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Located in the mountains of Ashland, Oregon  
Mulberry Alpacas Saturday, 19 July, 2008  

 

Don Julio Barreda

Mike Safley

Don Julio Barreda, Estancia Accoyo, Macusani, Peru

1919-2006

The following is an extract by the touching eulogy written by Mike Safley on the death of Don Julio in 2006.

"Julio Barreda—an artist who extracted pigment from the invisible DNA curling in the plasma of an ancient species—painted his vision of perfection with balance and harmony across the genotype of a herd sixty years in the making. His extraordinary accomplishment, a gift from God, touched each of us.

Don Julio stood all of five foot six, hair combed straight back—black until the day he died, nut brown skin, burnished and creased by an Incan sun and the cruel, cold wind that comes to rest in the marrow of a man born of Macusani’s high plains. Don Julio was a giant in the alpaca world—the Godfather. He was born of a Quechua woman and an accountant father from Arequipa, who died, leaving little Julio to be raised by his mother and grandfather on a vast hacienda in the province of Carabaya. His relationship with alpacas began almost before he could talk."

 

The following is the story of his admirable life ........

Don Julio Barreda's mother, Dona Victona Aragon Barreda, bred Alpacas prior to bringing Julio into the world. Julio felt the pulse of the Alpaca as a young boy. He learned the art of breeding camelids and harvesting their fiber beginning at 13 years of age.

Today, Don Julio is one of the most important Peruvian Alpaca ranchers. His ranch "Accoyo," an Indian word meaning "sandy ground," lies near the village of Macusani, 15,000 feet above sea level. National Geographic Magazine has called Macusani the world center for Alpaca fiber production.

To understand the true history of the Alpaca, one must look to Peru, where textiles have played an important part in the civilization of the high Andes since pre-Inca times. During the day of the Incan empire, Alpaca husbandry was very carefully regulated by the "Camayocc," or Alpaca professional. The spinning and weaving of Alpaca garments was highly organized; only the Inca rulers and their court were privileged to wear Alpaca.

Recently, Alpaca breeding has suffered in Peru, socialized land reforms adversely impacted the breeding of Alpacas. The Shining Path or "Sendero Luminoso" terrorists wreaked havoc on the farms of the Alta Plano. Don Julio in his role as a modern day "Camayocc" has persevered. He has managed to maintain his royal bloodlines (Plantel) through thick and thin. Today Don Julio shepherds about 2,500 head. Approximately 75% are huacaya and the balance are suri. The bloodlines of his "Plantel" herd date back to 1946.

From the start, Don Julio has been known as an innovator. He was the first breeder to introduce fencing. Many in Peru thought him to be "loco," building fences, creating artificial boundaries on the almost unlimited terrain, but it wasn't long before the benefits of this radical concept became apparent. Not only could fenced plots support more animals by utilizing pasture rotation, but the Alpaca were better nourished, had higher fertility rates, and lower cria mortality rates.

The benefit of fencing did not stop with better nutrition. This innovation allowed for the separate breeding of suri and huacaya. Llamas could not be crossbred with Alpacas. Don Julio began to develop truly purebred Alpacas of the highest quality.
Today, after many years of rigorous genetic selection, Barreda has redefined the Alpaca. His ranch maintains two herds of huacaya. One herd produces a fine, but less dense fleece of 20 microns or less. The other herd produces a very dense fleece of up to 24 microns. Most of these Alpaca produce over 10 pounds of fleece annually.

Despite his advancing years, Don Julios' time is still split between Macusani and Arequipa. He returns to the mountains every two months to spend time supervising his herd, thereby ensuring that his workers do the culling, breeding, feeding, mating, shearing, parturition, and weaning according to his exacting standards.

Even with all these accomplishments, he and his lovely wife, Antonieta de Barreda, have found time to rear four daughters and many grandchildren. Peru will remember Don Julio Barreda for many years to come. He has contributed to his country, his family and his Alpacas in a fashion that is admired by all who know him.

What has been accomplished at Don Julio's beloved "Accoyo" is known to every Alpaca breeder in South America. He is truly first among his peers. Pure Accoyo bloodstock is now in the gene-pool in the United States and we all benefit from it. American breeders are beginning to appreciate why - Don Julio Barreda is truly the world's finest.

The above is based on an article written by the highly-esteemed Mike Safley of Northwest Alpacas.