Beck Brow Alpacas looking forward to 2023
Undoubtedly, we can look back on 2022 as being a great year for us here at Beck Brow. Lots of healthy cria born, a great show season (maybe we could stretch that to an exceptional show season, having won both the Huacaya Halter and Fleece National Championships – that is not going to happen every year!) Craig (son-in-law) joined the alpaca business and proved himself to be such an asset. However, never ones to rest on our laurels, we are excited for what 2023 will bring. But first, we need to get to spring.
Winter is always challenging for anyone farming and this one has thrown plenty at us. With a very wet start, we were happy to see the frost arrive. However, we would have been grateful to have had -1 degrees for a few days, not minus 9 degrees for more than a week. So much work carrying water around the farm, but at least we could be assured that any parasites harboring on the land would be well and truly goners.
Of course, it never pays to complain. for after the thaw came rain…then more rain…rain, rain, rain. The place was a mudfest. We have sandy soil, we sometimes need to put gravel down in gateways or on the track where the quads has been, but this was another level of mud in the runways. The alpacas really didn’t want to wade through the sludge. The decision was made…we need some mud control mats ….
We are now back to minus 8 and snow. Snow normally means a rise in temperature when compared to frost but not this time. We cant say that it isn’t pretty though.
The mud control mats were ordered and arrived within 3 days. We couldn’t believe how quickly they went down (the muddier the better it would seem). I can see these being my new addiction now that we have finished barn building.
In December we managed to get all the girls scanned (with very cold hands and warmed baby oil). We get very few surprises as our pregnant females are always next to stud males around the farm (yes, this is against some advice but the boys don’t fight, they are used to girls being around) which means we spot those who have dropped their pregnancies by seeing them sitting by the fence line of the boy’s paddock. This year was no exception all those flirts were empty (only four)
We used our ultrasound scanner and only had the one we weren’t certain about (a combination of a poor contact and a determination to sit tight). We also tried her with the Pregtone, but still inconclusive. Beck Brow Rocking The Tiara looks neat, but she is a daughter of Lady Gaga who still looks as trim as a maiden at 14 years old. This is one I was excited about (mated with Beck Brow Vidal) so fingers crossed. Due in April we will soon find out!
We used four different Suri males and twelve Huacaya in 2022 so a pretty exciting year is expected. After predominately coloured cria in 2022 we will be returning to more whites again in 2023 having used Bozedown Blaze of Glory, Beck Brow Glory Daze, Beck Brow Bring it On (now owned Chinchero Alpacas) and Beck Brow Skittle. Although, we will still see our fair share of colour born and especially look forward to seeing the cria of Beck Brow No Jacket Required (now owned Barnacre Alpacas).
Alpaca Sales and forward planning
With so many females confirmed pregnant, Paul has been getting rather twitched about our numbers…admittedly with good reason! Whilst not wanting to sell pregnant females at this stage of pregnancy (especially maidens who like to birth in the security of the group they know), I reluctantly agreed to put some 2021 females up for sale. It was lovely for us that the nine girls went in three groups (ideally we prefer the youngsters to leave with some friends) and the feedback has been very positive. We will be offering some pregnant females with cria at foot in the summer.
We had 12 of our 2021 young males booked in for castration today but it was decided with sub-zero temperatures to postpone until next week. These boys will be up for sale and will be a real miss on the farm. Such a lovely, good-natured group who have all been shown or used on BAS training courses, so very easy to handle. A few also attended Craig’s sister’s wedding and were star performers.
Many of you will remember that when we built our new barn we set up a latrine area. This has worked pretty well. Some stand in it and poo over the edges, but it is certainly better than a free for all. We were using wood pellets as used for biomass boilers. These were around £4 per bag early last year (as we purchased the pellets that hadn’t met the grade required for burning). However, with everything that is currently happening in the world, the government has relaxed the rules on grading and the same bags are now more than £10 .
I don’t need to tell you that this price hike was stressing Paul out. Counting the pellets, so as not to spend more than the allotted amount, was time-consuming. He even tried forgetting to put the pellets down and just putting sweepings in the latrine (reprimanded!)
Thankfully, we have found a cheaper option that serves the same purpose. We are using straw pellets from Food Wise which are priced at £7.50 per bag, and appear to be slightly more absorbent. Happy alpacas. Happy Paul. Oh, and Happy New Year…