Picture Gallery: Scottish Alpaca Championships 2018 in Lanark
Two local women who fell in love with alpacas and now base their businesses on the animals were also instrumental in founding the Scottish Alpaca Group.
And Marleen Miller and Pauline Robson, together with the group, then founded the Scottish Alpaca Championships which have been staged since 2016 at Lawrie and Symington’s Lanark Agricultural Centre.
On Saturday, April 28, the third championships were held with more than 130 animals from 28 exhibitors across Scotland and northern England being judged in the alpaca version of Crufts.
Each year, more and more people both exhibit and attend the event.
And this year was no different, with hundreds of spectators descending to see these beautiful creatures in the flesh.
For Pauline and Marleen, working with alpacas is an everyday occurrence as they both now have farms which are home to the native South American animals.
Marleen, who is one of the show organisers and chairwoman of the Scottish Alpaca Group, decided not to show this year as two of her boys were unwell.
However, she was still on hand to watch events unfold and was delighted with the turn out.
She said: “It was a great day. We seem to get more and more exhibitors every year – this year we had four new Scottish breeders but there were farmers from all over Scotland in attendance.
“There are now 42,000 alpacas registered in the UK so interest in the breed is definitely growing.
“The Scottish Alpaca Championships gives us the chance to both show our animals and to meet others who have a keen interest in alpacas.
“I started with four girls back in 2011 and now have 27 boys and girls.
“Sadly, a couple of the boys took not well so I decided not to show this year as I didn’t want to put them through any more stress.
“But the championships were a great success, once again, and we were all delighted with the numbers who visited.”
Marleen was formerly a lecturer in joinery at the City of Glasgow College.
But she saw alpacas on Escape to the Country and fell in love with them.
And when she moved from Lesmahagow to Netherfield Farm in Coalburn in 2011, she had alpaca farming in mind.
Two years ago, she set up Netherfield Alpacas, offering trekking experiences with the animals, as well as agility classes and birthday parties.
Marleen added: “The trekking experiences are now hugely popular.
“People enjoy a two hour experience, trekking for an hour with the alpacas before meeting all the animals and looking at the fleeces and products we make.
“I’m lucky as my mother-in-law is a great knitter so she knits products for me and we also sell the rovings to spinners and the woven alpaca yarn to knitters.”
Pauline Robson also fell in love with alpacas and has farmed them at Westyett Farm, near Lanark, for almost 10 years.
Her partner John Beattie was not convinced to begin with but they have since stolen his heart too.
Pauline explained: “I fell in love with alpacas many years ago – they’re so cute, what’s not to love?!
“We moved here 12 years ago and had lots of ground so it was my chance to finally make my dream come true.
“But John is a typical farmer so when I asked him to come to an auction with me, he said no thank you!
“I bought two pregnant females at that alpaca auction in Carlisle – we now have 31 and John has become a convert.
“Now we’re getting older, we only have a few sheep and are concentrating more and more on the alpacas.
“In fact, John spends more time than I do now looking after them and focusing on breeding. He’s been brought, kicking and screaming, over to my side.
“I’m not surprised though as alpacas are lovely, gentle animals to work with – although some of the teenagers can be a bit stroppy at times!”
Pauline, who also sells a range of alpaca products, was showing at the championships and was delighted with her success rate.
She added: “We entered eight animals and came home with five rosettes so we were very happy with that.
“It was a great show, with farmers from all over the country attending.
“It’s a great venue as it has all the pens we need, a show ring and, of course, is under cover indoors – which is ideal for the Scottish weather!”
With alpacas growing in popularity, it looks like these championships will only go from strength to strength.
For more details on the show or group, visit http://scottishalpacagroup.com.