First I saw an ad for 3 free female alpacas in a nearby town (I actually know the farm). A few days later I found another ad for free pet/fiber quality male alpacas (I know this farm too). I would love to have more alpacas... As much as I prefer llamas to alpacas, alpacas produce so much more fiber (at least on average). I do eventually plan to get 2-3 more alpacas to raise for fiber, but I managed to talk myself out of considering adding more right now.
|My first 3 fiber alpacas. Unfortunately the two white ones were fairly brainless so they were sold after a couple of years.|
The third temptation was the LFA sale this past weekend. For the first time in years, I really wasn't super interested in any of the llamas in the regular sale, but there was a male in the claims futurity that I would have loved to bring home! He is a gorgeous paint, half Argentine, with multiple halter and fleece winnings. Just what I'm looking for! Again, lucky for me I have ABSOLUTELY no business buying a breeding male right now. I just don't have room.
These temptations, especially the LFA sale (and also seeing tons of pictures from the ILR Gathering show the same weekend), have really given me the bug to start a breeding herd again. I want nothing more than to be able to get back into breeding and selling (and showing!) llamas!
My goal for my breeding herd in the past was always to breed the all-around llama...personality (and training), conformation, and fiber. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I've done pretty well. (I guess this is a good time to mention that Kara (Autumn Hill's Karakoram) was entered in her first 2 shorn fleece classes in the past 2 weeks, and she won a Grand Champion Double Coat (The Fiber Frenzy) and a Reserve Grand Champion Double Coat (ILR Gathering)!! So proud of my girl, and my breeding program!)
|Kara's fleece from last year, right before shearing.|
When I start a breeding herd again, that is still going to be my focus. I don't expect to have performance champions (though I have raised one!), but I want my babies to have a handleable personality, so with extensive training they could be! I'd love to have halter champions (and have raised several who have gotten champions in halter, one even got enough to be an ALSA Halter Champion!). And of course I want fine, single coat fleece, but this one I'm going to step up a notch. I'm sick of having beautiful fleeces, but only getting 1 pound of prime fleece per animal! As a fiber farm, animals need to produce more fleece to make it profitable. I also happen to love thick bone structure in a llama, so my plan is to introduce some Argentine bloodlines into my herd in the future. Argentines have extremely dense fiber, capable of producing 5+ pounds of prime fleece (and often are single coat). Adding thick bones would just be a plus!
|The pride and joy of my breeding program, Autumn Hill's Khatadyn. He finished his ALSA Halter Champion!|
|Autumn Hill's Charity, multiple fleece and youth performance champion.|
|Autumn Hill's Rainier, winner of multiple fiber and halter champions and some great performance placings too! He's also Kara's full brother.|
I really can't afford to get several full Argentine llamas (even in the future), so my plan is to get an Argentine male and a couple heavy wool North American females (and maybe even a heavy wool NA male too). I've heard that Argentines can increase fiber on their crias in just one generation (even 25% Argentine llamas can have thicker fiber), so I think that might be the way to start and make it more reasonable.
I fully intend on Kara being one of my cornerstone females in a future breeding program. She has interesting bloodlines, and represents 2 of my favorite llamas from my past breeding program. She hasn't been in the halter ring in almost 2 years (!), but she did very well at her first 2 shows as a juvenile. I'm really hoping she will impress the judges when she gets back in the ring this fall. And of course her recent fleece placings are very encouraging.
|A terrible picture of Kara.|
I also have high hopes for another representative of my former breeding program, and it hasn't even been conceived yet! I'm not sure I've announced this here yet, but I'm getting a baby llama in 1.5-2 years! I've regretted selling May (Little May Flowers) since the day she left our farm almost 8 years ago, and I finally decided to do something about it. I'm going to "rent" May for the next year...any day now she will be bred to a gorgeous ALSA Halter Champion male, and hopefully have a fabulous baby in about a year. Once the baby is weaned, I will bring him/her out to my farm in NY. I'm really excited to have a relative of April (Alder Crest April Showers) in my breeding herd again, and I think the dad will add some great traits to the cria (one of his crias was an ALSA National Champion in halter). Needless to say I hope the baby is a girl, but a male would actually be okay since it will be completely unrelated to Kara.
|May definitely has a lot of great traits to pass on to a cria.|
|Who wouldn't want a cria related to this beautiful girl (April)??|
|Autumn Hill's Blazing Starr, May's first cria and one of my best production to date.|
Unfortunately, even though I have all this completely planned out (I even know what farms I'm going to "shop" at!), I don't think it will be happening any time soon. My barn is just not set up for a larger herd, so it all will have to wait until we either move or build a new barn. I'm definitely itching to get started though!
|Definitely my best group of crias ever!|