A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 20, 2009

Choosing a Mentor Is As Important As Choosing Your Alpaca


Jenny and Clarissa

Jenny and Clarissa

When it comes to getting started in the alpaca business, whether you are buying breeding stock, fiber alpacas or performance and obstacle alpacas a good mentor is invaluable.


I cannot say enough good things about our mentors who have helped us on our journey into the world of alpacas.  They were always willing to share information and provided us with guidance along the way, they were also good judges of when to stand back and let us figure things out for ourselves.  Without them we would have undoubtedly had a much harder route on the way to success in our alpaca business.


Compared to when we first purchased alpacas there are many more alpaca farms to choose from these days.  Some have been in the business for many years, others are relatively new to the business and each farm will have its own “personality” so as to say.  It is very easy for someone to set up an impressive website and create a certain impression of them or their business, but when it comes to your needs a website probably will not be able to help you as much as a good alpaca mentor can.


While a lot of alpaca sales are made over the Internet I strongly advise new alpaca owners to physically go to the farms that they are considering purchasing from.  By doing so you will get a much better idea of the quality of the alpacas on the farm, the level of care of the alpacas, the knowledge of the farm owners and whether your personalities gel or clash.   There is a lot to learn about raising alpacas and I always maintain that you should purchase from a farm who not only has alpacas that suit your needs but who you feel you can communicate with freely and well.


I still remember when we were first looking to purchase alpacas, we received a very impressive video and brochure from one farm, the alpacas in the farm brochure looked beautiful, the description of the farm and its owners sounded great, but when I telephoned the farm to ask a question the response I got from the owner was not a good one.  He sounded irritated by my question and seemed to imply that it was something that everyone should know (I later learned that it was something quite specific to his farm).  The response to my communication with that farm was enough for me to decide that I did not want to do business with them.   How could I learn about alpacas from them when they were not responsive to a simple question?  To this day I still have not done business with that farm, they have some spectacular alpacas but I just cannot bring myself to do business with someone who was condescending and rude to a potential customer.


So when you are looking to buy alpacas, take a close look at the owners too.  Are they approachable?  Are they willing to share information freely?  Do they have a good reputation within the alpaca community (you can always ask for references from their customers or other breeders)?   What is their knowledge base?  Have they only been in the business a short while and have little knowledge themselves or have they years of experience that they can share with you?


Take the time to get to know the farm you are purchasing from, you will soon get a feel for how they do business and whether they are a good fit for you.  I have often said that you need to feel comfortable enough that should you have an alpaca emergency at 2 a.m. and need to call them then you would do so.  You would hope not to have that situation, but it might happen and you might need to talk to someone who can share their experience and guide you in what to do, or direct you to someone who can help you.


Going back to the subject of selecting performance and obstacle alpacas, a good alpaca breeder will know which alpacas in their herd have good potential as performance and obstacle alpacas.  They will guide you through your selection rather than just sell you an alpaca that maybe looks cute but is not really a good choice for showing in performance and obstacle.  A good alpaca breeder will want you to be successful in your endeavor and will work with you to help make that happen.


There are many wonderful alpaca breeders who are more than happy to mentor their clients, whether the client is spending several thousand dollars or a thousand dollars.    If you choose your alpaca mentor with care and consideration you will most likely discover that not only do they teach you and help you in whatever aspect of alpaca ownership you choose they will also become firm friends in the process.



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