who we are
imports & exports
learn with us
studs for sale
Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.
They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines
in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA and also through articles on this website
and other websites.
Click here for more articles
A Passion for
The ‘Agony and Ecstasy’ of the Novice in the show ring
By Steve Lewis, Algoma Alpacas
Arriving from the United Kingdom in 2003, the Lewis family were determined to do
things differently. After a couple of false starts they arrived on the South
Island, settled in Ashburton, on a 1 hectare section, and so the story begins.
watched the grass grow for a while and then took the plunge, buying two wether
alpacas (neutered males) as the start of our herd, which soon grew to number
four. At the 2006 EXPO in Christchurch, we saw some magnificent specimens and
met interesting breeders. Vicki Tribe, Gear Girl, chatted as we bought ‘the
book’ saying “I’ll see you in the show ring soon” – and we laughed.
than 18 months Vicki was proved right. We’d bought a breeding package, pregnant
mother with cria at foot in January 2008, from Southern Alpacas Stud, and by the
springtime shows we were raring to go.
didn’t know was that we were on a bitter sweet journey of discovery with a
number of important lessons to learn.
Beginning Showing Alpacas
first show was the National in Christchurch. What a way to start! I had one
female huacaya to show. But where did I go to register her? Where did I get one
of those arm bands everyone was wearing? What would happen in the ring? I had so
Lesson one, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’. Friendly folk
provided the answers. Everyone went out of their way to help.
time arrived for my class to be shown. I was the proud presenter of my Junior
Female who was outstanding – I knew! She was wonderfully controlled - clearly
the best in the ring. My second lesson was imminent, ‘Pride comes before a
judges ‘called us forward’. The significance of this passed me by since I had
never experienced the show ring at first hand. Little did I realise at the time
that my alpaca was now ranked in the top eight in the country for her age and
was building. My first ribbon was in the bag! But no, not a thing.
Alpaca Folk closest to us worked hard to stop us from becoming down-hearted. The
temptation not to continue showing was great, but hey, we’d already paid the
entry fees so why not keep going?
home was a sad event. Our boys and their young friend Joseph, couldn’t believe
the events of the day. Joseph seemed more upset than we were ourselves – how
could it be that our beautiful alpaca hadn’t been recognised? We passed
Russell’s place, Homestead Farm and explained to Joseph that out of all those
many animals Russell had chosen some to show – we only had one. A salutary
shows were followed in quick succession. At Ellesmere Show she managed sixth
place. We were on our way to learning lesson 3, ‘Each Judge sees things
doubting the ‘whole show ring’ thing, the next show was unmissable - our home
town of Ashburton. We just had to try this one as we had entered the children in
the child handling class. We could not have foreseen the next chapter as we
proceeded to win our class!
Thankfully kind Alpaca Folk explained to us we needed to go back into the ring –
we weren’t sure what for. But we soon learnt that all the first placed young
girls were being called back into the ring, for the judge to choose Champion and
Reserve Champions. Amazingly, we went on to take the Reserve Champion title!
Child Handler and Sires
Could the day get any better? Unbelievably yes, as Gregory, our six year old,
came second in his child handler class and Callum, aged 12, came fourth.
Entering the children brought a whole new experience to going to an A & P show
to us as a family. The boys were enthralled by the ‘taking part’ and seem to get
bitten by the ‘showing’ bug.
just as we were about to leave the grounds with a good old southerly wind
encouraging us home, Nic from Southern Alpacas, ran after us – could we take our
girl back in the ring with one of his boys? Um, okay, but whatever for? “Sires
progeny” was the answer. What’s that you may well ask? Nic’s boy was a son of
Brutus and our girl was a Brutus daughter. The class was around making a
judgement about the stud’s offspring (progeny). It was a worthwhile trip into
the ring; between us we came third. What a day it had turned out to be!
Owning Alpacas has brought a whole new meaning to our lives. Alpaca folk may be
competitors in the ring, but are supportive friends outside of it. Our thanks go
to Nic and Linda of Southern Alpacas and Russell of Homestead Farm, for keeping
us focused. We extend our unending gratitude to the wonderful Brendon, Jay and
Brenna of Waikara Park Alpacas who nurtured not only our show girl but us as
well – with their time, knowledge and practical help in boarding and
transporting our girl to the shows.
Folk are truly wonderful – almost as much as the animals themselves! Take the
plunge – buy some Alpaca and join a group of people who will restore your faith
Postscript – So, what next?
seduction of success in the ring would not blind us to the more important
commitment to breeding a high quality animal for fibre. We are looking closely
at our Return on Investment Strategy and determined to enjoy the show but keep
our feet firmly on the ground, remembering all the lessons learnt.
had indeed proved to be a year of ‘agony and ecstasy’.
Steve Lewis is,
on his own admission, a novice in the alpaca world.
to make a significant lifestyle change after 14 years as a successful secondary
school principal, he is enjoying the discovery of raising alpaca involving his
family in the venture.
He is looking
for quality not quantity in his herd management, with a view to raising the
profile of the industry whilst contributing to improve the breed.
Updated July 2009