Robin Nasemann has been on a world tour the last few weeks, but judging alpacas at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina proved to be a worthy stop.
“Overall, I was very impressed with the quality, especially at the top of the classes,” he said after judging both the fleece and the halter shows. “They were very high in quality, comparable to the best in the world.”
He should know. In the last few weeks he has gone from Austria to the Netherlands to France to Cleveland, Ohio, to New Zealand before arriving in Regina.
Nasemann said the CWA show is small compared to the several hundred animals he would judge elsewhere but the quality was high. That makes his job more interesting.
“You have to work more and work out the differences between the alpacas so it’s more exciting,” he said.
Entries in the fleece show came from every province from British Columbia to Quebec, while halter entries came from B.C. through Ontario.
“I was very impressed with the degree of fineness and uniformity, and uniformity of fineness, meaning the evenness of the hair across the blanket,” Nasemann said.
He attributed the quality to top-notch breeding programs.
“They can be proud,” he said of the breeders.
Nasemann and his family breed about 100 alpacas at their farm near Cologne and Dusseldorf in the western part of Germany. They have had the operation for 15 years and for nearly 10 of those Nasemann has been a certified judge through the Alpaca Owners Association based in the United States.
The fleece show was an Agribition first after the Saskatchewan Alpaca Breeders Network decided to move it from its traditional Lloydminster location to the larger event.
Organizer Carol Poole said after the halter show at Agribition last year it was obvious that the sector could benefit from being in front of a bigger audience.
“We really wanted people to learn about the fleece show,” she said.
Fleece is the basis of the industry and Poole said more people can participate because they can send fleeces to be judged without having to move animals.
“My goal was 60 fleeces. That’s what I thought would be a reasonable startup number and I ended up with 119,” Poole said.
Nasemann said when he judges fleece, he looks for fineness, or thin hair.
“The thinner the hair the softer it is,” he said. “Obviously, there should be a lot of it, too, so we shear the alpaca and then we weigh the fleece.”
Classes are sorted by colour, and he said colour itself isn’t as important as the uniformity of colour within a fleece.
Fleeces should also be dense and he said those entered last week were top quality in that respect.
During the show, Nasemann offered a seminar on fibre traits.
He encouraged breeders to continue to focus on fineness.
“The finer the fleece the more expensive it is,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of the price is fineness and uniformity of that fineness.”
He said the crimp or structure of the fleece is also important but he noted that when fleece is assessed it gets only one score even though there are different styles. Breeders should identify a style and stick with it in their breeding programs, he said.
Nasemann also reminded breeders that if they are entering fleeces in competitions they should skirt them properly. That means cleaning out debris and taking out inferior parts of the fleece.
The top fleece at the Agribition event was a fawn-coloured fleece from a three-year-old, Tiger Lily Shaka’s Pillar, from Tiger Park Alpacas at Edam, Sask.
In the halter classes, the supreme champion female was High Plains Lock of Fame, a fawn, from High Plains Alpacas in Saskatoon. The supreme champion male was Tiger Park Excell, a white alpaca, also from Tiger Park Alpacas.