A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 7, 2007

A Tree with Good Roots

I am a person who loves to read, books have been in my life for as long as I can remember.  As a child I would go to the public library every Saturday morning along with my two brothers and my father, there we would select our books to read for the week.  In addition to reading books I have learned to appreciate audio books, they are a great way to wile away the hours on a long road trip, or to listen to while skirting fleeces in the studio.

Currently I am listening to an audio book called The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly.  I first heard of Matthew Kelly when he participated in a movie called Living Luminaries and having watched that movie decided that I would like to read (or hear) more of what he has to say.  (There were several others in that movie whose words intrigued me and consequently my reading list has many new additions to it!)

As I listened to the audio book it struck me that part of what Matthew Kelly was saying could also be related to alpacas.  He speaks of how people, like trees, need good roots in order to be able to thrive.  Without good roots a tree will not grow well, without good roots it will not be able to draw what it needs from the soil to help it produce fruit.  If a tree is continually transplanted then the roots do not grow to be good roots and the tree does not thrive as well as the tree that does have good roots.

With alpacas I see the “good roots” as their home environment.  If an alpacas home environment is not stable and solid it becomes stressed and will not develop as well, if the alpacas home environment does not provide good nutrition the alpacas fleece and health will deteriorate over time, and if an alpaca is “continually transplanted” (i.e. frequently re-homed, entered in a demanding and frequent show schedule) it will not thrive as well.

Now I am not saying for one moment that we should never sell or show an alpaca, that would not make the alpaca industry at all successful, but in the long run it does pay alpaca breeders to consider the development and growth of “good roots” for their alpacas.   Constantly moving alpacas to different groups (whether it be at your farm or away) does cause them a certain amount of stress.  As a herd animal they love to hang out with their own group, and if you watch a herd of alpacas over a long period of time you will notice that they have definite sub-groups within the herd.

Likewise when a new alpaca arrives at a farm the new breeder should take into consideration that the alpaca is under considerable stress as it tries to find it’s place in the herd.  Some are more bold and adaptable than others but all will feel the stress of adjusting to the new herd.

As alpaca breeders I feel it is important that we do our best to ensure that our alpacas do have “good roots”, in doing so we will be benefit from a more bountiful alpaca harvest.


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