If you have never participated in an alpaca show and are a new alpaca owner, you may be wondering what it takes to attend a competition. Spring is here, and our first show, Alpacapalooza, went off without a hitch this year! Our team at The Alpaca Group enjoys preparing our beloved alpaca for show season that we want to share our tips and information with you, here!
Getting Started with Cria
Your first step in competing in an alpaca competition is to assess your newly born young ones to see who might be a candidate for the show team. It may be essential to evaluate last year’s team to determine any that may no longer be appropropriate choices, either due to quality, breeding status, or age.
Once you choose a crop of appropriate crias, your next step is to determine the shows in which they will shine. For instance, if alpaca are too young by show time, their fleece may not be long enough for them to participate in a full fleece competition.
Once you have chosen your show team, there is a timeline that should be followed to make sure that your animals are trained consistently and are ready when competition time arrives.
3 Months Prior to Show
- Registration: It is common for most shows to send out registration information approximately 3 months before showtime. Some have early bird registration and offer cost discounts. The sooner you apply, the better, as it is very difficult to get into a show as the date nears. You will need to provide the AR number, age, name, color, sex, microchip number, and a photocopy of your animal’s ARI certificate. You will also need to provide permission to show animals that you do not own, and your payment for participation in the competition. You can request a particular number of stalls and any electrical outlets you may need. Consider making a hotel reservation as early as possible if you are traveling from out of town.
- Grooming: Once you are scheduled to participate in a show, be sure to move your team to a clean pen or paddock. Depending on your current husbandry practices, you may or may not need to keep your animals cleaner than usual. It is natural and expected that alpaca will collect debris, straw, and hay in their fleece, as well as some mud, especially if spring rains are in full force. However, daily care, from now until show time, will help you keep debris at a minimum. Do not worry about impeccable standards, however. General good grooming is enough, and over-grooming may even violate show rules.
- Halter Training: Alpaca will need to adjust to wearing their halters over time. Practice 10-15 minutes per alpaca per day to ensure a strong performance when show time arrives.
Creating a display to represent your farm or ranch is an excellent way to build your name in the industry. Creating signage, including a banner to hang above your stall, business cards, and ribbons from prior years, if applicable, can all help to showcase your business for your audience.
1 Month Prior to Show
Halter training should be in full swing by this point. You may choose to focus mostly on the “leading” section of training, which encourages stubborn cria to walk alongside their trainers. However, judges will also focus on the way in which your animal walks around the ring, and will make a final determination based on a hands-on evaluation of your animal. Your alpaca should become accustomed to being touched, and by people other than yourself. Judges specifically look at your alpaca’s bite, the fleece along his or her back, neck, tail, down the legs, and at the genitals, to confirm the sex of the animal and to make sure it is of breeding quality.
Meet with Your Vet
Now, one month before the show, is the perfect time to obtain a CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection), which you will need to participate in most livestock shows. Let your vet know ahead of time how many alpaca she will be examining, and when you plan to leave for the show. Your transport date will be indicated on your papers, which are only good for 30 days. Scheduling this appointment as far ahead of the show date as possible will help ensure that you get your CVI in time to participate.
Be sure that your show display is functional by setting it up as planned. This will allow you to see any flaws and target any issues that may have come up. Shop for items you may need for your display now, including fans, chairs, food items, guest book, metal binder rings, and plastic brochure and card holders.
If the trip from your farm to the show is long, you may wish to make sure your vehicle is up to snuff before the show. Be sure your vehicle registrations and insurance are all up to date.
If you are looking to enter the Fleece competition, it will be necessary for you to prepare your fleece ahead of time. Make sure to store it in clear plastic bags marked with index cards with the alpacas’ names, age, and ARI numbers, as well as the class entered.
Create a Vet Bag
For emergency situations, be sure to create a travel vet kit, in case of any emergencies at the show, including accidents or sickness. Include Neosporin, a thermometer, saline solution, sterile gauze, rubbing alcohol, teramycin, iodine, vet wrap, and a stethescope. Other items to include are Bismol, mineral oil, towels, syringes and needles, Banamine, tweezers, plastic bags, and electrolytes. Preparing ahead of time can help to prepare you for any small issues that may occur on show day.
Enjoy the time leading up to your first show! In the next installment, we’ll explain what to do a week before a show . . . and a few pointers for acing the big day!
#2: Benefits of Raising an Alpaca
Maybe you saw an alpaca at a country fair and fell in love, or a friend suggested you look into purchasing an animal or two to raise on your 1+ acre of land. People come to the alpaca lifestyle through many different avenues. However, if you are thinking of bringing one of these sweet creatures into your life, you probably want to know the benefits before leaping head-first.
Alpaca are easy to care for, gentle, social animals. In addition, owning and raising alpaca is a financially strong decision. Read on to find out how owning these delightful animals can improve your life and even become an income source!
Alpaca make great pets. Simple to nurture, they are safe for and kind to children. They do not challenge fences and are not destructive to their pens. While raising a single alpaca is not advised, due to their social needs, a pair or more will create pleasant comradery on your property. Alpaca are naturally curious and enjoy interacting with their caretakers. In them you will find gentle, communicative pets.
A Sense of Community
There are a wide variety of groups and events in the Pacific Northwest for alpaca owners and their beloved livestock. Alpacapalooza is an annual event organized by The Alpaca Association of Western Washington (AAWW), where regional alpaca owners can come together to socialize, share their livestock, swap tips, sell products, and go home with ribbons and prizes. The Alpaca Group is a proud sponsor of and participant in this event.
If you are involved in fiber arts and crafts, alpaca fiber provides an exceptional base for handspinning. Interweave provides a list of regional spinning groups that offer crafters a sense of community. The best part? By shearing your alpaca – a necessary part of regular alpaca care – you create instant material to fuel your craft.
Raising alpaca can create a pleasing tax benefit for you at the end of the year. If you decide to breed your animals, these animals are considered a capital asset. Thus, their care may be able to be categorized as a business expense. Any income derived from the sale of a capital asset may be taxed at a lower rate than other sources of income, and you could be able to deduct the expenses associated with caring for your animals, including veterinary bills, feed bills, and even marketing costs.
Tangible property may also be depreciated, including barns and fences. Owning and breeding alpaca is an excellent way to generate tax-deferred wealth building. For those nearing retirement, the passive income generated from a small alpaca farm can add to the appeal of the alpaca lifestyle. However, because tax laws vary considerably depending on each individual’s situation, be sure to contact an expert to find out exactly what deductions and benefits apply to you.
Our Buy Back Program
If you would like to not only own alpaca but make money back on each cria born from one of our Dams (female alpaca), you’ll love our Buy Back program! Each Dam you purchase will be pregnant. When her baby is six months of age, we will be happy to buy him or her back from you at 40% of the purchase price of the mother. If you decide to breed your Dam with one of our World Class Herdsires once again, we would be happy to buy this baby back from you as well, again at 40% of the original cost of the mother. This program allows you to make back the original cost of your alpaca purchase, and provides a financially sound option for individuals who wish to keep their herds small.
Raising Alpaca can be a fantastic experience, and opens doors for you to finance a refreshing farm lifestyle that includes annual shows, the excitement of breeding with our champion herdsires, crafting with world-famous fibers, and so much more. Want more info? Contact our informed and enthusiastic staff!