Sunday, August 31, 2008

KISS MI Alpaca

We attended a gathering of alpaca owners and breeders from around northern and central Michigan. The name that came out of it is KISS MI Alpacas (long story). We only created a name so we could start a yahoo group.

It was a great idea to get so many farms together. We met people who own 1 alpaca, and there was a couple there who have 175 alpacas! Some only have been in this business a few months, to ones who have been in it 20+ years. The couple with 175 alpacas have been in the business since the beginning (before AOBA was formed).

It was interesting and informative to get together. I have lots of thoughts racing around my head about the meeting. Not much I can verbalize yet, though a few things do pop to mind. One thing I did walk away from it with is that I think in some ways we are too hard on ourselves. We expect to have lush pastures and great alpaca products and so forth. Yet there are people who have been in this business for years and are struggling to get grass to grow and still have fiber in bags in their basement. It helped us put some things into perspective. Another thing that I had already been wondering is if we are overfeeding our alpacas. In their native region they do not get grain at all. In fact, they spend all day scaverenging for what little bit of grass they can find. Here we pen them up, and feed them grain and load them up with hay and want lush pastures.... So we are making some changes to our feeding schedule. One big thing is that we will eliminate the morning grain (that was for the pregnant girls only, but really Victoria does not need it, Kateri likely does not. Sancha may need something but we will try and see. If she loses weight we'll add in grain for her again). For the evening feeding most of the alpacas will only get fiber nutrients. The nursing and pregnant woman will get a little bit of grain. Of course we will slowly decrease this amount. And it will mean they will eat more hay. Plus with our reseeding the pastures they will not be able to roam out there so hay will be even more crucial.

The group plans to get together again. The next time will be in Grand Rapids, at Grand Alpacas, the home of the 175 alpacas. Now that should be very interesting! I'm excited about the group and what could come out of it.

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