An Aldergrove farm expanded its annual alpaca shearing public event to add food, entertainment, and handmade products – everything to raise money for their animal rescue program and financially help a South-American charity.
When the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) comes across an alpaca in distress, they are quick to approach Aldergrove’s Kensington Prairie Farm.
“And we have never said ‘no’,” said Dee Milton, the farm manager and granddaughter of owners Jim Dales and Catherine Simpson.
The local farm has rescued more than 100 alpacas in the last decade, 26 of which were rescued in the past year.
Initially, the farm collected money only to help Quechua Benefit, a children’s charity in Peru; however, as the number of rescue calls increased over time, Milton and her family realized the need to raise money for their rescue missions was critical.
“We kept having lots of lots of alpacas come to our farm through SPCA, and in order to pay for the rescue efforts we decided to keep a portion of donations and ticket sales for rescue missions,” shared Milton.
Explaining the high costs associated with the rescues, Milton shared an instance from two years ago. In 2020, the staff rescued Daisy, a llama, only to find out that she needed surgery that would cost close to $7,000.
Even after organizing fundraising campaigns – the farm was able to raise only $5,000 – the rest they paid out of their pocket. It is because of these sudden and unexpected calls that ticketed events like public shearing are important to the farm owners, Milton said.
About 1,500 people visited the Kensington Prairie Farm on Saturday, April 2, to play with and feed animals and watch the 20th annual alpaca shearing event.
In addition to shearing, the farm hosted a vendors market, live entertainment, facepainting, and food trucks. The efforts worked – the farm has raised more than $10,000, and the amount will be split 50-50 between the charity in Peru and Kensington Prairie Farm. Milton shared that they will be putting their 50 per cent towards rescue missions.
Close to 100 alpacas were sheared at the two-day event.
While alpacas were getting on the shearing table, the staff members explained the whole process to a small crowd gathered to watch the animals getting haircuts.
“It is really important for alpacas and llamas to be shorn every year,” yelled one of the volunteers at the top of her voice, trying to be audible amidst the loud noise of the heavy-duty trimmers.
Originally a species of South America, alpacas need to be given a haircut annually to help them deal with summer heat stress. Each alpaca loses about eight to 10 pounds in one sitting.
“After shearing and losing weight, they are happy to roam around on the farm,” said Milton while petting Sebastian, one of the most friendly alpacas at Kensington.
Sebastian, a “champion at the shearing table,” grew up on the farm and was bottle-fed by staff.
Lily, another of Kensington’s alpaca, made a lot of noise as she experienced her first shearing.
“It is a little bit scary for them the first couple of times,” said Milton, explaining they grow back their hair by winter and hence stay warm during the colder seasons.
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