On Thursday, a fellow goat owner contacted me asking if I wanted an alpaca. I responded with "maybe, but I need more details." The next thing I knew, my phone was ringing with a "Thanks so much for taking the boys!" kind of call. As the story went, a fiber acquaintance of mine from way back, who sold her farm and moved out of state, had learned that one of the people who bought her [gorgeous!] animals wasn't treating them properly, and she was trying to organize a long-distance rescue. This morning, I went down south by 45 minutes to meet up with the farmer who was trying to take care of this other guy's alpacas. He and his daughter were headed to this farm to pick up the two males that they were taking, and pulling fecals on the other five.
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.
||Rescue alpacas, first day (in the snow), Feb 4, 2012
Here are the three boys, enjoying a big pasture and looking next door at their neighboring goats. See how skinny the one on the left is? That's not a good thing. They have their own pasture and barn area, lots of hay, and good food. I hope they thrive now.
And a note for reference - Mycomplasma Haemolamae in Alpacas
- This could have been what killed Marco, not regular worms.