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 1. Alpacas 101: Getting Started
 Seriously Considering The Alpaca Lifestyle
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1 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2014 :  6:01:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello there!

My name is Amanda, I'm a California native and I'm getting married in October. My husband to be and I are on planning on moving to Arizona where we can purchase a few acres of land (get away from the city) and kind of homestead. I have my mind set on raising a couple of alpacas, maybe not breeding or show yet.

Well, we're planning on stopping by a local Alpaca farm during our honeymoon (And I'm sooo excited!) and possibly scout out my first alpaca.

Question is, as a newbie I heard I should go for a young gelded male to start. Is this true? Should I be concerned with the possibility of Berserk Male syndrome?

What should we watch out for when buying an alpaca?

Along the lines of shears, what would you recommend?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


4103 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2014 :  7:03:57 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Amanda. One very popular way of starting out with alpacas is to buy males to "learn on." It's nice when you can find geldings, but since gelding is a veterinary surgical procedure in alpacas, it can add to the cost, so many farms don't geld unless an animal is unruly or exceptionally aggressive with other males. You don't normally have to be concerned with Berserk Male Syndrome unless you're dealing with a bottle baby who grew up not learning appropriate boundaries. There are not many alpacas that can really be called Berserk.

Or you may find someone selling some older females for a very reasonable price. You don't need to start with males, although they're usually less expensive and readily available.

Probably the most important thing to watch out for is to make sure you're dealing with someone reputable and who is able and willing to mentor you for the first few years until you're feeling comfortable with all the routine and not-so-routine tasks involved. It's helpful if that farm is fairly nearby your new home so they can be hands-on help if needed, although many farms do a very good job of mentoring long-distance. Most of us are always available by phone, e-mail and certainly on FaceBook, lol, and we're always willing to answer questions, make suggestions and help in any way we can. Make sure that you verify that any seller actually owns or has the right to sell any alpaca you want to buy. There have been many dispersals over the past few years that have resulted in alpacas being sold, traded and given away time after time and record have gotten lost or were withheld, so make sure that any animal you want to ultimately breed comes WITH an ARI registration certificate that can be transferred to your name.

I gather from your Forum Name (Yarnie) that you are a fiber fan, so I expect that you will want to use the fleece produced by your alpacas. Make sure you learn all you can about their fiber before you buy, and buy alpacas that will give you the best possible fiber for the purposes you intend to use it. There are lots of places to learn, and I would suggest that you join FaceBook (if you aren't already on there) and join some of the fiber-related groups to learn. There are literally hundreds of spinners, weavers, knitters and crocheters willing to share techniques, discuss fiber characteristics for specific applications and teach one another how to get the most from the fiber they're working with.

I would also suggest that you ask your mentor to examine any alpaca that you are not buying directly from them to ensure that it is healthy and well-enough trained to be manageable by beginners. Feel free to come here to ask questions or share information.

Congratulations on your marriage, your new home and your decision to investigate the alpaca industry!

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
The Pastel Paca at LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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2830 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2014 :  09:00:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello Amanda,

It sounds like you are starting a really exciting new life, and I too want to reiterate what Judith said, spend time looking at as many farms and animals as you can before purchasing. It is also helpful to get a good idea of how to set up your farm, and there are many here who can help you with that. The right set-up will make life on the farm so much easier.

A mentoring farm is an extremely valuable thing to have, and I was lucky in that I had a farm close by where I learned the basics of alpaca care. I had no livestock experience, knew nothing about hay, and all that stuff, so make sure you get someone to mentor you, who is not just interested in selling you animals, but also deeply cares for the kind of homes into which their animals go.

Find a reputable veterinarian who has experience with camelids and local farms will be helpful in that respect. Attend some alpaca shows if you can, because most people there will be ready to answer any questions and will also be willing to teach you.

Most of all, be realistic. Farming is hard physical work, and although alpacas are easy to care for, there is work that needs to be done all seven days, not just during the week. Think about the climate in which you and the animals will be living. They do not tolerate excessive heat very well, make sure you will have enough water, that your terrain is conducive to pastures and fencing.

Learn all you can about what you can do with their fiber. I am trying to process most of my fiber myself, and while it is very satisfying to see products take shape under your hands, it takes time.

I have a veterinarian who is also a teacher, not in the school way, but in working with his clients. He shows me many ways I can save money, without sacrificing the safety and health of the animals. Those kinds of vets are hard to find, so keep that in mind.

Before you have your first birth on the farm, be sure to attend a neo-natal clinic, where you will learn many techniques to help you overcome birthing problems. These kinds of events can be found on the events pages of several alpaca sites, such as AlpacaNation. I found that to be one of the best seminars ever, aside from one other one, how to do your own fecal exams on your animals.

Good luck, and you will love alpacas, if you love animals like I do. I can' imagine my life without them, and I have been doing this for eleven years now. However, I am still learning.

Wishing you a long and happy married life.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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1844 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2014 :  11:17:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Judith and Christiane have both given excellent advice. I really can't say it too strongly: if possible, buy for someone close that you trust. We have had to help several people who thought they were getting a "great deal" who ended up with no support. Since you are thinking of Arizona, be sure that there is a hay supply that you can afford. Locating a vet that knows alpacas or is willing to learn is a real asset.
You have started the best way....asking questions. There are also great books to read: Eric Hoffman and Marty McGee would be a good start. Best of luck.

Robin Alpert
Alpacas 'R Diamonds
15163 W 323rd
Paola, KS 66071
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469 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2014 :  2:29:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit renfarms's Homepage  Reply with Quote
You have gotten some excellent advice to consider. I would add one other important point. Please make sure that you purchase 2, and preferably 3 alpacas. These animals have not been domesticated as long as horses and cattle, and have a much stronger "prey" instinct, which means that they are very nervous when not kept in a "herd". This nervousness translates into stress, which then translates into a weakened immune system and resulting health problems, like ulcers and an increased susceptibility to parasites, illness, etc.
Good luck and enjoy the learning process!

Bill and Louise Goebel
Renaissance Farms
McArthur, Ohio 45651
(740) 596-1468
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2967 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2014 :  2:26:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
While I agree with what you have been told I personally believe that you should look to the future! What I mean by that is when you make your first purchase of alpaca keep in mind that if you decide that alpacas are not for you, how hard will it be to get rid of them. Even if you have just 2 or 3 you will need to do something or just keep paying for their upkeep. If you buy males or geldings then have a strong knowledge of fleece and get the very best you can afford.


Bob & Vicki Blodgett
Suri Land Alpaca Ranch
10371 N 2210 Road
Clinton, Oklahoma 73601
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1 Posts

Posted - 11/26/2014 :  10:25:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The alpaca lifestyle, we just recently jumped in ourselves. We had been studying up for years and finally bought enough property this year to buy our alpacas. The biggest thing I hadnt thought of is how much traffic it brought to our house. We have yet to hang a farm sign or advertise but every weekend we have someone dropping by. Be ready to make some friends!



Figure 8 Farm
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2830 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2014 :  09:20:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Where are you located? You are right, there is nothing quite like alpacas..

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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57 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2014 :  05:14:31 AM  Show Profile  Visit lagrandmere's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello Amanda,

We have had alpacas for 8 years now and I agree with everything that has been said, especially the post about visitors! Our alpacas are a novelty as most folks over here have never seen one before, so the visitors just keep coming! We love it as it has helped us integrate into a new country and get the alpacas used to seeing lots of different people.

We started with a little herd someone was selling and we fell for them all, retrospect, we should have been more selective but, those gorgeous eyes and gentle humms just pull you in and we couldn't bear to split the herd and take only the best animals! You must try to be tough and buy the best you can afford...decide beforehand what colours, sex, ages etc so that you don't get wooed and persuaded to change your plan, when you visit farms! One thing I would always ask is to see all the animals you are interested in buying handled; ask the breeders to lift their feet, check teeth etc and watch how the animal behaves, as you will have to do this regularly so only buy alpacas that you know you can handle. We have one male that was a monster to handle when he arrived, so we had to geld him and do a great deal of work but now he's ok, he'll never be easy but we can manage him now that he trusts us. As well as his temerament, his conformation is very poor and we should never have bought him...we learn through our mistakes but you can profit from ours!

Good luck in your future life and your purchase of alpacas and I look forward to hearing how you get on!

Judi Bourton
La Grand-Mere
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65 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2016 :  7:11:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit cralpacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Sorry, but I just got the chance to read your topic. Well, if you have not already purchased and started your farm in Arizona. I have another bit of info you may need to consider as I was looking to move to Arizona to be close to my Mom. Be sure that your farm is at lease at a minimum of a 4,000 foot elevation (above sea level). For example, if you plan on living near Phoenix, your alpacas have a high risk of contracting "Valley Fever" which could be deadly and/or costly to medicate them on a daily basis. Valley Fever is caused by spores being disturbed by construction or high winds or sand storms that the animals would inhale and are then unable to expel the spores. This can happen to other animals as well as people.

I would recommend you try Prescott Valley area.

I would be happy to help you with more should you need it. Just feel free to contact me.

Cheryl Palmentera
C R Alpacas, Inc.
10045 Bainbridge Road
Auburn Township, OH 44023
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4 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2016 :  7:53:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome Amanda. : )

Alpacas are work but they are also a lot of fun. Just thought I would add that alpacas, being herd animals, would do best in pairs. If you get one, it might be best to get a buddy to go along with it.

Best of luck with all your plans!

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10 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2016 :  3:18:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Everyone is offering great a fairly new alpaca owner...just over a year...there is and will be a lot to learn along the way. Personally, I would look for alpaca owners who are needing to get rid of them due to age, death in the family, etc. We have accumulated quite a few this way and it helps the previous owners while you can get a great deal on quality animals. My husband is mostly interested in I am more interested in personality :-) But, we both seek great wool quality. I would first choose 2-3 males as potential herdsires and then go from there. Best of luck!!
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