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Carlisle to Host First North West Alpaca Championship Show

This April, leading livestock auctioneers Harrison and Hetherington will host the North West Alpaca Championships on Saturday 6th April at the Borderway Exhibition Centre in Carlisle.

This is a major milestone for the industry, as it is the first British Alpaca Society Championship Show to be held in the North West. The decision to hold the event in April, taken specifically to allow breeders to show their animals when their spring fleeces are at their most impressive.

Barbara Hetherington and Anzac Almost Illegal

Barbara Hetherington and Anzac Almost Illegal

The Alpaca industry in the UK has developed enormously in recent years reflected in both the quality of the animals and the prices they command in the ring; average prices of £8000 per animal are not uncommon. Harrison and Hetherington have been instrumental in driving the industry forward and are delighted to be hosting this inaugural event organised by three of the UK’s leading breeders Beck Brow Alpacas, Cockerham Apacas and Greenside Alpacas.

Barbara Hetherington from Beck Brow Alpacas explains the reason for the Spring show: “Most Alpaca shows in the North of England take place in the summer as part of the agricultural show season but this means that fleeces are too long because shearing is overdue or too short because they have already been shorn. We therefore took the decision to hold at stand alone show at the time of year when alpaca fleece is at its best and as spring is the optimum time for showing we are expecting entries from throughout the UK.”

The event will include a Halter Show for both the main breeds of alpaca, the fluffy Huacaya and the rarer Suri with their longer, shiny coats. They will be judged by the internationally respected BAS judge Tim Hey whose passion for the industry is evident in his lively commentary and whose opinions are always of interest to alpaca breeders and non-breeders alike.

The event is designed not just as a show but also as an industry forum, during the day there will also be a Fleece and Fibre Display with local alpaca products available for sale, a large variety of trade stands and plenty of opportunities to meet the alpacas and chat to the breeders.

Since the first major imports of alpacas from their native South America in the early 1990s the industry has grown steadily. Harrison and Hetherington has been at the forefront of promoting this relatively new livestock trend and has already hosted several sales including first ever Alpaca Classic Elite Auction and the first dedicated Scottish alpaca auction.

Pedigree Sales and Marketing Manager, Heather Pritchard said, “The growth in the UK Alpaca market and the development of lifestyle and hobby farming on small holdings means this market is developing quickly. Breeders are working hard to produce high quality animals and to pass on their knowledge to others and we are delighted to welcome this important event to Carlisle.”

The British Alpaca Society (BAS) is dedicated to the welfare of alpacas providing information and events for alpaca owners and breeders and maintaining the pedigree register for the national herd. The three main organisers of the show, who illustrate the diversity of alpaca owners, are all BAS members and delighted to be involved.

Cumbrian based alpaca breeders, Barbara and Paul Hetherington began the Brow Beck herd on their 50 acre farm in 2008. After just four years they have produced a friendly, well handled prize winning herd which includes multiple supreme champion male Beck Brow Explorer. Also in Cumbria, Cockerham Alpacas are based on a small family-run smallholding on the edge of the Trough of Bowland. The herd was started in 2004 after these animals made a huge impression on owners Michael & Judith Henderson at the Highland Show. From just 4 alpacas in 2002, Greenside Alpacas near Kirkby Lonsdale is now a herd of 100. Owners, Mary Tolit and Mike Griffith specialise in breeding Suris in a range of beautiful colours.

All three are devoted to breeding high quality alpacas and promoting the industry as a whole. They are looking forward not only to showing their animals but to talking to the many visitors across the UK expected to attend.

The North West Alpaca Championships will be held on April 6th – the closing date for entries is 6th March.

NWAG Alpaca Championships

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