Alpacas you can wear steal show

By Geoff Lee

October 19, 2017 10:12 AM

One of the first alpaca producers in Canada was Margaret Brewster, right, from Bowden Alberta. It’s becoming a three-generation venture with her grandaughters, left, Sydney and Lily Van Ginoven, and her daughter Kelly Brewster who brought some Huacaya alpacas to the Lloydminster Alpaca Showcase at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds Oct. 13-15. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

When you think of alpacas, think warm socks and mittens, as the animals are raised primarily for their fleece to produce toasty winter clothing.
The Lloydminster Alpaca Showcase held at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds Oct. 13-15 included a fleece and halter show for producers across Western Canada, along with some fleece wear to show off the end product.
“It shows people the production animals that are available to breed, produce and market in our community and across Canada,” said Debbie Bruynooghe, one of the organizers and producers.
About 100 animals, mostly Huacayas and some Suris registered for the show from yearlings, two year olds to mature animals.
In the halter event, they are divided in the show ring competition by male and female and colour in addition to age.
“The purpose would be to showcase your breeding program to show how far you’ve advanced your breeding program,” said Bruynooghe.
She said it gives producers like her a benchmark to measure their success of their breeding programs.
Bruynooghe and her daughter raise a herd of about 40 Huacayas at their Spellbound Alpaca farm in North Battleford and ribboned in two classes in early morning competition on Saturday.
“I have taken supreme grand champion is past shows,” she said.
Bruynooghe said he got hooked on alpacas after she and her husband saw them at an Agribition show in Regina 11 years ago.
‘I absolutely feel in love and was totally spellbound which is why my farm is Spellbound Alpacas,” she said with a laugh.
Among the attendees at alpaca showcase was Margaret Brewster from Bowden Alberta who was one of the first alpaca breeders in Canada back in 1980.
“I liked alpacas and I raised llamas before, but the alpacas seemed to be a new thing and we got into it,” she said noting it’s becoming a three generational venture carried on by her daughter Kelly with budding interest from her granddaughters Sydney and Lily.
“Lily and Sydney really have the bug; it’s nice to see them in the show ring just enjoying them,” said Brewster.
“Sydney showed and she got a first in her class; it’s good.”
The event included overall yearling champions for males and female winners across all classes with all judging done by Diana Timmerman from Colorado.
The show kicked off on Friday with judged fleece samples from alpaca farms with 92 entries of huacaya and suri fleece shorn last spring at farms from B.C. to Ontario.
“The judge made comments that she was very impressed with the quality of the fleeces she saw — really good fineness, really beautiful brightness and soft handling fleeces,” said Lloydminster’s Cathy Merkley, one of the lead organizers.
“She was really impressed with how high the scores were when she was done judging.”
Alpaca fleece comes in 22 different colours with white at the top of the value chain as it can be dyed in any colour that’s in fashion.
Suri fibre fetches a higher price on the market than Huacaya fibre.
Merkley was decked out in an alpaca neck warmer and sweater as a value-added alpaca producer at TnC Farms in Lloydminster that she runs with Trudy McCall.
“We raise the alpacas and we sell them as breeding stock, but we shear the alpacas, collect the fibre and then we have another company that purchases fibre and we sort and class that fibre and send it out for processing,” she explained.
TnC wholesales fibre through their Alpaca Naturally entity and sells hand made clothing at their Alpaca Loft Fibre Studio at the farm.

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