24 Jul 2013

Minutes of the S.W.A.G. Committee Meeting held at Woodstock, Melplash, Dorset on 24th July 2013

Committee Members present were:

Richard Beale (RB) – Chairman

Di Davies (DD) – Treasurer; Shows

Barbara Humphreys (BH) – Membership Secretary

Jo McManus (JM) – Secretary

Mark Steele (MS) – Newsletter, Training & Education

Andy Walker (AW) – Health & Welfare

1.      Welcome Thanks were given by RB to DD who was hosting the meeting. RB reported that PR had sent his best wishes. 

2.      Apologies received from: Jean Field (JF) – Fibre/Fleece Peter Roissetter (PR) – BAS

3.      Minutes of the last meeting (3rd April 2013): approved

4.      Matters arising: DD reported that she had 3 boxes left of Alpaca 2013 magazine (from the original 13 boxes obtained); AW agreed to take them for distribution at the Ellingham and Ringwood Show.

5.      Treasurers report:

  • Bank balance as at 24th July 2013: £6290.41
  • Total worth with debtors and creditors accounted for: £6333.31
  • The Fibre Day (held 26th May) balanced at £17.45 income over expenditure
  • The Bath & West Show balanced at £230.55 income over expenditure.

6.      Committee members reports:

a.       From the Chairman

RB distributed the minutes from the Regional Group Meeting held 13th April and reported the following:

  • The proposal for having a single BAS Board Director responsible for regional groups was discussed and attendees were receptive.
  • At the meeting RB had asked how regional groups could better support the BAS.
  • A National Alpaca Week had been suggested.
  • RB commented that he was awaiting feedback on the ideas raised at the Regional Group Meeting. These ideas were due to be discussed by the BAS Board at their meeting on 17th April, minutes of which had not yet been published. RB commented that the BAS could work harder to communicate more effectively with its membership.

RB raised the general point that the BAS and regional groups put too much focus on organising shows at the expense of time spent, for example, on developing the fibre market and on health and holding issues. DD commented that this may be partly due to many alpaca owners not being from farming backgrounds. RB agreed to write an article for the next newsletter covering non show-related areas. 

RB suggested that a vice-chairman of SWAG be appointed to chair meetings in the event of his absence. It was agreed that a temporary chair would be appointed on an informal basis should this happen.

RB commented that the BBC “Wild Shepherdess” documentary with Kate Humble covering alpaca farming in Peru had been very good. DD and JM commented that they had received very positive feedback and interest from members of the public following this programme. The committee then agreed that the British alpaca industry should maximise the benefit of this exposure and Kate Humble should be approached to, for example, speak at a function or become a patron. DD suggested that the coverage could be linked in some way with the charity work the BAS are performing with the BAS’s charity Amantani. RB agreed to email PR with these suggestions.    

b.      Autumn Show, Hand Equestrian Centre, 16-17th November & SWAG AGM

DD reported the following:

Liz Barlow will judge the males and Val Fullerlove the females; the advantage of these senior judges is that they are not associated with large herds. The committee agreed that classes for wethers would not be included as they have not proved popular in the past. Entries for the show will open on 9th September and close on the 23rd October.

The entry fee will be the standard £20 + VAT. The cost of fan hire will be £25. Working on 300 entries (there were 320 in the 2012 SWAG show), the current budget requires £2500 to be raised in advertising and sponsorship (£1500 and £1000 respectively) and £200 to be raised from craft tables. This will comprise the following:

  • A5 show catalogue (to be distributed to at least 100 exhibitors and advertisers): full page colour adverts to cost £50 each
  • Trade exhibitors will be offered a free colour page advert in the catalogue on hiring a stand at the show (cost for this is £100)
  • Craft tables available for £20 for 2 days
  • For £200 sponsors will receive:
    • Trade stand
    • Editorial coverage and colour page advert in the catalogue
    • Banner displayed at edge of the arena for duration of show
    • Free advert in the on-line newsletter for all issues in 2014 (quarterly)

All members of the committee to each provide a list of possible catalogue advertisers to Di by Friday 2nd August.

Harvey Brown will be the official photographer at the show and Alpaca Magazine will be able to use his photos.

The committee agreed that Alpaca Magazine should be approached by DD to sponsor the Autumn Show by including editorial, photos and the advertiser/sponsor list in their winter edition.

In order to attract entries from around the country as well as the South West, the committee agreed to promote entries to the show via the following methods:

  • A targeted email to breeders who put forward entries to the National Show
  • Emails to the membership via BAS, specifically promoting the Autumn Show using a bespoke, Autumn Show branded banner (to be designed by MS)
  • Editorial in the SWAG Newsletter using the banner
  • A mention in the summer edition of Alpaca Magazine (already arranged by JM) 

The show would be marketed as being friendly, easily accessible from major roads and welcome to all.

The SWAG AGM will be held in the early evening of Saturday, 16th November. This will be convenient for members attending the show and will also help to reduce SWAG costs for 2013. 

The BAS Trailer would not be included at the show due to the large inconvenience and cost of picking it up from Warwickshire. 

c.       Other Shows 2013:

The National Show, May 2013 The committee agreed the show had been very successful with over 3000 people attending. DD commented that the evening entertainment was excellent. SWAG had come second after The Heart of England in the regional group competition. However there were a couple of complaints:

  • Although exhibitors had pre-knowledge of the class schedule, some still found it inconvenient for handling purposes to have classes taking place in two arenas at the same time; DD proposed that the arenas should be split by whites and colours for 2014 so reducing the chance of an exhibitor having simultaneous entries in both arenas.
  • The large amount of rain before and during the event made some muddy conditions inevitable, about which there were some complaints.

DD also reported the following:

  • Entries for the Honiton Show were now closed, 80 alpacas had been entered
  • Entries for the North Devon show were now closed, 39 alpacas and 69 fleeces had been entered
  • There were 55 entries so far for the Ellingham & Ringwood Show, a new show for 2013
  • The Romsey Show is taking place on 14th September

DD agreed to send an editorial summary of the shows taken place so far in the region to MS for the SWAG Newsletter and also to BH for inclusion on the SWAG website.

d.      Programme for 2013:

i.            Fleece & Fibre day – review

DD reported very positive feedback from the day. MS agreed to ask Karen Childerley (Childerley Alpacas hosted the day) for a written report that could be included in the SWAG Newsletter.

Classical MileEnd Alpacas had offered to host a fleece & fibre day at their farm in January 2014. DD offered to get a date in time for the October SWAG newsletter. MS will announce plans for the day in the next newsletter anyway.

ii.            Fibre Day at the Two Rivers Mill – late September
DD reported that both the 21st and 28th of September were possible dates and she would confirm a date with Two Rivers in time for it to be announced in the next SWAG Newsletter.

iii.            Herd visit to The Alpaca Stud

The committee agreed that this visit would not be possible this year. It was felt that as the farm was based in Sussex it may prove to be too long a journey for many members and therefore the visit would not be well supported.RB commented that perhaps the alpaca community should be more supportive of each others herds and be keen to learn from them. DD responded that the alpaca community’s culture was different to that of the limousin breeders of which RB had experience.Other committee members commented that alpaca breeders make individual decisions for their breeding programmes based on the specific traits that they wish to introduce to their herd, and so they are likely to travel and learn about other herds based on their own particular requirements. A general visit to a large herd may not, therefore, be relevant for many breeders, especially if it is outside the region.

iv.            Vet day – October

DD had emailed Alistair Hayden form Synergy Veterinary Group asking him to suggest possible subjects to speak about (e.g. an update on the Enferplex TB test, nutrition in poor weather conditions). A date needed to be agreed with Carole Eyre (the host) and catering had been lined-up.

e.       Membership & Communication

BH reported that 2 new members had joined since the last newsletter, making the total membership 89. This was 20 less than this time last year. The possibility of producing a new yearbook for 2014 was discussed as per the previous agreement to produce one biannually. BH reported that she was supplying 2012 yearbooks to new members and the committee agreed that this was not giving an up to date representation of SWAG, although the articles may be useful. It was agreed that rather than produce a 2014 Yearbook, where advertising could be difficult to gain given the push needed to get advertising for the Autumn Show catalogue, the committee would concentrate on providing full and up to date information via the quarterly newsletters and the website.

f.       Marketing, Media and Website

BH reported that the current live website needed updating urgently and that content was needed to complete the new website before it could go live.The following content is needed for the new website:

  • About Alpacas
  • Alpaca Ownership
  • About SWAG
  • Newsletters & articles
  • Show Results
  • News
  • Calendar of Events

MS agreed to manage the content. It was agreed that show results could be provided by linking to the BAS website and DD will also extract a list of SWAG winners. JM agreed to write the content for Alpaca Ownership (using information contained in 2012 Alpaca Magazine as a guide). BH agreed to write the content for About Alpacas.

It was agreed that while providing updates for the new website was important, the work required for the Autumn Show should take precedence. 

g.      Health & Welfare

AW reported that he will be attending the next Health & Welfare Committee Meeting, the date to be decided. RB reported that DEFRA is currently consulting on their 25 year TB strategy and the 2 UK camelid societies were on their consultation list. For more information and the strategy document see https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/tb/.

h.      Fibre/Fleece

JF had reported prior to the meeting that Cameron Holt had attended the recent Fibre Committee Meeting and had reiterated the importance of his fibre shearing shed protocols and the need for sorting fleece at the time of shearing etc. JF commented that in order for these protocols to be met, several helpers are required at shearing.

The committee agreed that members may benefit from some practical, simple advice about how to conduct and improve their shearing and sorting process. DD agreed to write an article describing her methods for the SWAG Newsletter due out in the first quarter of 2014, prior to shearing season.

JF also reported that the East Anglia Mill had attended the Fibre Committee Meeting and had brought a hank of suri alpaca that had been processed at the mill.  The handle was beautiful but did not have the expected lustre from suri.

7.      Ideas for 2004: 

a.       Lotto – it was agreed that there were too many legal issues involved in running such a scheme

b.      SWAG member prizes at shows – although DD had previously failed to get interest from breeders for winning rosettes for being the top SWAG member in a class, the committee urged her to try again at the Autumn Show as new members were now entering.

c.       Inter-herd competition – proposed by RB, these competitions are held in the cattle industry. The committee agreed that they could be used to promote increased welfare and improved husbandry within the industry and that they could be successful. Areas needing to be explored included how the judges would be chosen and the judging criteria. It was agreed that this idea would be discussed further at a future meeting and JM agreed to place it higher in the meeting’s agenda for this purpose. 

8.      Date of next meeting: 1:00pm, Thursday, 24th October at Homers Farm, nr. Shaftesbury by kind invitation of Barbara Humphreys.