Alpaca & Muscovy

Helen Kendall Smith

Early Acorn drop – poisonous to Alpaca and can choke cria – beware

I do not often blog without a photo but I have had quite a few emails in the last few days about folk experiencing  early Acorn falls.

Generally speaking Acorns fall late September through to November but as with many other things, its all happening early this year due to the warm weather. Folk are experiencing Acorns on the ground now and it is new acorns that are most toxic to all livestock, as they dry out and often burst, tannins are released and they are less toxic. Still a danger but less so as they are older and often removed by squirrels/mice by this time.

Whilst in a perfect world we do not really want Oak trees in livestock fields, they have many advantages in providing shelter from the elements too. We would always protect a tree rather than fell it and there are many ways of protecting livestock from access to eating acorns.

First of all, you can remove livestock from the field during this period and use it as a time to “rotate” your paddocks which is good pasture management ie rest that field. You can do this in a big field by erecting posts and a temporary fence between which is removed at a later time, when the acorns have been removed.

Alternatively, you can lay debris netting under the branches – obviously only viable in a small oak and not one of substantial size! – which collects the acorns which can be disposed of safely. not forgetting that they provide essential nutrients for other wildlife they could be “released” elsewhere away from your livestock for wildlife eg squirrels to eat.

alternatively you can use a paddock hoover to collect the acorns on a daily basis if the area is accessible.

If the oak belongs to someone else and it is only branches overhanging, then you can talk to the owner about cutting the branches down to remove the threat to your livestock which should not affect the tree if done when the sap is no longer rising. unfortunately this is after the acorn drop so if you haven’t thought about this yet – it is too late now to cut branches down this year.

of course there will be those amongst you who have Oak trees in their fields who have never experienced a problem and/or some Alpaca will eat a few to no effect. However, leaving them where Alpaca can access is not a sensible route as it is the “unknowledgeable cria” who usually fall victim by either eating young acorns when small or physically choking on them.

It is true that often older Alpaca will leave them alone but only if there is plenty of feed/grass/hay/other to eat and it is not a risk we would ever take or recommend.

Of course this is only my opinion and advice offered herein with best intentions.

I know many herds with Acorn trees in their fields who have never had a problem – they usually poover them up or keep the Alpaca out – but as always – prevention and being proactive is best!



September 1st 2014 Indian Summer ahead?


Well it is the first of September today and wow what a difference. yesterday was fantastic sunshine and today is drizzly rain. it is warm though and with the weathermen (what do they know) predicting and Indian Summer the log cabin will be super new ready for the winter. Farming is not just about the livestock – field maintenance, fencing maintenance and “house” maintenance too! Hubby donned some very attractive overalls and got on with it – no posh contractors here – just us!

see the before and after clearly… what a difference but pity about the smell!


Legendary Cria!


We are really proud of this little girl who is born to a super mum indeed. Her mother we purchased a number of years ago and her sire is Kensmyth Legend who is out of Aria who is by Peruvian Spartacus. Elite cria from Elite bloodlines and look at the result!

meantime – busy with husbandry duties and a lot of help in cleaning out all the hay racks to mix in new hay gently …


don’t you just love it when they tip the wheelbarrow over and try and take off with it!



Alpaca afternoon tea

Many folk know that we have special lanes around our farm for Biosecurity purposes and Alpaca moving… we also have the marquees for Events close to the farmstead and totally separate to the Alpaca grazed fields but they can see with ever increasing curiosity as to what is happening .

After an event last week, varying Alpaca had to be moved around tea time and although they do a hard left into a field… it did conjure up a certain caption in my imagination…


Any afternoon tea left?



pity about the washing on the line in the photo!

sunset on summer Alpaca – an Indian Summer?


well the sun has faded, the temperatures have dropped and the weather men still did not forecast the rain that came today.

Sometimes though, one looks at the winter with the welcome of the seasons and I am really pleased that, as I had as a child (showing my age) we seem to be getting more of a difference now. Autumn is definitely on the way, we definitely had a Summer and we definitely had a Spring this year. Winter is to follow.

Meantime, some of our cria are definitely setting their sights on the British Alpaca Society National Show 2015….



Kensmyth Alpaca Cria coats


Well today has been a funny old day weather wise – starting with around 11 degrees and not really getting that much noticeably higher because of the wind. What a change. Still, Autumn is on its way, blackberries are out, apples nearly ready and plums soon too. Hay and straw in the barn and fat chossy cria will be prepared for Mrs Winter.

Preparations for early cria always involve cria coating and now is a time that I take a good look at the coats and do the mending, washing and rewaterproofing. Cria coats are drying everywhere then waxed and dried again before putting away for next years babies due!

Yes that is a skirting table they are laid out on and I am only a quarter way through that job too!





Alpaca Walking 2014

well we have been busy with birthing and various husbandry issues and grass care but our Alpaca Walking has really taken off this  year.

Mum wanted to see some of our first born Clay Meadow cria doing their jobs (ie yearling males) and so here we have a glimpse of the pleasure of Alpaca Walking at Kensmyth!!

Kensmyth Alpaca stand at VWH

I promised to come back to you on the Alpaca stand we took to the VWH event which was fab as usual. So lovely to be invited to display our lovely Alpaca stand and products. I even managed to catch up with my old Blacksmith… well he’s not old actually but its nearly 7 years we have been breeding Alpaca not horses now! Great fun had by all!


exhibiting in a stable was a first but the manger rings came in handy…


and Mitchell came too whilst hubby and Ollie looked after the pacas…

Mitchells Duck book display was fab… and the burgers were excellent – great turn out!