Time to show your alpaca

Alpaca show and alpaca judging

Time to show your alpaca

Back when I was about 8 years old, I remember being asked by a family friend if I would walk one of their sheep at a show.

As any child of that age would be, I was thrilled to be asked. I proudly wore a white coat and with my head held high, did the best I could.

Thankfully the sheep, known only as “Number 99”, knew what to do. If anything I was the one being led around the show ring. I recall we won something, but it was the experience that was the real prize for me.

Showing alpaca has helped me relive that moment and I would encourage anyone with alpaca to give it a try.

In this article I want to help those who are considering showing their alpaca for the first time.

I would like to thank Sarah Busby from Gilt Edge Alpacas for the wonderful photos of her prize winning alpacas and allowing me to use them in this article.

What to expect at an alpaca show

Alpaca being judged

An alpaca show is typically held alongside other events at a major agricultural show, including showing of other breeds. They make for a great family day out and ahead of deciding if alpaca showing is for you, you may wish to attend a local event and see it for yourself. You’ll get the opportunity to talk to other breeders, watch the showing and judging process and if you’ve not purchased your own alpaca yet, you may find a breeder who you’d like to work with.

However if you really want to experience the joy of showing and having your alpaca judged, you’ll want to participate.

5 top tips for showing alpaca

  1. Expert advice from a professional judge is invaluable. We all think the world of our alpaca, but having unbiased feedback can help us plan ahead as we prepare a breeding programme. The judge, who will have seen countless animals over their career, will give a thorough appraisal as they evaluate your alpaca. Be sure to listen carefully as their report may be something you’d like to record in your health record and either act on, or use to promote your animal.
  2. You’ll get to see the best of the best in one location. If you are looking to increase your herd size through stud services or acquiring new and higher quality alpaca, this is the place to find the breeder you would like to work with. Ideally you’ll have your best alpaca with you too, so talk to breeders and ask their advice. Discuss your plans and see what they can do to help you. This is a marketplace of top breeders and you won’t find a more suitable environment to discuss your needs.
  3. Make new friends. Although breeders are all in competition with each other, they are very approachable and enjoy listening and talking about all things alpaca. We’ve made some very good friends through people we have met at shows and we have found the community to be very supportive when we’ve come up against unknown issues. You’ll find you have a far wider group of friends once you start showing your alpaca.
  4. Spend quality time with your alpaca. Back home on the farm, you’ll be interacting with them occasionally when you perform body checks, but these are brief periods of time. Although alpaca don’t typically bond with humans in the way many domesticated animals do, you are familiar in an unfamiliar environment. Give them confidence that they are safe and you’ll find their personality will be more relaxed when you walk them into the ring.
  5. Do it for the enjoyment. Being realistic, I know that we don’t have animals to compete with the very best in our industry. For me, the show is all about the experience, the people, the joy of being around so many beautiful alpaca. A little competitive edge is good, but the day is so much more than the ribbons you take home.