We started in 2004 with 8 alpacas and our business plan called for a slow growing of the herd by selective breeding. This would give us enough time to learn and gain experience for our retirement venture. However every once in a while the need of an alpaca or llama seemed to overwrite any artificial business plan. The “rescue” animals started to arrive.
Once again Anna and I were at one of her lessons, this time horse back riding. I usually waited around, chatting with other parents and the owner of the Riding School. Everybody knew each other casually and everybody knew about my little alpaca farm.
Then one evening the owner came back out to the barn all agitated looking for me. Her daughter was on the phone and she thought they just had bought an alpaca and didn’t know what to do. Back to the house we went and I talked on the phone to a very energetic young lady, I had never met before.
This young lady was very active in a horse rescue group. One of the places they observed, scouted and actively bought horses from was a livestock auctions. The animals at the auction sometimes would go to other farms, but sometimes they would go for meat. So they tried to re-home as many horses they could. She told me they saw this very scared alpaca in the auction ring. Nobody really wanted him, as nobody really knew what to do with “that funny looking horse”. He was running from one end of the ring to the other and looked utterly lost. Out of a whim one of her friends bit on him and long and behold they got him.
They could not transport him with the horses or bring him to any of their horse farms. They also realized they didn’t know anything about alpacas and did not want to treat him wrong. So she remembered her mom telling her about a women who brought her daughter to the farm for riding lessons who had an alpaca farm. Maybe they could get help from there!
We figured out on the phone that one of the ladies would take Peety home in her van (alpacas transport well in minivans). They took one seat out of the van. The other one was occupied by her son. So she took Peety (and her son) home and kept Peety in the garage over night. The next day I hooked up my little horse trailer, strapped my kinds in the car and drove for 2 hours to pick up an alpaca that needed a new home.
When I finally met Peety, I had to look twice. For once he had not been sheared in quite a while and he was dirty (unusual for alpacas). His proportions and behavior were a bit off as well. I put it all to not being properly cared for in a while and probably being traumatized from his past experience. I got him home safely and slowly integrated him into the herd.
What did we learn? Peety is not an alpaca, but a crossbreed of an alpaca and a llama, explaining his proportion and his behavior. After he got over his initial trauma he became very friendly. This trade goes clearly to the llama in his blood. Llamas are much more approachable then alpacas.
All this happened in 2008 and he is still with us in 2016. He likes to be with the herd but also likes to be by himself – a very clear llama behavior. Alpacas need a herd for their health and well being.