The Sunshine State Alpacas group is committed to providing education and support to our regional breeders, both experienced and new. On this page, we will post weekly tips from all of our members. Everything from husbandry to breeding to showing will be discussed in hopes that each week, there will be something to learn. Please email us with any comments!
Buying Your First Alpacas
Your first purchase can make or break your alpaca adventure. As such, we offer the following tips to consider BEFORE you make your first purchase:
1. Have a plan!
You have to know what you would like to do with your alpacas. Do you want pets? To breed? To show? If you want pets, then the most important thing is to find healthy, easy-to-handle stock. If you want to breed or show, then think about which breed you like, what colours you like, and pick a narrow focus. When you have a focused breeding goal, you are far better prepared to measure progress, find quality males, and find consistency in results. Ask any of the SSA breeders for more info on this topic.
2. Visit as many farms as you can.
It is easy to fall in love with an alpaca on your first farm tour, and you may well end up purchasing those alpacas. However, it is a very valuable exercise to see not just other animals, but HOW other farmers run their programs. You may not know exactly what you are looking at (after all, they are ALL cute), but seeing a large number lets you see things like frame and conformation. You can get a better sense of the animals that fit your individual situations. The extra time and effort will pay dividends in the end. You may also find that you may get far more bang-for-your-buck in other places!
Buying and Selling Males
Unless you plan on breeding your own alpacas, and more than a few, you should not buy an intact male - even if he is young. For guards and pets, wethered males are far better and far easier for less experienced alpaca owners. And certainly, there are no circumstances in which a "mating pair" is a good idea.
The breeders you visit should tell you these things, and if they do not, be sceptical. Breeders, please, don't sell uncut males or mating pairs. These males, in far too many cases, end up being headaches for new owners. They can be aggressive, too assertive and very difficult to handle. They are hard on other males, and will tend to dominate them, even in the absence of females on the farm. In cases where they are sold as a part of a mating pair, more times than not, the anticipated cria does not ever arrive. The male will hassle and hound the female, who, if she takes pregnant, may abort each time. Eventually, these males need to be separated, and then each needs a new companion. More often than not, these males will end up being cut - some too late to change behaviour.
Reputable breeders know this. Be wary of breeders who tell you that a male is too good to wether or that they need to be left intact until they reach maturity. In many cases, it is the vet cost that drives this sales tactic. If you want your own cria, buy a pregnant female. A female with a wether is a perfectly acceptable solution!