Monday, September 28, 2015

Soapbox time–light fawns

Non-alpaca readers, please feel free to move along, nothing to see here...

Time to be a bit controversial, pull out the soapbox and have a bit of a rant.

Caveat: Perry's personal opinion - not that of the Association and not necessarily shared by the rest of the tribe - they may agree but they're so sick of hearing me go on that they don't comment...

So, with that warning, let's talk about light-fawn alpacas (I can hear the groans from here...).

Now, we are, primarily, breeders of coloured animals: browns and fawns. We have a few nice blacks and some top whites but mostly, it's about the colours.

I like light-fawn animals, that pale shade with maybe a hint of apricot is very attractive and something that I really like to see in the herd.

I firmly believe that the show ring should reflect that...

Here's what the rules say though:

"An alpaca is to be shown in the appropriate colour class, when it is predominantly that colour. "

No problem there, agree completely, but it's immediately contradicted by:

"Animals with light fawn on the neck or backline should be entered and shown in the light fawn class."

And that's where I part company with the rules. As a result of this our light fawn classes have become a showplace for b-grade whites.

I'm terribly sorry, but if you have an animal with a pristine, snow-white fleece over 98% of its body and a tiny patch of fawn on the back of the neck, then what you have there is a, quite possibly very nice, colour-contaminated white, not a light-fawn.

And yes, I know about 'true-white' phenotypes but the truth is that they are about as common as hens' teeth and the majority of white animals shown in white classes would fail that test. As far as I'm concerned there is a stronger case for creating a new 'off-white' or 'mostly white' class than there is for shunting colour-contaminated animals in with the light fawns.

It's making a mockery of the colour classes, there have been many cases where the same animal is presented as light fawn in the ring and white in the fleece class. The public can't (with good reason) understand what they're seeing at shows and it's about time that we grew out of it and recognised light fawns for the unique class that they are rather than using the classification as a way to hoover up more ribbons for white animals that might not be able to cut it in their own class.

There, rant over. Thank you for humouring me, I feel better now and promise not to mention it again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

And so it begins...

Saturday saw the first shearing job of the season over at Strathalbyn. A gentle start to the year with 41 animals at three farms.

The way it’s looking it seems likely that we’ll clear 2000 head this year for the first time at well over 100 properties in South Australia (and a handful in NSW on the way back from a trip).

I always have mixed feelings about shearing – it’s hard work and it takes us away from the property where there’s so much to do but, on the other hand, there’s no better way to get out and about, meeting owners and seeing a huge range of animals and farming operations.