folk do not have those anyway – but the little things in life that mean a lot sometimes…
the blackberries on the bushes that are FREE FOOD FROM NATURE…
and the beautiful apple pie a friend made for me the other day…
With Chas and Dave on next week end – yes the real ones and I am showing my age, the Tunnel Inn at Coates has already been recommended by us… great pub grub at sensible prices with great service…
BUT I have to say that the Green Park Restaurant near Costco in Reading has the most SHAMAZING puddings and you would not believe this is an “Eton Mess” – nope, my friend eating not me!
I am always behind with blogs because we are so busy with livestock care, field care and Visitors that I always do a massive update rather than daily – so some news items are a little while ago… this is one of them.
Many know that Cirencester has its own Agricultural Market at Driffield where livestock and poultry as well as farming equipment are sold on a regular basis. This is adjacent to the Countrywide store which is similar to the Mole Valley Farmer chain of stores, supplying most animal and farming items required for routine work. It is a very friendly clean, tidy well penned market with great Auction rings.
The Rare Breed sale is always exciting to attend (if no cria due) as one can see livestock of many breeds and types brought together in one place which is not often seen. I apologise but I do not look at the cattle as I have no interest in those (other than my friends Yaks and another friends Dexters of course) but the rest was fun – see how many different types of Sheep you can guess…
how are you doing so far?
and we must not forget the endearing Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs…
all too often I hear “why are your cria so much bigger than mine?” Many express incredulity at the size of our Alpaca cria compared to their own but the answer is very simple. We keep the feed regime strict but continuous. that way the cria learn that the “trough” contains something every single night of the year and that the quicker they get to it, the better before Mum steals it. Hence the cria eat hard food at an early age – usually from 2 weeks here – which helps them grow and aides their safe Weaning at a later stage.
see for yourself…
note to the left of the photo it also shows lowered water refillable troughs which means cria can drink water at all times. This is critical in hot months as, although Mothers milk is essential food and fluids, cria also need to hydrate with water and should have it accessible at all times.
The right hand photo shows yearlings and two year olds using the same feed “off the ground” method but still at cria height!
No, really there are no Hamsters that I am aware of at Kensmyth Alpaca farm but the little stretch of River we have at the very end of the farm is really beautiful at this time of year…
just see for yourself, great for Picnics for our Visitors and just take a look at the intricate detail of Mother Natures designs…
well we had a Birthday Boy today, my Father. An exceptionally talented, generous, kind and intelligent man who has seen an awful lot in his 85 years I can tell you!
Mum put onto the cake everything a “Dad” is from part time help to brother, you name it!
Then a fantastic 85 for Dad to blow out with candles and then…
pictures of the grandchildren etc all around the cake – what a fab idea!
The cake Mum, as always, just stunning!
Dad loves visiting the Alpacas and seeing the newborn cria with Mum too.
Happy Birthday Dad!