Friday, June 26, 2009

A day out for some of Abravo Alpaca Boys

On a beautiful sunny day in June Abravo Alpacas went for a day out to Laxton Junior School Fete. The day was a great success. Abravo Wizard, Mallaca and little Gatsby proved to be real crowd pullers. Andrew and Frances where busy all day answering the many questions that all the visitors had.
Many of the visitors said how beautiful they were and that they almost did not look real. Off course everyone was surprised at how soft the fleece felt even though they boys had been sheared about a month before.
The wool and felt that Frances brought along which was spun from some of the many coloured alpacas that can be found at Abravo Alpaca's also proved very popular. Again people where amazed at how soft it was; apart from the people that is that are already lucky enough to own a jumper made from alpaca wool.


This is Abravo Elba, Mother of Abravo Invicta, showing that she takes the advice of "5 a day" very seriously.

Most of the Alpacas at Abravo Alpacas love fruit. We regularly give them treets of apples, carrots and bananas. You do have to watch your fingers a bit though because they do get carried away. Incidentially alpacas only have teeth on the lower jaw, the top jaw just has a soft pad or gum.


Nira starts to walk

This is Abravo Nira's first attempts at walking about an hour after being born; not bad. If you are wandering why she is blue under her tummy it is because we spray her navel with an iodine solution to help it dry and heal and to stop infections. Her mother Abravo Carleigh chose a lovely sunny day for her birth.


Abravo Minstrel and Abravo Tybalt

Here is a picture of Abravo Tybalt having a nice feed on the day that he was born. His Mother Abravo Minstrel is proving to be a very good mother eventhough Tybalt is her first cria. We used to call her Aunty Minstrel because when ever other alpacas had crias Minstrel was always there wanting to take care of them so we are delighted that she now has a baby of her own.


Bumper crop of cria.

We had a lovely surprise yesterday when for the first time at Abravo Alpacas we had two beautiful cria born on the same day. Carleigh went into labour first, which was no surprise as we were expecting it eventhough it was not her due date. Her teats had "bagged up" so we new the birth was going to be in the next few days. We had watched her over the garden gate all morning and noticed she was sitting away from the other alpacas and also sitting on her side. We then saw a little nose followed by two feet. At this stage Minstrel started to hum very loudly almost mooing and sitting down and looking very uncomfortable. By the time Carleigh had popped out Nira (Fawn Female) Minstrel was laying down mooing even more loudly. I stroked her head and neck and gave words of comfort. Andrew gently applied pressure and out came Tybalt a grey male with two white socks and a white spot on his neck. We think he is brilliant as all our crias thus far have been solid colours so its quite nice to have one looking a little different.

Both Tybalt and Nira where up on their feet within and hour and suckling. In fact one of our other Cria Timora was very cheeky and had a feed at the same time as Tybalt from his mum Minstrel. Which is very unusual; usually the mums chase away crias that are not their own.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Alpaca Shearing.

May also proved busy because it was the annual shearing time at Abravo Alpacas. There is quite a lot of preparation to do at shearing. One of the most important aspects is to keep the alpacas calm and reduce stress to the minimum.

We herded and penned all the alpacas up the evening before as the fleeces must be dry for shearing and subsequent storing. Availability of all necessary equipment and shearing shed design make the day a success. The area must be clean, swept and free from any contamination which could get into the fleece. The guys that we use are from New Zealand and have a lot of experience in alpaca shearing. Alpacas have to be restrained during shearing as they would struggle and probably end up with nicks and cuts.

It takes approximately five minutes to do each alpaca and while they are restrained it provides an ideal opportunity to trim feet, give innoculations, microchip, check teeth and generally give each alpaca a clean bill of health.

As the fleece is sheared the prime blanket/saddle and neck are bagged separately and weighed. The inferior cuts from the apron, breach, legs and belly are bagged and sorted separately to ensure that when the fleece is processed - spun into fibre only the best quality is used to ensure that wool purchased from Abravo Alpacas is soft and of excellent quality. IF you are interested in purchasing raw fleece, or Abravo Alpaca wool please visit our website for further details (

After the alpacas are sheared they look very different. They have gone from huge fluffy teddy bears to elegant antelopes in five minutes. They spend a lot of time after shearing sniffing each other to re-acquaint themselves, especially cria and mother. However I am sure they all feel so much better after shearing especially on warm days. The fleece soon grows back, in a year we hope to have a length of about 6 inches and a harvest of approximately 3 kilos of fleece.

The fleece is then hand skirted, sorted and graded by Frances before sending off to a mill for processing. Colours and grades are all kept seperate which means there are piles of bags all over the barn as here at Abravo Alpacas we have Alpacas in all shades from whitest whites through to beautiful blacks.

Alpaca Craft Day - Cambridgeshire

  • Frances was busy in May organising probably the first dedicated Alpaca Fleece craft day in the UK to date. The event was held in Houghton in Cambridgeshire and was open to all members of the public and to members of the British Alpaca Society and the Eastern Region Alpaca Group.

    The event started of with a demonstration from Frances on how to expertly and efficiently sort and skirt an Alpaca Fleece. The fleece was a beautiful fleece from Abravo Louie of Abravo Alpacas ( . There then followed demonstrations in:

    Felting using Alpaca fleece
    Machine knitting of Alpaca fleece
    Dying Alpaca fleece using natural dyes
    Hand spinning of Alpaca Fleece.

    The event was very well attended and Frances was very pleased with the positive comments recieved from all those who attended.


Aplaca Fleece - Spinning, Dyeing, Knitting and Felting Day

Frances was very busy in May organising the first ever dedicated Alpaca Fleece Craft Day. The event took place in Houghton in Cambridgeshire. The event was open to all Alpaca Breeders through publication on the British Alpaca Society web page as well as the Eastern Region Alpaca Group of which Frances is the secretary.

Many members of the public also attended especially those interested in knitting and spinning. The day began with a short informal talk about Alpacas and a demonstration of how to skirt an Alpaca fleece. The fleece used was a beautiful fawn fleece from Louie of "Abravo Alpacas" ( There then followed demonstrations, questions and finally opportunities to have a go at:
  • Felting with Alpaca fleece,
  • Spinning with Alpaca Fleece
  • Machine Knitting,
  • Dyeing with Alpaca Fleece.

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended and Frances was pleased because she had some very positive comments on feedback sheets at the end of the afternoon.