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Author Topic: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!  (Read 8538 times)

bumpkins

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Petherton, Somerset
  • Don't wait for your ship to come in-swim out to it
Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« on: June 03, 2013, 03:38:43 pm »
Hello Everyone
We've recently joined the site and learnt so much from it.  Everyone is so friendly and helpful.
We are considering keeping Alpacas and are just about to move to a place in Caithness that has 10 acres and is a former Llama farm.  We've done nothing else for the past few weeks but read up on Alpacas and there is such mixed opinion out there that we wondered if anyone here has some advice.
Some say that they are wonderful, and others that they are a nightmare and really difficult.  We don't mind anything that needs time and work, but would hate to make a wrong decision with something like this. 
Can anyone set us straight?  We were thinking of starting with a Wether and 2 females.  How far we would take it is totally dependent on how we get on.  thank you - Ben and Cathy

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 03:56:12 pm »
I think it depends if you want them as themselves or as a potential business. In themselves, they are fine as pets, and good attractions for eg a B$B business, or for using fleece for spinning.  But as a business,  I think the only people to make money are at the top of the pyramid of sellers of breeding stock, the ones lower down coming in later I don't think make any money.


NB one other thing to consider is neighbours with cattle, camelids like llamas and alpacas are v susceptible to bovine TB but the tests available aren't great at detecting it in them. And the government stats tend to be understating the stats by counting 1 herd rather than with cattle per individual. One herd had over 300 alpacas slaughterd. So make sure any stock you get has at least had the available tests, fallible and voluntary tho they are, and ideally come from low or no BTB areas of the country. If only for your own health, since camelid habits (alpacas contrary to rumour do sometimes spit) make it a lot more likely that you could catch BTB from them than from a cow. Check out this blog/ website for lots of info
http://www.alpacatb.com/


Personally I think sheep are much more useful and versatile, if only cos you can eat them! (tho I did hear that with the downturn in the market a place in cornwall is selling alpaca burgers!)

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 06:03:07 pm »
I think this is my point of view too, ie what are they for?

If pets or tourist attractions, great.

But anything else:

You'd breed then to sell to people to breed them......(and only when you'd got any good and when your name was known!).
What would you do with all the boys, who aren't good enough to breed from - if they were sheep you'd eat these.
Fleece? Can you process it yourself, ie spin it and make things from it? No money to be made at that cos of the time involved but if you're not trying to pay yourselves for time, might be possible?

Generally I think the market has dropped out of them for the reasons above.

Plus there's the TB issue.

Roxy

  • Joined May 2009
  • Peak District
    • festivalcarriages.co.uk
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 12:16:23 pm »
Some years ago, alpacas were in great demand.  Every horse or dispersale sale I go to, I get offered free alpacas or llamas!!!
 
I had a llama to guard our free range poultry.  Had him 5 years and did a good job with the hens.  Unfortunately for whatever reason he turned nasty, and attacked a neighbour over the wall.  I had him destroyed, and would never have a llama again. I am in a TB area, and it was constantly on my mind about that while I had him.  Alpacas  may be more docile, but again, there is the TB problem.
 
Unless you had a big herd, its unlikely you would make money. Someone opened a llama trekking place near us, where you walked with your llama, but think that closed down, and even when it was open it never seemed busy.

bumpkins

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Petherton, Somerset
  • Don't wait for your ship to come in-swim out to it
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 01:25:53 pm »
Thank you all for your input.  It makes very sobering reading! 
Fortunately, they wouldn't be for income as I work full time as an artist.  We're mainly interested in them regarding handling and character and their lawn mowing abilities!
Fortunately there is no TB in the area and neither is there in our prospective breeder's area.  We're  still very much in two minds about them and really appreciate and value your opinions.
thanks  ~Ben and Cathy

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 03:42:53 pm »
The other thing to mention as I wasn't aware until a recent alpaca thread on a farming forum is that while sometimes people have them to guard their sheep against predators, apparently it isn't unknown for male alpacas to try to serve sheep ewes and this very often results in the death of the sheep concerned :-((


Not necessarily something relevant to your plans but it wasn't an issue I had heard of so thought it would be wise to mention it in the alpacas pros and cons discussion.


Have you considered angora goats? Only say that as they are a little smaller and generally from the ones I've met have lovely temperaments, and lovely fibre for working with, they may also be worth considering.

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 07:12:53 pm »
I think if I wanted something sweet, easy to handle, with law mowing capabilities, I'd have Ryeland sheep. Very laid back by nature, let alone if you tame them, not too big, cute and teddy-bear looking, especially the coloured ones.

Orinoco

  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 08:19:08 pm »
Hi

I am in the same position, I want alpaca's, would love to breed them and make money, but know too much to believe this is a possibility for me as I only have 4 acres, people are branching out now, offering their expertise to others on vaccination, foot trimming, birthing etc., as a way to make money, some are making it pay but you need to know your market and be either cheaper than the rest or better and market yourself cleverly but the best you can hope for is to cover your costs even if you are very successful.

We are still getting some but as an attraction and to keep the grass down and I am hoping to learn to spin and then offer craft classes to holiday makers, I believe there is still a great deal of interest in them and people will pay to have a session helping out with the alpaca's, having their photos taken etc. and buy the things made from the fibre of the cute alpaca they have just seen.

I have heard more and more reports of people been unable to sell them giving them away but not in my area that I am currently aware of, there are a lot more alpaca's in the south west (which is also a big TB area which is a shame as this is a no go area for me).

Advice that we have had recently is if you like the cute young ones look for cria about to be weaned as the breeders may appreciate them going to live somewhere else at this point (and a better deal could be struck), or if you are not intending breeding consider young intact males (as long as there are no females around they Apparently get along fine), these are much cheaper and you get a better quality animal with better fibre for a lot less, they are not meant to be gelded until they are two (this does though leave the cost of gelding with you or you can buy older gelded males). 

My thinking is also that if you get them young you can bring them on as respectful friendly animals, if they are not confident or friendly adults when you buy them I understand they rarely get there even if treated gently or if they do, it takes a long time.

I would love to go along to a few breeders and see what they have, but I don't want to offend them if I don't like their animals and I only want ones that I personally consider cute with good breeding and a good fleece.  I would still like to breed a few as a way of increasing my herd slightly but if I went for intact males and had them gelded at 2 this would still be cheaper than the stud fees and I could see what I was getting unlike the unpredictable nature of breeding, all in all I could have a small herd for the price of one female and still have the cute experience of the cria bouncing around the field together.

By the way I also bought Ouessant sheep, very friendly and easy to handle due to their small stature, they come running whenever they see anyone who might feed them and happy to eat out of your hands so are perfect for petting, also seem to be pretty sought after as a breeding option.

K





 

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2013, 08:32:40 pm »
are alpacas still a tb risk in areas of scotland that are tb free? iv always quite fancied a couple but we are in a high beef cattle area so would get crucified if brought tb to the area.

bplegs

  • Joined Aug 2010
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2013, 07:19:03 am »
Hallo, we have four alpacas and to be honest they are relatively easy to keep. We use ours to keep on top of the smaller paddocks but as we have entire males as well as young females, we need to keep them separated as we are not ready to breed them just yet!
Like any other livestock, they require attention, but it is minimum. The girls will come up to you and eat out of your Hand. The boys are a little shyer. They are lovely though.


SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2013, 08:56:25 am »
I've seen quite a few comments along the lines of, "We're in a TB area, so that would concern me [mean I wouldn't have alpacas]", but only shygirl has made the point that if you bring alpacas from a TB area into a TB-free area, you are putting all your farming neighbours' livelihoods at risk.

So if you are in a TB-free (Scotland) or TB4 (in England, comes to the same thing) area, and are determined to get camelids, please please please make every effort to source them from a TB-free area, so that you at least minimise the risk to yourself and your neighbours.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2013, 09:19:10 am »
are alpacas still a tb risk in areas of scotland that are tb free? iv always quite fancied a couple but we are in a high beef cattle area so would get crucified if brought tb to the area.


Yes, if you buy them from somewhere that isn't TB free. And even if you do, if any of their stock has done, the TB could be in the flock. TB testing would be a comfort, but the test is pretty poor at detecting TB in camelids, unlike cattle where it is reasonable.


Personally if I had any beef cattle neighbours, I wouldnt feel able to get camelids unless they herd they came from was in TB area and every alpaca in that herd had recently tested clear of TB (since over the herd it would give a decent indication), and I double fenced the boundaries. But TBH I would personally not do it as I would think as you feel that it would be a risk and a worry for my neighbours and I like them and don't want to cause them stress. Plus I'm not sure how many herds in TB free areas regularly test their alpacas for TB! It's not compulsory like with cattle. Also I would be worried about catching TB from the alpacas myself, like poor Diane Summers (google for the full story) who despite being treated for months for the TB she caught from hers (proven by testing it was the alpacas who gave it to her) is now facing possibly having part of her lung removed :-((

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Some honest opinions about Alpacas needed.....Please!
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2013, 11:01:06 am »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-17852475

http://www.bovinetb.co.uk/article.php?article_id=46

its an interesting read. i wonder if they have tb in their native country or if they are more suseptable as they are "foreign" country.
there are local herds around here and also alot of badgers.  infact when we showed our cow a few years back, there was a pen of alpacas 10 metres away.  :o

 

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