If you seek alpacas for pleasure, it is preferable to select them from a herd where the animals trust people.
If they have been handled correctly, or were involved in agility, they will undoubtedly be more relaxed and have developed some complicity with humans. If you have a certain demeanor with your animals or learn how to achieve it, you can establish an exceptional and very satisfactory relationship with them. The alpaca is an intelligent and kind animal, which learns quickly and responds well.
However, it can become extremely distant if it is treated harshly or become anxious if treated without respect. The alpaca is unlike our usual domestic animals and its psychology is different too, we must make a significant effort to observe and understand it and to respect its character and needs, though this may take time to achieve. Although affectionate, it does not generally like to be caught, cuddled or touched. It dislikes being restrained or forced to do something. If we treat it with respect and not merely as a pretty animal, we can gain its confidence towards us and establish a happy relationship, where it will strive to please us. If they are handled incorrectly they will become distrustful but, by changing your attitude towards them they will adapt and respond favorably to you.
Some alpacas have undergone six months quarantine before importation, and may have been handled roughly, making them extremely wary, even terrorized, toward people. While trying to change this bad experience, we found that their behavior and their reactions were completely different according to the way they were treated. The same animal, after hours of rehabilitation, could withstand being examined in a show ring by a judge and assistant without moving, yet struggled like a devil in another show one month later when an assistant having asked the owner first, tried to immobilize it by force. Alpacas that have suffered rough handling, perhaps resulting from importation, react extremely badly to force and restraint.
The conformation of the pet alpaca should be healthy and esthetic.
It is particularly important to ensure that major defects, likely to involve health issues or pain in old age, be avoided. These are mainly leg defects (the legs should be as straight as possible), dropped pasterns, prognathism or retro-prognathism (jaw defects).
The origin of these problems is usually either dietary or genetic.
Wool from your pet alpacas can be used in mattresses, for carpets and cushions or spun yourselves for knitting. We offer spinning courses.
The alpaca for breeding and show
The above criteria are obviously also valid for the show alpaca, but wool quality and conformation become much more important. If you choose to buy an adult animal to produce your show stock, you must examine the quality of its progeny.
To assess wool quality, in addition to the usual criteria (see chapter “the wool”); you must take into account the fact that it is particularly difficult to attain good wool on adult females producing milk and crias. It is all the more important, in their case, to select them on the quality of their progeny and the results of fleece tests if known.
The price of these animals is of course higher than that of a pet, and increases in proportion to the quality. (See “wool”).
The quality of French alpacas is improving steadily and the best bloodlines here have now reached a level comparable with that of our European neighbours.
There are currently in France prestigious Australian, Canadian and Peruvian lines and UK bred animals from famous lines have also been imported which gives us a sufficiently broad bases to select from. Our association can help you in the selection and importation of alpacas. (Contact the president).
However, breeders having animals of this quality generally reserve them for their own use, particularly if they are females. Nevertheless it is possible to acquire animals from the same family, who are genetically close to the champions. They will obviously be more likely to produce an equivalent quality for you, perhaps even better than the animals retained by the breeder.
The quality of progeny produced on your farm; particularly the fineness of wool and limb straightness is also dependant on the food you provide. Good nourishment will enable them to fulfill their genetic potential..