I now have all of my alpacas listed on Alpacastreet, instead of Alpacanation. Half the money, the same exposure. And things had gotten a bit stagnant. Time for a change. Anyhoooo, I was reading an article posted on Alpacastreet, and really wished it had been out 12 years ago when we bought our first alpacas. It is "The Ten Commandments For New Alpaca Breeders", or something like that. You can follow this link to read the entire piece.
When we decided to buy alpacas, we visited about 6 farms. We bought two from a small breeder who we ended up agisting with for the next two years. Then we bought 4 from a very large breeder, who also was very close to us. Now I am going to share a story of what happened with one of our alpacas we bought from the "big boys".
One of the alpacas we bought was a cute, friendly little white suri, pregnant with her first cria. She had a little nick on her upper lip, which we were told was an injury. We didn't care. Her fiber was to die for, and she was so sweet and pretty. Being newbies, we did not know that deformed facial features were a sign of more serious genetic problems. How would we? Whenever we asked questions of this breeder, we were told "No Brainer". They are so easy, they take care of themselves!!
Mattie gave birth, late in the day, to her first cria, who lasted maybe three hours. The big breeder gave us a free breeding to the herdsire of our choice, and a year later, Mattie delivered an adorable pure black female cria. She lasted about three weeks. We knew she was frail, and was not thriving. She succumbed to Clostridium type A.
By the time Mattie had her third cria, we had the herd at our own farm, and had more control over the cleanliness, environment, and herd management. We were by then certain that those were the issues responsible for the crias not surviving. The third cria was sensational! A white male, dripping with luster and total fiber coverage. We named him Majestic Snow. We had been advised from some top Suri breeders to show him in the show ring, and were preparing to do just that. We had the vet come out to do health checks before going to the show. The vet looked over at Majestic and said, "Oh, a wry face." What? What's that? Oh, it's genetic, and an indication of more serious genetic problems." We were devastated. By that time, Mattie had already been bred, and was due to have another cria that summer.
Cria number 4 was born with her right, front leg fused in the bent position at the shoulder and could not stand to nurse. I bottle fed her through the night, and had her put down the next morning.
Okay, time to contact the Big Boys. What can you do for us? Well, they could not afford to give me another suri in exchange for Mattie, but they could exchange her for a like quality huacaya. By this time we felt as if we were star crossed in the suri end, and had decided to no longer breed suris. So, this was okay by us. I took a trip to their farm to pick out a new female. With over 1000 alpacas, they made three available for me to chose from. Three? One had a terrible jaw infection, and another one could not be found that day. So, I was left with a white maiden, due to have her first cria in a few months. She was sway backed and her fiber was rather coarse, but we had fine fibered males to breed to her to improve these characteristics.
I can handle just about any birthing situation or dystocia on my own, but I had to have a vet out on an emergency call to deliver her cria. It's pretty hard to tell at that point what is going on, but it seemed she had a persistent hymen. The delivery was very difficult, and resulted in sewing up tears in her vaginal wall. She had a healthy, adorable appaloosa female cria.
The saga continues. As the cria grew and came to breeding age, she would not allow a male to get close to her. We tried hormones, we tried several different males. She was having none of it. Finally, we had a vet check her out, and her vagina does not attach to the uterus.
Would anyone out there like a non breeding female?
I have been trying to get a response out of the Big Boys for four months now, to no avail. The thing is, I don't want another alpaca. We are trying to downsize. I'd just like an acknowledgement and an apology at this time.
Edit on June 11, 2010: Since I cannot get an apology, or even a response from Alpacas of America, I don't feel bad for posting this about them.
Bottom line: Buyer Beware. Buy from a small breeder who will give you full support after your purchase.