A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 6, 2010

Fetching the Feed

Monday I had to make a flying visit to Albuquerque to pick up a load of feed.  It’s about a four hour drive from our house to the feed mill, a drive that might seem excessive to some, but when it comes to getting good quality, fresh feed the drive is worth making.

Our feed is milled by Onate Mills using a pre-mix supplied to them by Dr. Norm Evans.  Dr. Evans is one of the top authorities on alpaca nutrition in the United States and has formulated feed to suit the different nutritional needs of alpacas in different states.  While some might think that one generic feed would be sufficient for all the alpacas in the US that is not the case.  Differing mineral soil content, varying amounts of sunlight, weather conditions and differing water qualities are just a few of the factors that can cause different nutritional requirements in alpacas across the US.

We could purchase the feed under a different brand name from a closer store, but that brand sells the feed in 40 lb bags instead of the 50 lb. bags we get from Onate and the price on the other brand is quite a bit higher.  When you are feeding 60 plus alpacas every day a difference of 10 lb. per bag and a couple of dollars per bag soon adds up.  So when all the factors are taken into consideration it is worth our time to drive to the mill in Albuquerque to pick up feed.  We also know that the feed is fresh as the mill manager can tell us when the feed was milled.  This last load was actually milled on Saturday – pretty fresh feed!

Fortunately my drive was uneventful, with some good CD’s to listen to and some snacks for the trip I was able to sit back and enjoy the New Mexico scenery.  Ric was able to take care of chores for the day and so I was able to get a reasonably early start and was back home before dark – perfect.

With alpacas being a fiber producing animal to us it is of the utmost importance that their nutrition is the best that we can give them.  Over the years we have seen how much difference good nutrition makes not only to the alpacas fleeces but also to their overall health – we are what we eat and that phrase most definitely applies to alpacas too.

Rosemary

August 6, 2009

It’s Almost Showtime Again

 

With summer rushing past us it will soon be time for the fall show season. For New Mexico that means the New Mexico State Fair that features an alpaca show as part of the activities.

 

We always try to attend the New Mexico State Fair as it is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, making it our closest show.

 

It is a pity that the show always happens in the last few weeks of summer as that is the time that many New Mexico alpaca breeders have crias due, making it difficult to leave their farms. Depending on when the farm’s alpacas were shorn it may also mean that their alpacas do not have enough fleece length to qualify for the halter classes (where both fleece and conformation are judged). There are shorn classes available but most alpaca breeders prefer their alpacas to compete in the halter classes.

 

This year for us the show will be a little different as Ric is the Show Superintendent. As the Show Superintendent Ric will be responsible for verifying all of the entries, building the classes and ensuring that the show program is changed as necessary. Ric’s work will keep him busy during the show, the night before the show will be particularly busy and I am sure Ric will be working long into the night to ensure that the class list is correct and printed off for the exhibitors before the show begins.

 

The New Mexico State Fair is a small show compared to other shows where Ric has been the Show Superintendent, so I am sure it will not be too much of a challenge to him, however he is having to work within the mechanism of the State Fair and so there will be some differences in how things are handled.

 

Due to a problem with the State Fair website last weekend, the State Fair had agreed to extend the deadline for Online Entries for the New Mexico State Fair through Sunday, August 9 so if you were thinking of entering the alpaca show at the State Fair you still have time to enter. Just go to the New Mexico Alpaca Breeders website and follow the links to the State Fair (or Expo New Mexico as it is now called!).

 

Ric and I are still trying to decide if we will enter alpacas into the show. When Ric is the Show Superintendent at a show we have to be careful that we don’t cross any ethical boundaries. Usually if we do enter alpacas at a show where Ric is the show superintendent then we have someone else take the alpacas into the show ring for us. Of course we also have to consider who will look after the farm if we both go to the show, but we better hurry up and make our minds up before the extended Show Entry Deadline expires!

 

Rosemary

March 5, 2009

Gathering Up The Feed

The last couple of days have been busy with feed related tasks.  On Tuesday Ric and I made the 3 ½ hour drive to Albuquerque to pick up alpaca pellets and then of course had to make the 3 ½ hour drive back again!  It was a beautiful warm, sunny day, great driving weather but that is a long drive.

 

Why drive so far for feed you may ask.  Well, there isn’t a local or nearer distributor for the feed we use so we really don’t have an option.  Our feed is milled at Onate Feeds in Albuquerque to a formula put together for this area by Dr. Norm Evans, DVM.  Dr. Evans is a highly respected camelid veterinarian who has formulated feeds especially for alpacas and llamas.  We could use a different brand, and have tried different brands in the past, but have achieved the best results for our herd using the Dr. Evans feed. 

 

Having made the drive to Albuquerque and back it was then time to clean out the feed barn and unload and stack the new feed.  We always stack our feed on a pallet to allow air to circulate underneath the feed, which hopefully will help keep the feed fresh.

 

The next feed related trip was to get a sample of hay for the alpacas to try.  The alpacas beloved Tiffany Teff hay is now out of supply until August, we have one bale left and so wanted to source some more hay that would compliment the wheat hay we are also feeding.  We found some Bermuda grass hay available in town and for once the grower had an analysis on his hay – progress!  Very few of our local growers provide analysis on their hay meaning we usually have that test done at our cost, but this grower had an analysis on both cuttings of his hay.  It is always important to analyze the hay that you are looking to purchase so that you can know what you are feeding.  Hay can look good and smell good, but without that analysis you really cannot tell the nutritional value of the hay.  But along with the analysis you also need to do a taste test on the hay.  Take a sample and let the alpacas try it, for it is no good spending your hay budget on a load of hay only to find the alpacas will not eat it.  That would be a costly mistake.

 

This hay passed both the analysis test and the taste test, granted the alpacas were not quite as enthused over this hay as they were with the Tiffany Teff hay, but they did eat it and over time will adjust to the different taste of it. 

 

So all that feed activity took care of two days of the week, but is was to a good cause.  To us correct alpaca nutrition is extremely important, it helps keep the alpacas healthy, it provides the nutrients that enable our alpacas to grow beautiful, healthy fleeces and it keeps the alpacas content and happy.

 

Rosemary

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