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Friday, 26 October 2012

Oct 24th ......And Some Fishy Business

After a couple of hours driving through the picturesque Pennsylvanian country side we arrived at our first stop of the day Denis & Monica Kline  “Suri Farm” Alpaca farm in Myerstown. The Alpaca industry is still developing in the US, It has not yet reached a critical production mass, and so is really based around the overpriced stud type industry. Though prices have come back a lot due to the GFC, they still have a long way to fall yet at some time in the future. Alpacas have a gestation period of 335 to 355 days, which means they only have one Cria (Infant Alpaca) per year, (twins are genetically undesirable). The fleece on a Suri Alpaca has no crimp, it is a long straight fibre, without a prickle factor like wool. A 21 micron Suri fleece will feel like a 14 to 15 micron Merino fleece. This currently sells for $13 to $20/kg raw depending on the quality. Monica and Denis have adopted skin measurement technology to help them in there stud selection.   Monica is very passionate about the industry and her zeal is quite infectious.

I didnt see any frogs legs in France but we found some in a shop in the USA

Following the visit to Suri Farm, a short drive took us to Limestone Springs Trout farm. Owners Brent & Mark had brought the farm following experience in other areas of fish farming. They soon discovered that trout were an entirely different kettle of fish compared to the other species of fish they had been farming. They have been through some very difficult times due to weather and from learning lessons the hard way. This has taught them to look at new opportunities and reduce business risks. They have discovered the importance of good skilled staff, and critical control points. Good systems area really needed in a business like this where a very small mistake can prove very costly.

Brent & Mark have changed focus in their business, after discovering by accident that recreational in this picturesque creek flowing from their farm was a lucrative business  

The Final stop for the day was Way-Har farms. This is a family operated, vertically integrated dairy, milking 111 cows. The cows are shedded for 10 to 11 months of the year with 600ac of the farm supporting them. The business puts 90% of its milk through its small milk processing factory, where it is bottled and made into icecream. This is sold through their roadside shop and to other customers around the county. The commitment by the family to running the business was amazing. We witnessed there 16 yo daughter and a friend milking the heard, which she said was a regular occurrence, and that she loved doing it.  The business milks 3 times per day, making for a very hectic schedule. My overall impression was that the family was too busy working in the business and really needed to take a step back, and do some work on the business.

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