Every summer when the lazy days are cooling down, PAOBA heats up with Summer Seminar. We invite a speaker or panel of guests to share their knowledge and information with us. It is a great time of networking and learning in a setting WITHOUT the distraction of animals, ribbons, etc. Although it is a busy vacation season for most, we hope you will consider making this a priority in the future. Coupled with this event is the [Fantastic] Fiber Sort! This year we probably saw the best quality fleeces since it’s inception. That shows that our membership values the Sort which benefits the Yarn Project and essentially benefits the entire industry. We encourage you to support and participate in this wonderful opportunity next year.
How fortunate are we to have a leading expert in the field directly in the center of the great state of Pennsylvania? This past August 2017, we were honored to have Dr. Van Saun DVM, MS, PhD, DACT, DACVN, from the Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, speak to us about Nutrition for the camelid. He went well beyond a basic lecture and challenged us with physiology, chemistry, and components of camelid nutrition. As a Dietitian turned Alpaca Farmer and all around science nerd, I was fully impressed with his command of the topic and years of research to back up his knowledge. He spoke to us as colleagues, as farmers, as an industry that has great concern for the health of our animals. In addition to straight lecture, he brought hands on examples of hay for us to analyze in a workshop setting and was very gracious to answer any and all questions we threw at him.
Dr. Van Saun reinforced the fact that the alpaca is indeed a unique creature. We know this merely by looking at them, but their method of digestion, utilization of nutrients, and consumption of forage is quite complex. We learned that alpacas are selective browsers (similar to a goat) while llamas are selective grazers. We learned about forage and feed and fatty acids and fermentation of fiber. We openly discussed micro and macro-nutrients in the diet of an alpaca, crude proteins, sugars, microbes, pH, and insulin resistance. I couldn’t possibly summarize his talk in a few short paragraphs. No matter how much you were able to process that day, I believe everyone walked away with some useful nuggets to employ on their farms and the privilege of knowing he is just an email away. If you are interested in learning more, go to http://www.extension.psu.edu/animals/camelids/nutrition. He also has a comprehensive textbook published by Elsevier together with Cebra, Anderson, Tibary and Johnson titled Llama and Alpaca Care.
We are always open to hear your feed back and gather suggestions for upcoming Summer Seminar. We have purposely scaled back our Educational Seminars at the Breeder’s Showcase because we feel that it is difficult to engage in the show, volunteer, network, and attend seminars all in one short weekend. Summer Seminar is a focused place where you can learn and discuss what you are learning among your peers and then maybe engage in a little social time. Bookmark your brain now for Summer Seminar and Fiber Sort 2018 at the Penn Stater – topic TBA.