Friday, May 15, 2009

How much does the enviroment affect your fleece-Alpaca?

The discussion at the moment is on GIFT which is the latest Fleece Testing Technology, used to be able to identify the genetic Traits for fleece, by taking our the enviromental noise.
We had a very different summer this year.
The last week of January 2009, the heat on this farm, measured 47 C degrees approx. 7 days in a row, and then it accumilated with not only the hottest day in Victoria's record, but, also one of the worst days in Victoria's History.
they now call Feb 7, 2009, Black Saturday, with heat on our farm, on my car temperature guage, reading 52 degrees C as i was drivng through the paddocks, as i was putting in place my Fire action plan.
Little did we know what that day was to bring.
A few may have read my blog the
morning of that fateful day, when like the previous week, i could see the plume of smoke in Bunyip forest.
All of a sudden that plume of smoke was a nightmare to begin.
In realising that some fellow alpaca breeders farms may be in danger of the oncoming fire. I rang a few breeders up, two the fire was very close, and within approx 2.5 hours, approx 100 alpacas, were moved to our farm, considered the safest but we hd enough land to support the group of alpacas until danger was over.
Little did we know that this took over a month before finally a large rain storm diminished the fire to finally be no longer a danger to anyone.
Just recently, one of the breeders whose alpacas were moved to our farm, by co incidence only took some fleece samples of his alpacas.
Fleece samples had been taken in the December, Before the alpacas were shorn, i have given only 1 example of a histogram from Alpaca C, which is the second histogram to the right.
This was typical of all the alpacas on the farm, and displaying a norm as far as nutrional intake for the 12 mth growth along the fibre diagram.
When he got his samples back raken the mid march, approx 3 weeks after his alpacas were moved to his own property. First histogram is the sample alpaca as histogram 1, for the less than 4 month period which started from being shorn, extreme heat, the move to our farm, and then when the alpacas were moved back to the original property.
Histogram 3 and 4 are also samples taken after shearing, arriving on our property, extreme heat for a month, and then the move back. When glancing at his histograms, the original breeder could not understand the huge difference in his histograms in such a short time.
i was glancing through his file of approx 20 odd alpacas, when i noticed an alarming pattern in the along fibre states (the line graph), which was almost consistantly the same in all the histograms excet for one, which seem to shape the other way.
I know this graph is the graph that tells me the micron blow out along the length of the fibre, b ut how was it that the blow out was so extreme in all bar 1 alpaca.
Then i realised, that from this point forward, just after shearing, his alpacas were moved to our place, because of the fires- maybe it had to do with the extreme heat, maybe to do with undue stress of the move, as the alpacas were obviously affected from the complete rush of whole herds being picked up, and on a complete new property.
Maybe smell of smoke, as it was constant the whole time, and animals seem to sense danger.All the paddocks had dried out because of the excessive heat, and we had just fresh hay bales around all the paddocks, as the hay had just been cut the week before, which they all seem to love.
I would like to point out before i go further into the story, that the original histograms of alpaca C
But then why is there 1 alpaca with the bell shape curve going the other way?
I said to our fellow breeder, when the alpacas (shorn) were here they just all stood around the hay bales, and just ate non stop all day. They ere in the middle of the paddocks and the almost demolished all the hay.
I would like to point out before i go further into my story, that Alpaca C, the histograms were taken in 3 spots, by daughter had taken the samples, and so the subsequent samples would have been taken in almost the identical spot as the previous tests sites.
We take hundreds of samples yearly, and everytime we take samples, when we open the fleece, we usually open the place to take the samples we often see a sample has already been taken from that spot.
The sebsequent histograms (due to space i have only placed 1 sample of each alpaca, there were three samples taken here also. So the comparison is pretty uniform on three samples taken of each alpaca, samples shown here are all the midside sample, and the alpacas, were all shorn the same day, and samples the same day, all in the same conditions.
The girl that had the downward bell shape, was one of the late pregnant females.
There were quite a few late pregnant females, as we were averaging 3 babies born a day at that stage, and also just a hand full of unshorn alpacas, (at owners request).
These alpacas were checked on an hourly basis, in that heat any baby would die very quickly if it was born and did not get up quick enough.
But even the nights were hot, with most nights being mid 30's C.
I kept a very close eye on the late pregnants, and unshorn alpacas, as we moved some of the hay bales in front of the cypress row of trees, leaving approx 10 mt gap, this causeway was a cool relief from that burning sun, and heat in the air.
and the late pregnants and unshorn alpacas, would sit between the hay bales, and cypress tress, not gutsing like the other shorn alpacas, but comfortably nibbling at the hay in the coolness.
That is why the histogram shaped the other way, the late pregnant females, and unshorn alpacas, even though they were placed in the coolest place we could think off, were not out being a normal alpaca grazing like the others in the paddock, and most likely the stress of being so late pregnant in those unexpected conditions.
This highlights to me how the enviroment can actually affect histograms, and how important to be able to take away the enviromental factor, to see an alpacas true worth.
It will be interesting to see what the histograms will be like since settling on the own farm for the rest of the year.
I could not believe the pattern in the histograms that came through was almost identical from one alpaca to the other.
When i glanced at alpacas on my farm in the same period, they were not displaying any unusual steep curve like the alpaca vistors did.
Change of feed, farm, conditions do play a large role in how the fleece is affected, and how much it can change the histogram.