What an exciting year we have had so far !! As well as the arrival of this year’s 13 cria, we have welcomed some new special additions to our herd. There are also more two more coming soon. At the beginning of 2016 we had the lowest number of alpacas on the farm for many years. Successful sales and the loss of two of our very oldest ladies mean’t there was more room in the barns and fields. This winter, we are pleased to say, there will be a few more true black ones.
We were truly grateful to get our hands on WD Miguel of Fowberry last year. He is an absolute joy and has produced excellent cria this year over a range of differing quality females. We eagerly await more of his black progeny next year now we have worked out why some of them are fawn!
When we we up in Yorkshire to acquire Miguel (and parting with our life savings), we also fell in love with Fowberry Nell and so it came to pass that Nell was offered for sale and we couldn’t say no. With a coveted Nobility cria on board a dam who only produces stud quality males, it just had to be done! Not wanting Nell to travel on her own, naturally her dam Giselle had to come too … They arrived in April and settled in immediately without any issues at all. Suffice to say we were broke but very happy.
But they are grey and we had set out to look for 2 black females! Nell and Giselle have both produced black cria before and we have the true black males to ensure they do again at some point. We are also very happy to complete our set of greys (classic, harlequin and modern in both silver and rose). We will love and enjoy the progeny whatever colour they turn out to be.
So back to black … Last year we decided to look for a couple of top quality true black girls. Some of our own ladies are getting on a bit in years and we wanted some fresh bloodlines. With herd health status more transparent these days and most breeders very happy to discuss all things transmissible, we felt much more confident about looking in the UK. Yes, we are a bit paranoid!
As for most serious black breeders, we were looking for strong framed, deep chested, true to type, true black females with soft handling fleeces, great fleece uniformity (low SD), lack of colour contamination, brightness, density, low visible primary fibres, all the usual…… and uncommon bloodlines. Easy you say!
Well not so easy.. After a herd book and internet search we found a handful of females which we liked on paper. We had ruled out animals with common bloodlines and farms without the necessary high herd health status. We did visit a small number of farms and enjoyed looking at animals and more importantly meeting their owners. Ultimately, the girls we were interested in were either unable to be prised from their owners or not quite what we were looking for.
Part of the thrill of breeding is sourcing your foundation animals and searching for the additions who will match your ideal whilst adding something a bit special. We have been fortunate during the last 15 years to have co owned or wholly owned black imported males who have done just that. We currently own two males, one imported from Australia and one from North America. Both offer the ideal traits we want whilst also complementing each other. Both have fabulous black bloodlines unique or rare in the UK.
An opportunity arose at the end of our initial search and we considered importing again. Having imported twice from North America via Canada, we can say it is not for the faint hearted. Especially if you feel guilty about what you are asking these animals to do; leave their farms and travel (eventually) on a plane to parts unknown, having been poked and prodded regularly along the way. Buying well handled, adjusted stock is important for this reason.
The decision to look at New Zealand for our next import was prompted by an excellent contact with an indepth knowledge of the New Zealand alpaca industry. In our quest for a couple of stand out black females we were introduced to a farm who breed blacks for the same reason we do; luxurious handling fleeces, on show quality animals, for the commercial market.
So, we have our two females, the first of which is arriving next month. The other one is enjoying a New Zealand winter before hopefully joining us towards the end of the year. Oh, and while we were looking for males to breed them to, we came across a super duper true black proven male…. so he is also coming in August! 🙂
The next post will introduce you to them but until they are here, we won’t tempt fate. Here is a picture of one in quarantine.
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