Join us for a fun, educational alpaca full day seminar to learn the basics of the alpaca lifestyle. And to see if it might be right for you
You will enjoy a comprehensive overview of what it means to raise alpacas for fun and for profit. At the end of this daylong seminar you will be better informed as to what the alpaca lifestyle is all about.
We start in the barn at 9am – Lunch is provided
The seminar fee is $10 per person which can be paid on arrival.
Learn the basics of alpaca handling and care, the breeding industry, fiber opportunities and much more in a fun, relaxed Q&A atmosphere.
- The basics of Alpacas
- Ancient and recent alpaca history
- A Day in the Life of an Alpaca Rancher
- Understanding the Alpaca
- Recent and current alpaca market trends
- Alpacas as a business
- Taxes, financials, investing and
- Breeding, showing and promoting your alpaca business
- Health issues and herd management
- Hands on interaction with alpacas
- Selecting your first alpacas
We always have fun. We hope you will too as you learn a lot in a short time about the alpaca lifestyle!
Contact us to RSVP and get directions.
Through a government grant, Jennings will have the alpaca fiber spun into a yarn that can be woven with the help of a mill in North Carolina.
“I am producing a very high-end fashion line,” she said. Her line of clothing will be sold in high-end boutiques in the Chicago area.
“This is a whole new thing,” Cross added. “Alpaca fiber is in high demand.”
In the beginning, the Jennings’ sent their alpaca fleece elsewhere for sorting, processing and production, and then sold finished items like socks, scarves and mittens, along with the processed fiber, at their farm. But Patti decided to go further, and find a mill to process her fleece into thread, then fabric and ultimately, clothing.
Because of the unique characteristics of alpaca fleece, a mill needs to suspend processing of other fibers and thoroughly clean its machines, to avoid cross-contamination and to maintain the hypoallergenic qualities and softness. Also, according to Patti, the U.S. textile industry has been shrinking over the years, with the majority of weaving machinery and looms going overseas, where fabric is less expensive to manufacture. So, in addition to growing the herd, Patti has been searching for a mill that would commit to working with alpaca fiber as a woven end product. Just a few months ago, she finally found one in the South – no small feat, given the logistics involved – and is already examining fabric samples and choosing weave patterns for DesixUSA, their new clothing line.
Forreston, IL – The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association “National Alpaca Farm Days” takes place Saturday, Sept. 25, and Sunday, Sept. 26.
“Alpaca farms across the country open up their farms to introduce the alpaca to the public,” explained Patti Jennings of Willow Bend Alpaca Farms in Forreston. “This year we are going to have eight other farms here on Saturday.”
Two Rock River Valley farms are getting money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help them develop and market new opportunities.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $22.5 million in grants Thursday to farms in 45 states and Puerto Rico. There were five recipients in Illinois receiving a total of $493,230.
The lion’s share of the Illinois funding is going to Willow Bend Alpaca Farms LLC near Forreston. Willow Bend is getting $299,950 for working capital to market a clothing line made from alpaca fiber. Willow Bend was started by Patti and Doug Jennings in 2007 with three alpacas. They now have more than 50 alpacas and continue to raise, breed and sell the animals.