Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Alpaca Showing Basics

I was asked to talk about what showing alpacas entails. Until last weekend, I had no clue at all. I learned so much and really enjoyed myself.

The first thing I will say is that it is so much easier than showing horses. Here is why:

1) Bathing them is frowned on, it is bad for the fiber.
2) Grooming them is frowned on, it is bad for the fiber.
3) You don't get marked down for an unruly paca.
4) Transporting them is really easy, you don't have to wrap their legs since they lay down the entire time and they rarely crap/pee in the trailer.
5) The only tack you need is a black paca halter and lead.
6) The handler is supposed to wear a white shirt and black pants with black shoes, although, from what I saw, this isn't exactly enforced.

We did halter classes with Baby Annie and Portfolio. This entails leading them in at a certain angle and walking them down the long line of the ring. The judge guides you to either stand in profile or walk directly forward. The judge will then inspect each paca. First they want to look at teeth, then they feel all over them for their fiber, then they lift the tail and check out their "parts." For NCC, I did not see one paca spit on anyone.

Baby Annie was quite good for the inspection. I wish we would have been able to get a critique of her but the judge only does that for the animals who are in the ribbons. She was in a large class and showing in a color class that really wasn't where she should have been. I really think there should be a way to get a critique of each paca even if they don't pin. There is a rule that a class can't have anymore than 14 entries. Geez, in the hunter world where I have shown, 14 is just a regular sized class. The thing about it is, these animals are pretty much very young, a critique from a judge would be very helpful in knowing how to breed the animal to improve it's young. Oh well, what the hell do I know!

As far as Portfolio, he was showing in the mature beige class. He was quite the Gentleman and was very impressive. He is just so very big and solid. We never did see any paca his size or bigger. Like I said, he caused quite a stir. The judge had issues with his teeth. She said they were quite long. I told her that we had them done recently, she was surprised. I did explain that the poor guy had been somewhat neglected, when we had them done, our vet had to take care of long teeth as well as 3 fighting teeth. He didn't want to do too much at one time. Oh well, I was really proud of him and several people thought he really was the best one out there. She was really lucky he didn't kick the shit out of her when she raised his tail and checked out his package!

There are other types of classes at paca shows:

They judge just fleece that is sent in, as a matter of fact, our guy Artemus' father won a fleece class at the age of 5 over all other age groups at the National show.

They do some performance and showmanship classes that I think are mainly for kids.

Then they do have some production/farm classes which judge the breeding programs of the bigger farms.


  1. Sounds interesting! Lots to learn , but less to do to prep I guess

  2. Two questions, well maybe three if I remember them all.
    What are fighting teeth? All things being equal, is the fiber quality predisposed due to genetics?
    If not, what do you do to enhance fiber quality? Nutrition? Supplements? Keeping them out of the environment?
    Okay, four questions- when do I get my alpaca sweater?

  3. "What the hell do I know?"
    A helluva lot more than I do, about Alpacas. I like the prep. Less is more. EXCELLENT!

    Yeah, get knittin', CCC. Christmas is coming, and it gets bloody cold in (gasp) Toronto...
    So, does spitting ever happen at a show? Is it penalized?
    Four Faults?
    I guess only if the Paca spits.
    The owner would be DQ'ed?

  4. NCC:

    Males have fighting teeth, usually just two and they are on the top. They are used for fighting other males so they can get the nookie. They grow long and are hooked and sharp. Portfolio was somewhat neglected so his had never been cut down. We figure that is what happened to Dakota, the paca that got cut real bad on his leg and got the whole maggot grossness. To top it off, Portfolio had 3 fighting teeth not just 2.

    As far as the fiber, yes, good fiber is something you breed for. It is definitely an inherited trait. That is why I wish we could have gotten a critique on Baby Annie, that way we would know if we need to breed her up to improve her fiber quality. Her mother, Annie, actually won some blue ribbons, so it is a bit confusing, is it Baby's conformation or is it her fiber?

    As far as enhancing the fiber, they are mostly born with good fiber or they aren't. The only supplements they get are some powdered minerals with their feed. Good feed and good hay keeps them healthy. You do not do any type of regular grooming or washing as that messes up the fiber. They have a way of keeping themselves pretty clean. I wish my horses could do that. They don't mind the rain or the cold but they do mind the heat, we had some major fans running most of the summer for them.

    NCC, didn't you say you had some experience with spinning?

    GL, I do not knit, never have, never will. I do want to look into spinning though.

    I am afraid you will have to wait, we don't shear until April, they need their fuzzy wuzzy's for the winter. That is another thing I want to learn, shearing. I am going to watch this spring when they are done to see if it is something I think I can do.

    BTW, there were vendors at the show who had some of the most amazing clothes made from paca fiber. I was literally drooling. I will work on that angle in the future.

  5. GL,

    Pacas wouldn't be penalized for spitting, owner, yea, probably booted from ring!

    I will say, both of my pacas had excellent manners in the ring. I saw some, especially males who were really bad. Portfolio did rear up one time when we were waiting to go in, I pulled him down immediately and advised him that I can and have pulled a horse down from a rear and he most certainly can't compete with that. He minded his manners after that.

  6. Just to brag a bit, Google Magical Farms Alpacas, go to herdsires, click on fawns and then pull up MFI Peruvian Donovan, that is our guy Artemus' sire. Notice that his grandsire Augusto sold for a world record price at auction in 2000, $226,000.00.

  7. I do not know spinning, one of the things on the list to do.

  8. Drat, I thought you had said you had a spinning wheel. Oh well, I do want to look into it. If I could learn to spin the fiber into yarn, that would give me a much better return than just selling the raw fiber.

    I shall put that on my to do list as well.

  9. Weird. I coulda sworn I posted here again.
    danged blogger, I think it ate my comment. It was probably unworthy, anywho.

    Fascinating stuff, CCC.
    Fighting Teeth!
    Who knew??


  10. Very interesting. I must admit, I read "frightening" teeth the first time. lol. As in, he had some frightening teeth that had to be removed.

    Sure sounds like these pacas found a great home with you and Kevin.

    I saw some pacas here in Idaho, laying in the sun. They weren't nearly as pretty as yours.

  11. BH, actually, Portfolio's teeth were a bit frightening until we had them done in August. They had gotten quite long.

    And thank you, I think my pacas are very pretty too and certainly well-fed like everything else around here.

    GL, I was surpised to here about fighting teeth too. Pacas are so cute and sweet looking, it is hard to imagine that they would fight.