PREVIEW: British Alpaca Futurity 2013 @ NEC, 15th & 16th March

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Promoted as ‘a different day out’, the annual British Alpaca Futurity (BAF) comes to the NEC this week; taking over Hall 3A on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th.

Tickets are £7.50 on the door, or available through www.ticketfactory.com / Accompanied children below 16yrs get in free.

‘Over 35 trade stands’ will be selling equipment needed to raise and care for Alpacas, along with advice from existing breeders on how to commercially rear the animal.

Garments and products using Alpaca wool will also be sold, along with live demonstrations of felting, hand spinning & crochet work’ – plus a chance for the public to ‘make your own’.

There will also be a showcase ceremony, where over 400 Alpacas will compete for rosettes and awards. Organisers have compared this event to Crufts, but for Alpacas.

Competitions will also be held in Alpaca based photography, art work and fibre craft.

But what is an Alpaca? Described by BAF organisers as ‘creatures which look like a cross between a sheep and a giraffe’, they are part of the Camelidae family; sharing linage with the camel and llama.

Found predominately in South America, enjoying the higher altitudes of the Andres across southern, Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador and northern Chile – Alpacas number approximately 30,000’ in the UK; being farmed for their fleece and wool.

Used to harsh mountain terrains in dangerous climates, the Alpaca can adapt to the systems of British rotation grazing well. They also eat approximately 1-2% or their body weight per day, as opposed to 2-3% for sheep, and have a healthy self-discipline of separating areas for eating and for waste.

Alpaca wool is sold for fleece linings, shawls, scarves, waistcoats, hats and jumpers; as well as duvets, blankets and pillows.

The British Alpaca Futurity 2013 comes to Hall 3A at the NEC on March 15th & 16th. Tickets are available at www.ticketfactory.com or on the door.

For further information on the British Alpaca Futurity, including a programme of this year’s event, visit www.britishalpacafuturity.com

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