The Natural Alpaca Fiber Winners 2011

What a treat for the eyes and imagination! Take a look at the photos of the winners of this years Natural Fiber Showcase in the International Camelid Quarterly.

From over 150 entries and 7,000 votes by the general public, the winning entries in the Fashion, Art & Utility categories are featured. Each beautiful photo also includes an explanation by the artist of the techniques they used to create the product.

I got some good ideas of what I could do with some of my fiber… How about you?

Click the following link and enjoy the beautiful, creative items made with natural alpaca fiber.  Natural Fiber Product Showcase winners.

Ten Tips to Happy Alpacas

Alpacas can adapt to the heat of our summer days as long as they have cooler nights to recover. When nighttime temperatures stay in the upper eighties, this tends to create an accumulated effect and gives reason to take special precautions to avoid heat stress.

Alpacas Love Water

Another point to keep in mind pertains to high humidity when coupled with high temperatures. When you combine the temperature and the percentage of humidity you get a “heat index value.” A value over 120 degrees can be extremely stressful and gives grounds for taking additional safety measures.

For happy alpacas keep these ten tips in mind.

1)    Always shear your alpacas as a first line of defense in hot weather. We set up our shearing day with our shearer a year in advance and make a fun event out of the day. If you only have a few alpacas, then consider joining your herd with another established herd. Many alpaca farms set-up cooperative shearing days with other local farms.

2)    Always provide plenty of cool water to drink throughout the day. We put extra water buckets out along the fence line in the shade during the hottest months of the summer. Keep them full of fresh water and remove the algae which may grow in the buckets. If you use automatic waterers be sure to keep them free of accumulated “gunk!”

3)    Always provide a shady area for them to rest. Even though they may choose to lie in the full sun and “sunbathe” they will move into the shade to cool off part of the day. Keep some of their food source in the shade as well if you can.

4)    Provide a large industrialized fan & misters in the areas where they congregate when the temperatures rise. If you have a swamp cooler, you may notice how they cush right in front of the cool air source.

5)    Provide free choice mineral salts in small feeders around the hay source. We use Stillwater Minerals brand of the Lama-Min 104. This is specially formulated for alpacas. www.StillwaterMinerals.com

6)    Discuss with your vet or other breeders the type of electrolytes to add to their water source. We use a “Cherry” flavored powder that we add to every-other water bucket. That way they can self choose if they wish to drink it or not. Some people mix a Gatorade Powder with water to a strength of ¼ the recommended amount on the label. Be sure to mix a fresh batch every day as it spoils quickly.

7)    Do not breed your males in the heat of the day, they could become overheated and go temporarily sterile. If you choose to breed during the summer months, then breed early or later in the day.

8)    If you have new born cria, be sure to monitor the cria’s nursing behavior.  They can easily become dehydrated during the warmest part of the day. Observe how often they nurse and get underneath their mom. The rule of thumb is every hour to two is normal. Every half-hour is suspect for poor milk production and every 10 – 15 minutes means there is probably something wrong and you need to intervene to determine how serious. As the cria gets older, they will start to eat hay and may be nursing less often. Just observe the routine and check out anything that appears unusual.

9)    Provide extra hosing of their legs & bellies with cool water. My girls come running to my hose when I announce “Shower time Girls”… shower time!” Just keep the water accumulation off their backs where it could create an increased humid condition and raise their heat stress level.

10)    If you must transport or keep the alpacas in an enclosed area, be sure to provide air circulation. Some transporters run air conditioned units in the big trailers, others just have open windows.

So in conclusion, I hope these tips helped you think about the ways you can keep your alpacas comfortable during the hottest part of the summer day. Please feel free to share these tips with your fellow alpaca breeders. I also invite you to post your tips to the comment section of our:  www.ProfitingWithAlpacas.com

Here’s to you and your alpacas enjoying a wonderful summer.

Alpaca Sock Brigade

Every year many of us alpaca breeders think about our alpacas and their connection to our troops in harms way. As we stay warm indoors celebrating the Holidays with our friends, family & other loved ones…. let’s remember those who are not so warm. They are the soldiers that are serving and freezing outdoors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What started as a simple request from a soldier in the fall of 2007 to his parents, Randy & Barbara Coleman, from Wings & A Prayer Alpacas, for a care package of warm alpaca socks for the cold winter months in Iraq, has turned into a major all out “SockBrigade”.

This year (2010) Lamb Chop and Sherry Lewis’s granddaughter Mallory have teamed up with the non profit organization, The BentStar Project LTD, to spread the word on the need for support to our troops. As Lamb Chop so eloquently puts it… “Help keep our soldier’s feetsies warm by donating to the SockBrigade!”

We love all these alpaca socks - Thanks America

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS:

Alpaca Sock Brigade!

By Barbara Coleman

“Got any special requests for your next care package?,” I asked. Who would have ever thought that a simple question to our son in Iraq would end up touching so many lives? This was the birth of what has come to be known as the “Alpaca Sock Brigade.”

Our son, Army Sergeant Micheal L. Coleman, stationed at Fort Lewis, WA had been in Iraq since June 26, 2006 and, specifically, in Baghdad since November. His request on that January day was very simple – alpaca socks! Since we began raising alpacas in 1998, Mike has known the value of a pair of alpaca socks in freezing temperatures. He is with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (abbreviated “5-20IR”), and they spend a lot of time on their feet, patrolling the streets of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

Couple nighttime temps of 20 degrees with wind-chill factor when riding in open vehicles, and Army-issue socks just “don’t cut it!” I should point out Mike didn’t just ask for alpaca socks for himself – not this kid; he’s always looking out for someone else! He said, “Everyone complains about his feet freezing all the time.” He asked if we could talk to some of our “alpaca friends” and see if they…. [MORE]

Please read the whole story published in the AOBA 2008 winter issue… 
To Donate, click here:  http://www.bentstarproject.org/SockBrigade.html

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