Edge Of Glory and Chaos come to Beck Brow
So much has happened since my last blog, that I have decided to include some sub-titles. If you have got this far you have probably decided to give it a go, but if you wish to keep it light avoid Vidal. If you want to get to the facts of the title, then you will have to read to the end…it’s called a teaser!
Switzerland and Norway
At the end of October Paul and I managed to get a few days away. Mainly a busman’s holiday (what else) as I had been invited to help judge at an alpaca and llama show in Switzerland. We had a great couple of days at the show, followed by a few days in Zurich. A relaxing time was had, knowing the farm was being well looked after by Holly Beckwith aka Holly Poppins
Back home for just over a week, we then headed off to Norway. This time a visit to Alpacajoy of Norway who hosted a very well run breeders clinic. I had been invited to join Ole Erik and Laila (owners of Alpacajoy) in providing some lectures and assisting with the hands-on evaluation. The weekend had been designed to include a good balance of theory and practical assessment exercises; with the aim of encouraging those attending to look at their breeding goals. We were made to feel so very welcome, met some lovely people, and saw some impressive alpacas too.
However, it had to be a very short visit to Norway as we had left a sick alpaca at home…
Beck Brow Vidal – Mycoplasma Haemolamae
Beck Brow Vidal (sire: Timbertop Goldmine of Beck Brow) is not only a favourite of ours, but he has also gained himself somewhat of a following on the show circuit. Starting his career as Reserve Light Male Champion at the BAS National Show 2018, he has gone on to be awarded seven further Championships this year. While this is a great achievement, it is his cheeky personality, not to mention the fluffy ears, that puts him on the special list.
Therefore, as you can imagine, to find him looking unsteady on his feet a day after returning from Switzerland, had us rather stressed. We managed to walk him down from the paddock, with plenty of stops to get his breath, and brought him into the stable right next to the house (which is open and airy). Razor Light was chosen as his companion, being the most gentle of the group of young males.
My initial thought was a chest infection. Listening to his chest (with a stethoscope) I could hear crackles in bases of both lungs. He was commenced on Ceftioflur and given an anti-inflammatory. His eyes were checked for anemia and were assessed to be okay. We also did fecal egg counts (clear). He was also given Combivit. He initially appeared to improve, then on day four we saw a deterioration again. Re-checking his eye colour we saw a definite change to a much paler colour and there was an obvious lack of energy. This immediately had us think Mycoplasma Haemolamme. This is a bacteria which attacks and destroys red blood cells. It can lie dormant and the alpaca may show no symptoms, but can take advantage when an alpaca is already under stress (in this case the chest infection). It would appear that yearlings and older animals are particularly at risk. We, therefore, commenced Oxytetracycline LA, gave vit B12 and vit B1. Luckily Vidal had not lost his appetite and was enjoying warm sugarbeet, while snug in his straw bed.
The following day Vidal’s eyes were paler still, and he was showing signs of severe anaemia (his packed cell volume count was in his boots) so it was decided he needed a blood transfusion. Rubic (a 2-year-old male) was the kind donor and Phil (the vet) did an excellent job administering a stress-free transfusion. We saw an improvement for the next week, but then some deterioration again. On veterinary advice, we recommenced a further course of Oxyteracycline (this time not the long acting, but daily, in order to keep levels more constant). That was three weeks ago and I am pleased to report Vidal is now fully recovered, and back to his weight before the illness.
Whilst ill, Vidal would not let Razor Light out of his sight, and cried for him if he was more than a metre away. Razorlight took his caring role very seriously and looked out for him at all times. I wonder if Vidal will revert to bossing him about with time. Or maybe they will be best buddies for life? Time will tell.
Thank you to Joanne and Ben for looking after Vidal so well when we were in Norway.
In October we entered the SWAG Fleece Show for the first time (Judge Tim Hey). Judith and her team run a very well organised show and we wanted to show our support. We entered Huacaya fleeces in the Black, Fawn, Light and White categories and were delighted with our results, taking Colour Championships in all colours entered, Supreme Champion and Judge’s Choice.
Beck Brow By Design (sire Beck Brow Explorer) took the Huacaya Supreme, following up from her supreme win at the Eastern Fleece Show (judges Mary-Jo Smith and Jay Holland)
Black Champion; Beck Brow Rock Star (now owned by Ardent Alpacas)
Fawn Champion: Beck Brow Kiss Me Quick
Light Champion: Beck Brow Vidal – Judge’s Choice
White Champion: Beck Brow By Design – Supreme Champion
Beck Brow Razor Light, Bedazzle, First Edition, and Dee Licious all awarded 1st places.
The Northern Fleece Show (hosted this year by the Scottish Alpaca Group) kindly invited me to be their judge for their show in November. Another well organised event with some extremely competitive classes and very well presented fleeces. Many congratulations to all who entered, and to all those involved.
This was closely followed by the fleece re-certification for BAS judges, and certification for apprentice judges. Our thanks to all those involved in the organisation of this event (no mean feat). The halter section will be held in January. This is a great opportunity for handlers to get involved and witness the process.
BAS National Show
Its the time of year when we start considering our entries for the BAS National Show 2019. Whilst we only have to indicate the number of entries we want at this stage (actual names are not required until early February) we have to have an idea of who we will enter, primarily as we have sold so many of our 2018 show team. Thus, it looks like our team will comprise of a lot of juniors next year. Final decisions will be made nearer the time but I am confident we can fill the 15 places booked and have a couple we wish we had entered besides.
The 2018 cria have all been registered. Lots of checking with the colour cards, as I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for the show organisers when there are all lots of alpacas entered in the wrong colour catagories. I have a couple that sometimes look white and sometimes look beige depending on the light. I will check again when we get some proper daylight (it is rather wet and dull, to say the least)
Sales and Purchases
The interest in alpacas has been tremendous during 2018. Apart from providing pet boys for those starting up treking businesses, we are delighted to have helped a number of new breeders realise their dream as new alpaca breeders (one of my favourite things to be involved in – exciting times). We have also sold a considerable number of females to existing breeders who wanted to add one or two ‘special’ females. While it is great that the industry is thriving, I might just have got a bit carried away…
When Paul recently asked the question “how many females do we have pregnant to Beck Brow Explorer and Beck Brow First Edition?” he didn’t much like the answer…only three to each. Initially, Bozedown Blaze of Glory got the blame (our new white male – shared Bozedown) but I was able to reassure Paul that Blaze had only been mated with Explorer progeny, Explorer’s dam and his sisters (no one Explorer could cover). We simply don’t have lots of white/light alpacas unrelated to Explorer and his son. So what to do…what a dilema…how to keep Paul happy? I know…add some unrelated genetics to the herd. He is sure to be pleased about that (honestly it will be a nice surprise!)
Now it took some persuasion. And I mean lots and lots of persuasion to acquire the alpaca that I have been lusting after since the BAS National Show. Even as I set off on the long journey, I wasn’t sure if said alpaca was going to be amongst those for selection. Nor was the breeder. There was much deliberation to be had. Who is this female and why is she the one?
Her name is Bozedown Bravo, a light fawn female who was placed 1st in her class at the National Show. Apart from the fact that phenotypically she presents herself so well, on a very good frame, and with a fabulously uniform, dense, fine fleece (first fleece: MFD: 14.9 SD 3.2 CV 21.2 CF 100%), it is the genetics which makes her extra special to us. Her sire is Bozedown Comet 11 (now deceased) whose progeny have proven themselves to be a perfect match with Explorer (it is this cross that created By Design amongst others) and I have previously admired the progeny from her dam’s line. Bravo will be paired with First Edition (Eddie an Explorer son whom we know does colour). We are very grateful to Mary-Jo for agreeing to release such a special female, and promise to do our best to do her proud with our breeding.
Of course who goes to buy a female and isn’t tempted by more? Well, it would have been unfair not to find a white female for Explorer. Again the decision was based on genetic research, as well as phenotype. This line has proven to cross well with Bozedown North Star, who is also an Ep Cambridge Navigator son (as is Explorer). So it is Bozedown Save The Last Dance (sire; Bozedown Tonto) who will be taking to the dance floor with Beck Brow Explorer next year. Also coming to join our herd will be Bozedown Edge of Glory (sire Bozedown Rembrandt) and Bozedown Chaos (Bozedown Neo) both beige. Four top-notch unrelated females for Explorer and Eddie.
The week in Ambleside with the girls was an absolute hoot. Walking, fine dining, cinema and a murder mystery night…oh and a glass or two.
We followed this up with a get-together weekend at Beck Brow a couple of weeks ago…no fine dining or walking…but plenty of food, alcohol, and playing of games. Next holiday already booked!
We are looking forward to the border opening between Australia and New Zealand (we hope). Ambersun Spinners Gold (our young fawn male) has passed screening in Australia and should be ready for work in the summer. Thanks to Natasha (Kurrawa Alpacas) for the photo of his fleece on the shearing table…
Happy Christmas Everyone…wishing you all a prosperous 2019!