Tips for prospective owners
We've all been there. When you first start investigating the alpaca world, everything seems foreign and overwhelming. No one wants to look like they don't know what they're doing... but you feel like you just don't know what you're doing. Ultimately, you won't really feel comfortable until after you've made the plunge. You might even find that your goals and plans for alpacas will change as you learn and grow. However, the tips below are the best advice to ensure you get off on the right foot. These are lessons learned the hard way by people who have been where you are.
Below are a few tips that should help guide your first purchase.
- Visit as many farms as you can before buying an alpaca. This is one that cannot be overstated. You're interviewing the farm owners as much as assessing the animals because you'll need to put a lot of trust in them. Take your time. You've got an amazing adventure ahead of you. Make sure you bring along the best guide.
- If possible, attend a local show before purchasing your alpacas. Talk to as many people as you can and try to attend any education seminars.
- There are no stupid questions. We've all been there too. It's important to ask any question - trust your intuition and if you have a concern, ask.
- When purchasing your first alpaca, avoid the temptation to purchase from a farm going out of business. They won't be around to train or assist you when you need it (and at some point you'll need it).
- Make sure you know the basics of alpaca assessment like body score, fleece evaluation, and conformation before purchasing your first alpaca. If you can't learn this on your farm visits, you can attend seminars put on by alpaca farms for beginners (google: "alpaca beginner seminar").
- You'll want to purchase from a local farm. That way you'll have a local mentor to assist you. You might even purchase from multiple farms to have multiple resources.
- You'll always hear that you should buy the "most" alpaca you can afford. If you're planning to show your alpacas or breed them, this is a truth that cannot be understated. The alpacas you produce will be based on the quality of their parents.
- When assessing breeding stock, look at the traits of other offspring or related animals. Make sure the parents and siblings share the same traits you hope to breed from that alpaca. If hoping to show your alpacas, look for parents and siblings that are proven in the show ring.
- Don't buy into the statement that "she's ugly but makes pretty babies". If she's ugly then her babies could be ugly. Some will say that a great herdsire can be bred to any female and produce amazing offspring. That's just not true. To get amazing offspring you want an amazing dam and sire.
- Above all have fun! You're embarking on an awesome adventure. Take lots of pictures and make many new friends.