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Friday, October 6, 2017

What they don’t tell you about owning alpacas

Baby Dazel

Baby Dazel

Five years ago we bought our first four alpacas: Nobody (that you believe) tells you why not to buy alpacas. So that is my reflection for today. Mistakes that we have learned from.

Our first three girls were half sisters. The seller wanted to keep them together so offered a buy one this price, two with a discount or three for a bigger discount. Yes, I could understand why she wanted to keep her pride and joys together. They had always been together. And it was a bargain price. What I wasn’t told was that in a small herd, we might have breeding challenges because so many alpacas and their offspring are related.
Our second purchase came at a hefty price. She was a beautiful cria with good bloodlines. The sellers did not budge on price. We wanted her, more than they wanted to sell her. Maybe we could have negotiated harder. We still love her dearly, however, we will never know if we paid too much. They showed her a lot and she won many ribbons and even a trophy. We have many quality alpacas that have never competed. Their bloodlines are excellent and fiber outstanding. Don’t be fooled by the number of ribbons. Some people chose not to incur the expense or time it takes to compete.
When my husband gives me the green light to do something, I jump right in with both feet. No problem, I thought. We were planning to move back to the Midwest. We can board our alpacas until we buy a farm. Did not expect it to take over a year to find and purchase a home for our animals. The good news is we boarded at three different places while we were in transition. We learned a lot and got excellent care. Bad news: we spent a lot of money. I would recommend that you have a place for your animals to live before you buy. We would love to board your animals if you are independently wealthy or while you are fine tuning your farm/ranch.
We read that 97% of the time alpacas do not need assistance with giving birth. Guess what, we had one pregnancy re-absorb and one still born before the alpacas even got to our farm. Our first cria died at four months from a twisted colon. We continued to have two additional still borns on our farm. So sad, when you wait a whole year and don’t have a viable birth. Despite all the phone coaching and vet calls we did not recognize mom was having a distressed labor. Another cria was a month early and caught on the pelvic bone. So sad, these are the realities that I was not expecting. Although, when the mom survives, it is a trade off. Explain to a five year old grandchild about these loses. There are times you wonder what you got yourself in to.
The good news. We now have had six viable births. Glory be! And, when they are textbook perfect, it is amazing. Even when you don’t see the birth, a new life is precious. Despite all the hard lessons. Raising alpacas is a joy. Some days can be heart breaking, but so is life. It takes courage at times. But I know I am in the right place when I see those sweet faces.