I was asked to give a paper at the New Zealand Alpaca Conference in July on Environmental Management Systems in the Alpaca Industry. This paper is available in the Research section of the website. In addition to a great response to my paper, the conference provided some interesting information from the range of other speakers. It was particularly illuminating to listen to papers from experts in other industries, such as sheep, deer and cattle.
The highlight of the conference, however, was the display of exquisite suri fabric by the Gardners of Thistledown Alpacas. In co-operation with Julienne Gelber of Bumble Hill Alpacas in Australia, the long process of getting suri processed has come to fruition and the results are mind blowing. The quality of the fabric, particularly the fine men’s suiting was outstanding, and has renewed my enthusiasm for this magnificent fibre. To think that in the early days people used to say about suris: ‘they look nice, but you can’t do anything with the fibre”!
The plan is to have a NZ designer manufacture some garments from the fabric. I would like to see Australia’s Governor General, who is the epitome of good taste and elegance, in a suit from this suri fabric! It would also be great for all suri breeders to have the opportunity to purchase a sampler of these fabrics, to allow us to show others what the suri is all about.
For myself, I have returned home to review my white suri herd with the aim of producing ultra fine fleece of the correct length each year. This will mean Spring and Autumn shearing and selective breeding for fleece quality only. Breeding for the show ring is, in my opinion, not conducive to this aim, and even in the fleece classes, the fine, soft and consistent fleeces are not rewarded in the judging. This is something we will have to continue to work on.