A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 20, 2007

Ignorance is no excuse

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — alpacalady @ 7:36 am

Yesterday evening I learnt of a sad situation involving four alpacas.  The alpacas had been listed for sale in a classified ad paper at a very low price, three males and one female for $6,500.  The female alone would usually be worth at least double that amount.

Fortunately someone called on the ad and went to visit the alpacas to see if they wanted to purchase them.  When the prospective buyer arrived they found the alpacas to be in terrible condition and standing in about 8 inches of poop.  The prospective buyer was fortunately someone with some gumption who was not afraid to confront the owner of the alpacas about their terrible condition.  The prospective buyer told the owner that it was going to take a lot to get these alpacas into good health and managed to persuade the owner that the alpacas should go with the prospective buyer with no money changing hands.  Fortunately the owner agreed and the alpacas are now in the hands of someone who is prepared to try and restore them to good health.

I understand that the alpacas are parasite laden and underweight.  Amazingly the female alpaca delivered a cria a couple of days ago.  The cria is alive but it obviously has a tremendous uphill battle ahead of it.

It saddens me immensely to hear of stories such as this.  I don’t know the circumstances of the owner of the alpacas and it would be harsh of me to criticize them without knowing what led to this situation.  Maybe they have experienced ill health or financial hardship; maybe they were sold the alpacas without any follow up support or being advised as to basic care for the alpacas.  Still if the alpacas are in as bad shape as I have been told, then at some stage that owner must have realized that he or she was not coping and that the alpacas were suffering.

When I think of my own herd, it makes me shudder to think that anyone of them could end up in circumstances such as these.  I would hope it would not happen, I keep in close contact with all of the people I sell alpacas to and also screen them thoroughly to make sure they are responsible caring people who will not treat the alpacas as “disposable”. 

To some it is all too easy to accept payment from someone willing to purchase an alpaca, typically that payment is going to be for a significant amount of money for alpacas are not cheap to buy.  Personally though unless I know that my alpaca is going to be cared for, loved and respected by its new owner that payment is not worth a penny to me.  I have been instrumental in bringing most of my herd into this world, and it is my responsibility to see that their time on earth is spent in a good and loving home.  Is it easy to turn down a sale?  In some ways not, income is a critical component to any business, but in other ways yes it is easy to turn down the sale if I know that the sale will result in the alpaca suffering.

As the alpaca population grows in the United States I fear that we will hear about more situations such as this.  The majority of alpaca owners are passionate about their alpacas and so hopefully will be particular as to new homes for members of their herd, but there will be some who do not care so much and are just in the alpaca business for the money.  I have always maintained that the true value of a successful alpaca business is not just a monetary one, it is the whole way of life that alpacas bring that makes this business so special.   Yes there are financial gains to be had, but not at the expense of ones conscience or the alpacas.

I was once told that the Peruvians believe that one of their gods gave them alpacas on the understanding that they were well cared for; otherwise the gods would remove the alpacas from the earth.  When you have spent some time around alpacas you come to realize what special and unique creatures they are and you can understand why the Peruvians and other South American cultures hold the alpaca in such high esteem. 

My heartfelt thanks goes to the person who went out and recovered these alpacas from such a terrible situation.  That person could have easily decided that it was not their business to intervene, but in the spirit of a true alpaca lover they could not walk away and leave those alpacas behind.  Hopefully with some loving care those alpacas will start the journey back to good health, imagine how those alpacas must feel right now to be standing in clean pastures, drinking clean water and eating good feed.



1 Comment »

  1. your comment that there will be more not less of the kind of thing surrounding these alpacas is a dead on bullseye, and unless those involved in the selling and breeding of alpacas AS AN ASSOCIATION take an active, and directly financed role in preparing for the increase in the prevention and intervention when/if needed it will be the death knoll for what right now is still a breeding industry.
    Perhaps THE best model in our country can be found within the dog breeding community. The best of the best of the best of the breeders within the different organizations and associations have whole components of their associations dedicated to education, assistance, and direct intervention and placement when needed.
    I would suggest good luck with that happening in the alpaca community.
    Horse people have been able to do it to a lesser extent than the dog breeding community, but it can be done for livestock.

    Comment by Gary — September 21, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

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