DEAR ALPACA FRIEND!

We are very pleased to welcome you to the new sites of Unique Alpacas. We are proud to be starting our breeding work with very fine animals from Chile. They arrived to Finland by mid September of 2004 and we were really excited to finally get them home.

Our breeding goals are set fairly high from the very start: we want to breed true-to-type, pure-bred huacaya alpacas in rich uniform colours and correct conformation along with the finest and densest of fleece. Surely not easily done but when starting off with good genetics it should by no means be impossible. The secret is not in the quantity but in quality, we believe.

In April 2004, we visited the beautiful Chilean countryside to choose our future breeding stock. We were able to witness how professional ARI screeners inspected a total of 108 wonderful animals of which 99 % passed with flying colours. Even the screeners were amazed by the uniform structure and phenotype of the alpacas and were particularly surprised by the incredible fibre that almost all inspected alpacas had! After the screening was completed, we were able to hand-pick the animals we wanted and this enabled us to choose a unique palette of colours for our long awaited alpacas. Our new friends are registered in the German AZVD registry, DNA tested, microchipped, screened and also their fibres are tested. The whole week in Chile was a once-in-a-lifetime intensive course in alpaca breeding and certainly an experience never to forget.

Unique Coma Cobriza     

 

In February 2004, together with Mrs Sanna Hurttia-Lintula, we also participated a one-day alpaca course at Syke House in Cumbria, England, where the international show judge and breeder Amanda Vandenbosch (Flying Dutchman Alpacas, USA) taught us to recognize the correct alpaca phenotype and fibre. We made great new friends during our weekend trip and enjoyed Mrs Pat Bentley’s hospitality a lot, spiced with really inspiring discussions with other enthusiasts. To make the training trip simply perfect, we also had the opportunity to meet some professional and esteemed breeders like Mr Mike Coghlan of Blenheim Alpacas in Oxfordshire (who is also a judge) as well as David and Annabel Barnett of Purston Alpacas in Brackley. Thank you all for your wonderful care and kindness during our visit, we will be sure to stay in touch!

In March 2006, we took part in the BAS judge training course (level 1) held at the Alpaca Training Centre at Langaton Farm in Devon. The course was lots of fun but also extremely useful, with Nick Harrington-Smith and Liz Barlow as teachers. We learned immensely and also made some new friends along the way. All in all, this was a great experience for us: driving through the beautiful English countryside, staying in a 16th century farmhouse and being able to talk "alpaca" for many days in a row. Thanks to everyone who made our stay a truly unforgettable weekend!

In November 2006, we continued to source for deeper knowledge in alpacas by attending the judge training course (level 2) at Langaton and in June 2007 we found out that we passed the course with a recommendation to continue to the final level 3. This course was certainly much more demanding, particularly for a non-native English speaker, as we were required to place alpacas within many groups and give oral reasons on their qualities and our placements. In addition, we dove into heaps of different kinds of fleeces in order to learn to grade them. The teachers (Nick Harrington-Smith, Val Fullerlove and Amanda Vandenbosch) did not let us off easily, thanks a million for that!

There is a new association for alpaca breeders: Alpaca Breeders of Finland. It will organize training and other events on a regular basis to help local breeders network, as well as learn more about alpacas and their care. The association will also provide a marketing tool for all its members. With some of the members, we organized a trip in May 2007 to see Europe's largest alpaca show, the BAS Nationals in Newark. We had a wonderful opportunity to visit some farms like Bozedown and Livanti Alpacas (below with judge and breeder Liz Barlow) in addition to Farrlacey Alpacas who also run a specialized spinning mill. A warm thanks is extended to our hosts on this wonderfully education but certainly fun trip.

We will surely continue pursuing connections on a regular basis with other alpaca breeders outside Finland and we have already established some relationships to breeders in Sweden, Germany, USA and the UK. For us, this gives an extra flavour to our interest in these magnificent creatures. We are also convinced that keeping up a continuous dialogue outside the Finnish borders and sharing information will inevitably benefit not only us as people but also the alpacas.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have queries, comments or just to say hello!

Anne & Markku

 
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