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Nero Black Alpaca Blog

2 days ago

Alpaca Breeder Blog

Being an alpaca breeder is seriously damaging to ones longevity!

Before continuing I made a massive omission from my inaugural blog – in listing many exciting things coming up on the horizon I failed to mention the wedding, 7th June 2019, of our eldest son Jack to Becky, just outside their adoptive home town of Congleton.

They are understandably off the scale with excitement and it’s infectious. Whilst we’re a little way away they’ve kept us well up to speed with choice of venue, save the date info etc. Hannah is relishing being a bridesmaid and she and Becky are submerged in dialogue planning the things that Brides and Bridesmaids do??

Of course we’re already now counting the days to this momentous occasion which ties in nicely with the main theme of this blog. As alpaca breeders we are constantly wishing our lives away as eagerly anticipate a whole host of exciting, forthcoming events.

Having finished last years show season at Yorkshire in October we began the countdown to 1st December when entries to the Nationals opened. Conscious we had been too late the previous year I was logged in at 9.00am sharp. Maximium entries were achieved in 2 or 3 hours I think, but we were in, six spaces reserved. But this was almost 4 months before the show – now its next weekend – where has all that time gone?

At the start of Feb we had to name the 6 entrants – one “Intermediate” aged 12-24 months and 5 weanlings 6-12 months. The Intermediate was halter trained last year and for him it’s like riding a bike. Training for the “winkles” as we affectionately refer to them started very late, was not going great but as you will see to some degree, from the video taken on Saturday, is now progressing nicely. That said there’s much more to do as the seven cria not in the National show team have yet to start.

As for most of you in the UK the weather is atrocious – the snow looks pretty but its masking very soggy, muddy paddocks not ideal for a well turned out show team. Fortunately as part of our plans going forwards we built a 130sqm American Barn recently. So as of Sunday morning that is now home for the chosen six and with a following wind they should be dry and a lot tidier come next Saturday.

Whilst showing is great fun and very sociable the highlight every year is birthing. Gestation for an alpaca is typically 11 ½ months – yes nearly a year! Based on this we have 11 cria due (plus some agisted mums) between the middle of May and the end of August. But you guessed it we are already counting the days and will be very ready by the end of April as we find our average is a week or two quicker than the norm.

Then to cap it all, as I alluded to last time, we are already planning which males will cover which females this spring/summer as, following a straight forward birth the female will be re-mated approximately 2 to 3 weeks later. I know all you human mums out there will be gasping and calling me all sorts but trust me (I used to be a financial adviser) the girls will be ready, willing and able. Often they sit next to the fence adjacent to the studs paddock after only a few days!

Away from the alpacas again and hot off the presses – Kestrel has come in to season. More than a month ahead of what we expected. We planned a trip in two weeks time to the Borders to meet two potential suitors. No time for that now. We had to choose based on some lovely chats with owners and she is off a week today to rendez-vous with Dexter! And then figures crossed – a 58 day count down.

So in summary its:-

5 days to the National Show – good luck to everyone showing – if not do come along if you can
6 weeks to our first 2018 birth and 8-9 weeks to our first mating
8 weeks til we move into the Log Cabin
10 weeks or so til Kestrels Pups arrive – doggy gods willing – but very close to Northumberland show
14 ½ months til Jack and Beckys wedding by which time half of our 2019 cria may have arrived!
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That’s brilliant news for Jack and Becky ❤️🥂

Where is kestrel going !we are off to Lockerbie

Our friend Jane who loves to come and help with the alpacas every week, is doing a grand job 🙂

So if you are reading this new page you have opted to do so, I hope. I am trying out using a Facebook Page as a light-hearted Blog. Whilst I have learned a lot over the years Kathryn is the Alpaca Technician – I am the labourer with a bit of “working knowledge”.

As I say this is not intended as a technical piece. Kathryn and I have so much going on this year I sincerely hope some of it will be of interest and who knows maybe of use to you in the future??

We – well Kathryn really – started alpaca breeding 11 ½ years ago. I supported, very much from a distance, but since having given up the rat race to run the B&B with her 8 years ago, I have become increasingly involved and engrossed with the alpacas. In the early years we received great support and advice from Inca (foundation herd), Fallowfield locally, Fowberry and Beck Brow with studs and Kathryn, particularly, has some very close confidants in the alpaca world (you know who you are:). Over the years we then have taken great pleasure in helping other breeders and pet owners alike establish or grow their herds too.

One of the main inspirations in starting this blog was the joy of the last month, agreeing the sale of seven alpacas to five different homes. One brand new pet herd, two studs, a weanling female and two pet boys to an existing herd.

We have a small number of alpacas still available as part of our ongoing discipline to keep our numbers manageable and fun. We have 13 pregnant females of our own this year and two agistment girls. We are likely to have a couple more females on farm to birth so plenty here to report on.

Two and a half years ago Houghton Hall allowed us the opportunity to buy our first outside stud – Cosmic. More of him in a mo but first please bear in mind this was after 9 years of breeding! One of Kathryn’s original principles was only to use the very best studs. The Herds we used are noted above and in particular Jack of Spades, Centurion, Miguel and St Patrick have all contributed significantly to the Nero Black Alpaca herd - Not least by helping us breed our own studs. Ice and Reddington have gone to pastures new but Shadow and Bamboo remain as part of our team.

Back to Cosmic – at almost 18 months old he hadn’t been shown but Mick and Liz rated him. Kathryn did too and so to Hexham from St Ives he came. We are delighted with his first cria not least due to his propensity to throw females – nine out of eleven. Those of you that know us well will know we have had more than our fair share of males over the years!

Three Cosmic cria are at the Nationals next week and a fourth was Sapphire, the beautiful weanling female we sold to Little Alpaca Company. Who knows how they’ll do, together with three others – I’ll let you know on here.

Never wanting to stand still Kathryn is now turning her attentions to our next herdsire. We have some lovely new boys from last year but they can’t all stay and we need some new bloodlines. Of course she already has some ideas but is a long long way from deciding. Hopefully there will be some exciting prospects appearing at Telford next week to consider too.

Other than the Nationals we are attending the Scottish Championships and our favourite local show Northumberland in the coming months. Then of course there is the small matter of moving from our temporary home “The Vicarage” into our new Log Cabin, by mid May. Norwegian Log will likely hand over by Easter but then there’s tiling, carpeting, two bathrooms and a kitchen to fit.

Will has his A Levels coming up and is actively planning a life after school, that doesn’t involve Uni. In May we plan to mate Kestrel our 3 year old Labrador Gun Dog – so pups 2 months later - fingers crossed.

Then of course we have 14 females to plan 2018 matings for and hopefully a busy period doing outside matings with Shadow, Cosmic, Bamboo and new for 2018 Mountbatten.

So all in all lots to write about I hope. As this evolves please do let me have your thoughts and input.
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Thanks for the mention Paul.. look forward to reading your blog!

Loved reading this Paul, so glad to be part of your ongoing journey x

Interesting stuff mate. Good watching as sheds, herds, and houses have got bigger. Well done both of you!

Really great to hear this wonderful story Paul. Love to you both

Paul, that is so great. Wonder how you manage to fit in painting cars as well

Look forward to hearing more. Always interested to hear about alpaca breeding from the other side of the world

How exciting and so busy. Looking forward to seeing you at the Nationals next weekend

Always extremely interested to know about what's happening with your beautiful herd. You've worked hard to make it a success. Be very proud both of you. xx

Nice one big boy, good to hear all the news, looking forward to a good chat next week! X

Fascinating to read this Paul. Was so lovely to catch up with Kathryn when she came to Congleton. So happy for you that everything is going well with your new adventure. Hoping one day to get up your way and introduce my partner Dave to you both. Talk to him a lot about my time in beautiful Hexham. Happy times somersaulting over the lounge beam in Fairshaw Rigg 🤣🤣xx

Sounds like you made the right decision Paul leaving rat race congratulations to see you and will on the hexham fairways this year 😁

Excellent idea and very well written. Just goes to show much you have packed in over the years! Delighted those girls are turning up now too 😉 Looking forward to catching up with you both at the National 😍🎉

A lovely, positive read about your herd! How far you have come, exciting times!

A lovely read. It's always interesting to hear about established herds as being fairly new to breeding.

You 2 are nuts! Which is a key requirement for a great friendship - never be dull! Maz & i think you should Vlog your special breeding intervention technique! It’ll go viral & make you a mint mate. Especially now we know you are known a ‘Big Boy’ Happy days....

Wow, I feel exhausted reading how busy you both are!! A busy and exciting 2018 for you. Love the blog - think you need to upload some videos too so we can all see your beautiful alpacas and puppies (when they arrive!) 🐶x

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