In my experience, alpacas should be round like teddy bears. These alpacas were skinny right behind the shoulder blades, and heavily sloped across the ribs. The nice, cushy fleeces don't hide the fact that these guys have bones showing on top. Despite having lost Marco (my first rescue alpaca) during the heavy snows of 2010, I couldn't just let these guys stay on that "farm." So I agreed to two - no, three - gelded males who were delivered a few hours later. Because I agreed to take three, the rescuing-farmer took the other two as well as the two he had originally planned to take, so that "farm" is now clear of all alpacas.
I keep putting "farm" in quotes because the place was really a dump. The driveway and yard were lined with trash and detritus. The guy kept talking about how everything was three years behind, and how he didn't have the pasture cleared yet, or the barn built yet, or anything else really established for these animals. - I don't know why he bought them if he didn't have a place to put them! - The ground in the field where the alpacas were was 1/3 clay*, 1/3 trees, and 1/3 old hay from where he had been feeding them by dumping hay straight on the ground. The barn where he fed them grain had only two walls erected. He ran them back and forth from that barn to the pasture through a sea of churned-up mud that might at one time have been a nice pasture, but was overgrazed or over-pigged when his fences came down and his pigs bred from four to fourteen and he didn't get around to selling them when they were little. (He told me the story without any shame.)
* Alpacas, like many other larger animals - llamas, horses - like to roll in the dust. The problem is that this guy didn't have pasture or real dirt, so they were rolling in clay. In the photo below, that lovely cream colored alpaca? Yeah, he's actually white under that coloring.
Fortunately, in between when I left that farm and when the alpacas were delivered, the rescuing-farmer had taken them to his house for full health checkups: deworming, teeth trimming, toe trimming, and weighing. I'm so grateful to have a baseline to start with those three... and a really good veterinarian as well as this rescue family to call. The rescuing-farmer left me all of his contact information and told me to call him whenever I needed anything, including reassurance. His family is very supportive about this, and understands that I'm unsure about taking care of these alpacas. I'm sure that I can do better for them than where they were, but I don't want to lose them out of ignorance anyway.
And a note for reference - Mycomplasma Haemolamae in Alpacas
- This could have been what killed Marco, not regular worms.