Nickelby At Darnum

So you have some rescued alpacas - what's next?

Angela Betheras

Alpacas are absolutely wonderful animals, they are kind, gentle, make you smile just to look at them and they generally enjoy being part of your family and there is not much to fault.  Heck that is why so many people want a couple in their paddock.  I am told it is to keep the grass down but as a total devotee of these beautiful animals, I know better.

However sometimes people have alpacas and their circumstances change and they can no longer look after them, hey that happens to fully fledged breeders as well so it is nothing to be ashamed about.  So in all good intentions they set about finding new homes and this is where you come in, you are the new found home but wait, you don't know anything about alpacas, what do they eat? what do they need? how often do you shear them? do they need injections and if so which ones and when?  These are all questions breeders are really hoping you are asking and seeking answers for because if you are not, then your rescued alpacas aren't going to be living a very happy life at all and that is not good for any one.

So ideally before you bring home your alpacas and if not then, then very soon after, you need to set about arming yourself with as much information as you can.  You obviously start with the person who is passing the alpacas onto you but in many cases they could be trying to find them a new home as they no longer care for the alpaca so always best to seek a second opinion.

I am often asked why alpacas? and part of the answer is that I met the alpaca people and decided they were my kind of tribe, they were friendly people, loved their animals, knew lots and I felt at home so my suggestion would be to start with one of us. If by some slim chance you don't get answers then ask another one of us but I am pretty sure that won't be necessary.

Yes alpacas are pretty easy to care for but they do need shearing every year late Spring, early Summer so you do need to find an alpaca shearer, they do need medications mostly via injections so you have to be comfortable with that or are willing to pay a vet or know a farmer who can help. Those blasted toe nails need to be cut at least once during the year and that will take 2 people with good backs and you will need to do regular health checks and be prepared to pay the occasional vet bill and in return they will love you but most probably from a distance.  You are not bringing home a new dog or cat, these are farm animals who live in a paddock, not your lounge room but they do need some form of shelter and protection from the wind so they will need a shed or shelter in the paddock.

One final point if you are gifted or are looking to buy alpacas, stud boys are not a bonus.  Alpacas don't come in "breeding pairs". Stud boys need to be kept separate from your girls but they can't be on their own so they need a weather for company.  One of your girls might have a boy which has to leave the girls before 12 months of age but if you have a stud boy he might not like that boy so you could have difficulties.  If you are gifted an entire male and you know your family trees then by all means go ahead and do matings but then seriously consider either selling him on or having him weathered.  Your lives will be so much easier.

I can promise you a wonderful life with your new found friends and you will find it hard to imagine what your life would be without them but remember whilst we all say they are easy to look after, that doesn't mean you can just leave them and not look after them at all.  Even the best of us have needs!

So find a tribe of supporters, ensure your property is alpaca ready, have all your information at hand and then all that is left to do is to enjoy your new family.