Heatherbrook Farms, LLC began when Vicky (master gardener and daughter of a landscaper) wanted "some land" to be able to grow more than shade plants. Many acres later, we were wondering what we could do together for the next 20 years utilizing this land. After investigating produce, blueberries, blackberries, and various other labor-intensive horticultural interests, we were both definitely not excited (in fact, totally uninterested).Since we both love animals, we decided a four-legged approach might be a better idea. Horses, cattle, and sheep needed more land and work for limited return. Goats had their own set of problems. Then we found camelids. Llamas were intriguing, but we did not like the investment dynamics. Then we found alpacas, and it was over. Small, manageable, and easy to care for with fantastic fiber, a closed registry and slow gestation period all combined with excellent tax benefits to give the business model promise.The good news was the farm had a home built in the 1860's and a wonderful barn and pole barn built in the 1880's. These have been easily adapted for alpacas. Adding nine irrigated inter-connecting pastures completed the Phase I modifications. Phase II was an 8,000 square foot barn, complete with a vet room and the ability to do our own fecals, IgGs, and blood tests.Heatherbrook Farms, LLC is breeding for correct conformation in fine fibered alpacas covering a broad range of colors. We particularly enjoy the challenge of working for higher quality fiber in black and grey alpacas. Of our original foundation huacaya females, all but four are grey or black. These four were either from two grey parents or fawn or brown with strong black and grey genetics. When moving to a larger operation we have purchased females in an array of colors. We still enjoy the challenge of breeding for greys and blacks, but hope to improve the overall fiber quality by adding white and fawn females to our breeding program.Fiber is our main breeding criteria (our herd goal is 21 micron or less with eight (8) pounds shearing at 24 months of age with no more than 26 micron at 60 months of age). Maintaining healthy and productive animals with substance and bone is our priority. Ohio has the largest number of alpacas of any state. However, most are in northern to central Ohio. Heatherbrook has decided to include science into or breeding decisions. We have all of our animals micron tested for multiple years. We have done skin biopsies on all of our herdsires and most of our breeding females, so we can have a better measure of density. We take these to items, along with lineage and offspring to determine a breeding pair. So far, our methods have been successful. We offer our show string as proof-take a look at our line up on the Alpaca Events page to see our success in the showring.We try to simply show and explain our farm, methods and animals but not over-sell, attempting to over support and service hoping to create value for you in the process. With over 100 producing females, crias are born all seasons of the year. The fields are ever changing. Come often and see the changes.
Monday, July 25, 2011