Above - An otherwise beautiful fleece rejected due to VM contamination.
We have learnt a great deal in the past six months with the introduction of 4 mini mill buyers plus the increased order from our Major buyer, and the development of a database recording system, kindly supplied and supported by David Callaghan. We are looking forward to a very bright collection season this year.
The key lesson learnt is that contamination of any kind severely downgrades the financial return.
Our major buyer uses a far more sophisticated scouring process which can remove almost all vegetation.
If we are to pursue our current Australian buyers, they require minimal to no vegetation.
We have a number of very good volunteers who help us with collection, allocation and pressing days, but we can no longer expect them to remove the vegetation that we have seen in the past.
We ask you to contribute by presenting your fleeces in the best manner possible. Please refer to the Guidelines for shearing shed setup and Fleece Preparation on the AAA website in the Resource centre under the heading 'Fleece' and our updated 'Collection Day' notes available on our AFN(Aust) website www.afna.com.au or we can email these to you upon request.
Collection dates will be released soon for those breeders who have fleeces left over from last year's shearing. We will email reminders and post dates on AFN(Aust) website and also on the events calendar on the Annkea Alpacas website - www.annkeaalpacas.com.au.
Helpers are always welcome on any collection days.
September 2015 - Update
The orders are now rolling in for fleece of all micron and colours, so you need to get in for your "two bobs worth" if you want to sell that fleece for what its worth, not just let it sit in the shed and rot. We have an order to be filled before the end of the year, so get on it.
Also remember to follow the shearing and skirting guidelines to make it worth the most.
We are particularly looking for coloured fleece in the 20-22, 22-24 and 24-26 micron ranges.
For the latest in collection dates in Victoria, go to the "Upcoming Events" page listed at left.
SA dates will be listed asap, or contact us to arrange a date.
Early 2015 - Update
We have been making regular sales of fibre during the first part of the year and this is providing payment to breeders and funds for operating AFN(Aust).
South Australia is looking at purchasing a 40' container to provide storage space and free up the sorting part of the shed. It will mean more working room and less juggling of full and part-full bales, which wastes time and effort. It will also reduce the risk of contamination by vermin. This has not been a problem to date, but we do not want to put breeders valuable fleece in harms way. We are also hoping to have our second hand hydraulic press set up soon. This will mean more weight in the bales and better freight returns, and quicker pressing of the bales saving more time.
October 2014 - Update
We have good news for all AFN(Aust) contributors.
We can now announce that the sale price for contributors of the Lines 3 and 4 (20-22 and 22-24 micron) white and coloured fibre will be $20 kg for the total order of 1000kg. Payment will be asap on delivery.
With the help of Shane Carey (Central Victoria), and the Porters in South Australia, we have collected 376 Kg of Lines 3 and 4 coloured fleece, to go with 624 Kg of white that we had collected from VIC breeders and this total should be ready to ship OS in November.
"Breeders Helping Breeders" is our motto and by working together are achieving results.
We would like to remind all our fellow alpaca breeders to ask their shearers to remove the saddle first, this is the preferred method and helps to reduce contamination
by stronger fibre from the bellies and legs.
Please skirt realistically (hard) and place the saddle in a separate non-biodegradable bag.
Place legs, belly and pieces in another bag. Similarly necks can be placed into another bag.
We would appreciate these being donated to help defray costs involved with collection, transport, consumables etc. By doing this we can avoid charging a membership fee.
For further details, please refer to the "Fleece Harvesting Notes".
Tasmania - welcome to AFN(Aust)
As part of Tasmania joining AFN(Aust), a training workshop will be held at Annkea Alpacas on 29th and 30th November, with Janelle and Byron Jago coming from Tassie to undergo training as AFN(Aust) collectors for their state.
Other Sales - In September we sold 181Kg of Line 5 (24 to 26 micron) white, which will be paid by the end of October. I am also waiting for payment for the sale of some over 26 micron coloured fleece. As soon as this payment is received it will be paid out. This comes after SA sold 560kg of strong fleece in August with payment expected shortly.
All of the above has been achieved by the voluntary help of Julie Blake, Fiona Ward, Daphne Gregory, Hans van Poppel, Don and Gidget Knight, Sandra and Peter Hutchinson, Fiona Martin, Mark Agnew, Shane Carey and Leonie Fitzpatrick.
Jeffry Farman has kindly left his wool press at our place to enable us to press the fleece ready for sale. We also thank the contributors who have joined in on collection days by bringing their fleeces and shearing-day skirtings. Without the donation of these skirtings, a charge would have to be made to cover the costs of our operation.
Like other Co-ordinators, Annette and I (Keate), along with our band of happy helpers, receive no financial reward, just the personal satisfaction of achieving a better financial return for breeders and knowing that we are all helping to prove that it is possible to create an alpaca fleece industry.
Shane Carey will continue collecting coloured fleece next year in Ballarat and Mark Agnew has offered to collect coloured fleece in Pearcedale, whilst Annette and I continue to collect white and light fawn at Seville. If anyone else is interested in becoming a collection point for AFNA, please could you advise us.
We are now planning collection days for 2014-15 shearings and it would help us greatly if we knew the answers to the following:-
1) Who is bringing fleeces?
2) How many fleeces?
3) What colours?
4) Your preferred day and month - let us know via email.
This year's major buyer has indicated that they would like double the quantity (of all colours) next year. They are also investigating the possibility of a product using 16 to 18 micron white, with very high Comfort Factor (CF). This would require a sample of 100 Kg of raw fleece, which would be scoured down to an amount suitable to produce a luxury product that could be worn close to the skin. This would be a very costly trial which we may have to partly fund.
We seek comments and expressions of interest.
There are no scourers or processors in Australia, to our knowledge, that can undertake a trial like this, but knowing the buyer we believe it is well worth thinking about.
We look forward to receiving your return email and then enjoying your company at this season's collections.
Thanks to Jolyon Porter we will have regular updates on our AFNA website and Facebook page.
Keate and Annette Woodgate
July 2014 - Update
Due to the tireless help of our band of volunteer workers on fleece collection days, and extra days when finishing backlogs, we are well on the way to finalising the order we have for 1200kg of white, fawn, brown and black fleece. Our collection of coloured fleece has been greatly helped by Shane Carey joining with us in the Central Region. Also, by Kerry Porter passionately now collecting coloured fleeces in South Australia, and Darryl Sherman in Western Australia.
This order is from an overseas buyer who knows about our 'Quality Assured' brand as a result of the order sent to Europe last August for 18-20 micron white fibre as a trial, for which contributing breeders received a price of $23.50 per kilo. We have already collected enough white fleece (600Kg) for this current order, and are well on they way to completing the coloured fleece requirement. We anticipate the price for this order of 20-24 micron fleece to be over $15.00 Kg.
Our system of shearing off the saddle first, realistically skirting, collecting, rechecking and then OFDA 2000 testing three point samples is paying off. A client who purchased a significant amount of coloured fleece early this year is now negotiating for a second order. Happy buyers means return customers - we are doing it right!
We also now have a potential buyer for all colours of under 24 micron of shorter than 75mm, to be used for felting. We are confident of finding customers for every line we can collect - no more burning, burying or giving away those stronger or hairy lines.
As you can see, we have markets opening up for 'Quality Assured' fibre. As breeders, we must now handle our shorn fibre with due respect, realistically skirt, and test each fleece. Joining with other breeders to collect saleable quantities is a logical step, as most buyers are wanting a minimum of 300kg of each line and colour. To get more info or join AFNA, go to our contacts page and speak to a co-ordinator before the next shearing season.
2014 - has seen the SA group hold a number of fleece collection and training days in both the northern and southern Adelaide Hills areas. The first couple of days concentrated on white and light fawn fleeces, with later days being for coloured fleece collections. Each day has seen new members attend for training and submission of fleeces, with well over 400 kilos collected for skirting, testing and classing.
Above - Answering a call for coloured fleeces for our current order, an AFNA contributor turned up with a float load at our June sorting days. Fantastic!
With orders for fleece being received and progressively filled, this is giving great heart to the co-ordinators who are working with breeders to achieve the best prices possible for their fleeces, and all at minimal cost. Breeders working with breeders!
More days are planned, with a special day over on Yorke Peninsula in the works. Check the Upcoming Events page regularly for details.
Above - Some SA region breeders at a recent sorting day in the Adelaide Hills.
2013 - The Victorian group held a Fleece Harvesting Workshop on the 11th August 2013, at Seville. Organised by the Victorian Co-ordinators, Keate and Annette Woodgate, it was a great success with some 60 breeders attending, not only from Victoria but also some from New South Wales and South Australia.
The day started with a meeting at which Keate advised the attendees of the aims of the group, the importance of correct shearing and classing protocols, and the effect this can have on the price we receive for our fleeces.
The group was then addressed by John Edwards, from Tailored Strands, and Trish Esson, of Cashmere Connections, who reinforced the groups aims of correct shearing and classing to achieve the top price.
They related horror stories of fleece presentation of lots they were purchasing and why they cannot afford to pay good money for 'rubbish', but are more than happy to reward growers for consistently well classed fleece.
After a well catered lunch (thanks very much Annette), the group then moved into the shearing shed where a number of shearers demonstrated the preferred method of shearing. This method is not greatly removed from the one most shearers currently use, but the slight modification can make a significant difference to the level of contamination to valuable fleeces. The prime change is to take the saddle of the fleece off the animal before any other part of the fleece is touched by the handpiece. This change does not alter the time taken to shear each animal, once the shearer is in the groove. Further information can be found here.
Above - Breeders and shearers from both Victoria and SA at the August 2013 meeting.
As each fleece was removed, the saddles were taken to the classing tables and a demonstration was given to attendees of the correct method for skirting and classing each fleece.
A number of animals were shorn and fleeces classed to ensure the breeders and shearers in attendance had a good grasp of the requirements.
During the lunch break and the chat after the shearing, there was much discussion on what had been learnt during the day, and all seemed positive with the progress of AFNA's development.
It is planned for all states to have similar workshops in the near future, subject to the Co-ordinators abilities to find suitable times and venues. Keep up with progress via the Upcoming Events page, or contact your closest Co-ordinator.
So far in 2014, there have been a number of collection/training days in both Victoria and South Australia, with hundreds of kilos of fleece skirted, tested and classed ready for sale. There have also been a number of sales of both white and coloured fleece.
For more details of what is happening in your region, follow the link on the left to the Events page.