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Old 12-30-2006, 02:35 PM   #1
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Raise your own animals?
Is there anyone here who raises their own animals, particularly alpacas? Sometimes I think I would like to do that, but just wondered if there's enough time in life to take care of them, shear, spin, and still make the sweater before you die. Which is the least trouble...sheep or alpacas? How about the easiest to shear, wash, and card? Would they eat so much that it's more cost effective to buy the roving?
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:38 PM   #2
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I know alpacas are smarter than sheep. (Of course, most animals are smarter than sheep!) My grandmother has llamas, which are similar in behavior, and they're pretty low-maintenance. As long as you can find a vet that will treat them, they aren't difficult animals to raise.

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Old 12-30-2006, 03:38 PM   #3
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I haven't had first hand experience but one of my friends had alpacas and from watching what she went through with them I'd say buy the roving!

There's so much to caring for a living thing that you don't think about when you first get that furry little (in this case, not so little) creature. Food and general care is one thing but I can remember several middle of the night emergencies with sick alpacas and many midnight visits from the vet.

Some of her alpacas mated every now and then (oops, how did he get in that pen???) and there was the pregnancy and birth to deal with. She was happy to see them go when she finally sold the last one.

My friend didn't even knit from her alpacas. Someone she knew came and sheared them and cleaned, carded and spun wool for her. Just the alpaca care alone seemed like a full time job.

I know there are probably some of you who would disagree and like I said, they weren't mine so my opinion is second hand.

I have been told that you can spin your own yarn from alpaca bunnies and they seem to require a lot less care than alpacas.

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Old 12-30-2006, 04:29 PM   #4
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I know nothing about caring from sheep OR alpacas. I live directly on a levee of a large river, and several times a year the sheep are brought through to graze the grass on the levee.

So all I can say is:

Peeeeyuuh! They are smelly! And loud! And dumb! They stay for a couple of days, then are moved further down. We're always glad to see them go, because 24 hours a day of "baaaaah! baaaaaah!" right outside the house drives us - and the cats - nuts.

Still trying to convince Henry the cat that knitting is a spectator sport!
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:36 PM   #5
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I raised alpacas and llamas for 5 years in South Florida, and continue to do so in South America. The major problems in Florida were the heat & humidity and parasite control. The animals visibly suffered from the former, and I suffered from the latter. I know that San An has more of a 4 season climate than does S. Florida, but I think of it as being hot and humid too. Breeders in Colorado, Oregon, Rocky Mountain States, and Vermont have no similar problems. I stopped breeding in Florida cuz I felt that the climate imposed an unwarranted and unecessary hardship on the creatures.

Barbados sheep (short hair) and most breeds of goats seem to do well in warmer climates, but humidity is always a formidable enemy.

It's a major decision.

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Old 01-01-2007, 01:45 PM   #6
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I've never raised sheep or llamas but it is my understanding that llamas, like camels, can be most unpleasent animals. They will spit and bite often without provocation and I have experienced this first hand.

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Old 01-02-2007, 03:27 AM   #7
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personally, I don't think it's a good idea to keep animals for the yarn. I think buying yarn is cheaper. Think about vet-costs (I've heard they are even more expensive in the US than here in the Netherlands) food-costs etc. You don't get much wool from 1 animal, so I don't think it's worth it and I don't think it's the right reason to keep an animal.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:48 PM   #8
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Someone mentioned alpaca bunnies? I supposed that was a mis-typed word; you must have meant angora bunnies, right?

I raise a lot (not all) of the fiber I spin. The reason is that I

1. enjoy animals immensely and love to watch their interaction with each other;

2. some of the fiber I use is difficult to obtain, so I simply do it myself. (Actually, the animals do it for me. ) I have black and also white mohair; various colors of angora from bunnies; jacob wool;

3. I have the fibers that I want processed the WAY I want; that is, either by a mill (if I have lots and lots) or by moi if just a wee bit; I love blended mohair and wool (at least 50-50);

4. I get a great amount of satisfaction from all this. I don't breed my animals; I buy just what I wish from a reputable breeder. I keep my animals on the small side (the jacob, remember?) and do my own (blade) shearing.

I'm lucky to live where I do, because I have the acreage to spare. A nearby farmer is my source of hay. The feed store isn't too far away AND ...... get this ......... the vet office I use has a 24/7 on-call emergency service and a livestock vet who makes housecalls! It just DOES NOT get any better than that!

ps---- I agree about sheep being the dumbest animals around. What happened is that God asked them if they wanted brains, and they thought he said 'trains' and they decided to wait for the one they wanted!
Because! That's why.
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:51 PM   #9
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And you can cuddle a bunny, whereas I don't think I'd want to cuddle a llama.

Still trying to convince Henry the cat that knitting is a spectator sport!
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Old 01-02-2007, 04:59 PM   #10
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IMHO you have to be more than a fiber lover to raise fiber-producing have to be a serious animal lover. People always say to me, "so, when are you going to get a sheep?" when they hear that I spin and knit -- and I'm all, no way, no how, I love fiber, but no way could I ever see myself caring for farm animals. soooo not my thing
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