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What to look for when purchasing alpacas

Updated: Oct 23, 2023


We hope our previous blog on ‘How many alpacas should I have?’ helped you decide on the quantity and genders of alpacas you intend to keep, as well as providing you with different budget options. So, let’s discuss next steps…



Selecting your alpacas

Ideally, the alpacas you purchase should be registered with the British Alpaca Society and the owner should be able to provide you with a copy of their health records, including details of any recent vaccinations and treatments. We highly recommend you visit your potential alpacas in person before purchasing to assess their health, conformation and temperament.


Conformation (the shape and structure of the alpaca) should be at the top of your list to look at when choosing an alpaca, as this will indicative of the alpaca's general health, longevity and breeding potential. Below is a brief summary of 'good' and 'bad' conformation, or see the full Breed Standard from the British Alpaca Society here.



Good Conformation:

  • Head shape - wedge shaped

  • Teeth - lower teeth meet upper pad

  • Neck - no dip, smoothly curves into back

  • Back - flat and straight

  • Legs - straight from front view

  • Feet - sound

  • Skin - healthy & supple

  • Fleece quality - good covering, fineness and crimp (their fleece will naturally coarsen as they age)


Poor Conformation:

  • Head shape - Short or long muzzle

  • Teeth - overbite, underbite, overcrowding or missing teeth

  • Neck - ‘U neck’ (where the neck dips down before heading up and along the back)

  • Back - humped, sway (dipped) or too short/long

  • Legs - Sickle-hocked or cow-hocked legs or legs too close to each other (this indicates a narrow chest)

  • Feet - very overgrown and twisted toenails may indicate good husbandry has not been carried out

  • Skin - dry/flaky/broken/inflamed skin could all be indications of a skin problem and can require a lot of time and effort to put right

  • Fleece quality - brittle/patchy fleece can be indicative of poor nutrition or underlying health complaints


A note on blue-eyed whites

A special mention should be given to blue-eyed white alpacas. The vast majority of blue-eyed white alpacas (around 80%) are deaf and are typically considered as carrying a fault. If you are seeking a friendly alpaca that you do not intend to breed, you do not need to worry about blue-eyed white alpacas, as they can happily live their lives as part of a herd. However, if you do intend to breed your alpacas, we recommend that you avoid purchasing blue-eyed whites.


When can a baby alpaca leave it's Mum?

Baby alpacas, known as cria, should be at least 5 months old before they leave their Mum, known as the dam.


 

Learn how to look after alpacas


This 95 page E-Guide is packed full of information for new and prospective alpaca keepers, covering Alpaca 101, Requirements, Diet & Pasture Management, Husbandry Tasks, Disease & Parasites and an Introduction to Breeding & Cria Care. Download upon purchase so you can dive straight in! For the full contents list and to get your copy, click the image below.



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