Alpaca Atlantic of Tennessee, LLC
Helpful Web Sites
for 'Paca People
Over the last several years, Bill and I have happened upon some very informative and original Web sites. OK, that's a lie. I've found them because Bill isn't allowed near my computer -- just as I'm not allowed near anything mechanical. Not many people have a photographic mind and read at the speak of light like Audrey McCarter, of Thunder Creek Alpacas. So if you're like me, and appreciate knowing where to find information when you need it -- here's a good start! Have fun!
I try to keep my links up to date, but if you should find something that doesn't work as you think it should, please drop me an
- I'm a bit neurotic (according to Bill!) about getting things correct. Thanks in advance.
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- If you're new to the Alpaca world, please visit the
Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association
web site. Start with their ranch locator, beginning with Tennessee (naturally!) and ending with Alaska. It may take a couple of months, but it'll be worth it. You'll get a great feel for the health of the industry and will get more useful information than you'll be able to absorb...unless you're like Audrey!
Warning - this is not a complete listing of all Alpaca farms in the country, but I think most serious breeders pay for this advertising. I used to suggest that you call them at 1-800-213-9522, for a copy of the Alpaca Breeder's Guide, but they're now charging folks almost $10 in shipping fees. Hate to recommend something I wouldn't do myself - so I would skip the guide and just use their on-line listing. You'll miss all the expensive ads - but surfing is faster and we'll save a few (hundred?) trees this way!
Tip: Cool people in the industry pronounce the acronym AOBA as if it were a word (first A is long, second A is short).
- Want to know how to register an alpaca or check out some statistics? Visit The Alpaca Registry. I know, it's not really a fun site - but you have to think of it as the DMV of the alpaca world. And again, cool people pronounce this acronym (ARI) - sort of rhymes with Harry.
- For show information, visit the Alpaca and Llama Show Association site, or click on AOBA's Calendar of Events. Might find something going on in your neighborhood!
- Got fiber questions??
- If you have fiber and don't plan on selling or spinning it yourself, you can always jump into a fiber pool!
- The New England Alpaca Fiber Pool is my absolute first choice and I'll tell you why. Given the option, I'll always buy products that are made in the USA. I would rather support my neighbor and don't even mind spending a bit more knowing I'm helping our ecomony. Just read the History page on the NEAFP's web site and see if you don't feel the same! They also work for manufacturing costs. Can't beat that deal!
- My second choice would be the
Rocky Mountain Lama Co-op. Remember now that the word lama is inclusive of both alpacas and llamas. If someone had asked me, I would have come up with a word like alpama, but they didn't ask me! Anyway, these folks charge a percentage of the finished product for their work -- but they get a thumbs up from me for using home-grown fiber and processing it at home!
- My third choice is the
Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America.
I was dead-set against this Co-op when they first started. I just couldn't embrace the logic of sending home-grown fiber to South America for processing. Times have changed though and this Co-op is now embracing the vision of "Made in the USA."
- If breeders start throwing around terms while describing fiber, such as micron, histogram, or standard deviation, and you want more information than I've offered you on
don't panic. Act like you know what they're talking about, then make tracks to Understanding Micron Reports located in the Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratory site. It's very informative and will make an expert out of you in no time! (Or you could always swallow your pride and say "Huh?")
- And lastly, the
Greater Lakes Alpaca Association
has assembled a spectacular array of fiber-related information. You'll find everything from a fantastic assortment of fiber articles, to how to contact regional shearers. Great job GLAA folks!
I don't buy from companies that only advertise on the web. Pet peeve, I know, but I really need a catalog in hand to effectively compare products. I gave both the web links and toll free numbers (all catalogs are free) in case you happen to share my peculiarity.
Warning: some of these companies try to lure comparison shoppers with cheaper prices, then they sock it to you with huge postage and handling fees.
I've listed these companies in order of my personal preference (my rating criteria includes: customer service, speed of delivery, and competitive pricing).
Attention newcomers: Don't be sucked in to thinking you have to buy your alpaca supplies from a specialty (alpaca or llama) company. You don't. Except for feed and minerals, you'll use a combination of items produced for various livestock. Happy shopping!
- Premier1 - 800-282-6631. FANTASTIC customer support. Catalog is geared towards sheep, but since that's their business, I guess I can overlook that flaw. They have great shears, nail clippers, fencing, birthing goodies like plastic naval clamps and tubing supplies - supplies you normally think about when you need them!!! This company gets two thumbs up!
- Jeffers - 800-533-3377. Outstanding selection, great prices, free shipping on most items if order is over $50...what more could you ask for? Be sure to request their Equine AND Livestock catalogs, you'll use both. Their web site is a bit clumsy to navigate - but their catalogs are great.
- Valley Vet - 800-356-1005. These folks also have 2 catalogs that you'll use: Horse, and Farm and Ranch. Same shipping deal as Jeffers: free on most items if order is over $50. Also a great company - came in a close second to Jeffers only because their secection was a bit smaller.
- Omaha Vaccine Company - 800-367-4444. These folks were a bit more expensive than Jeffers on most items, but they do sell prescription vaccines much cheaper than you can probably buy from your Vet. The down side is that you have to get a prescription from your Vet to get them!
- Tek Supply - 800-835-7877. You'll love browsing through this high-tech catalog. Imagine a feed scoop with a built in scale! If you live in the south and want knitted shade cloth, this is the place to get it. Highly recommended.
- Quality Llama Products & Alternative Livestock Supply - 800-638-4689. They claim to be the "...largest alternative livestock supply source on the internet." I believe them! Years ago, after wasting about 8 weeks with Amazon.com (out of print, out of stock .....) I ordered my Alpaca library through these folks and received it in no time.
They also have a great selection of hardware for those that like to make their own 'paca gear. And if that's not enough they have alpaca halters that are dual adjustable: the nose band adjusts - because one size does not fit all!!!
- The Alpaca Book by Hoffman & Fowler
- Llama and Alpaca Neonatal Care by Smith, Timm, and Long
- Caring for Llamas and Alpacas by Hoffman and Asmus
- Veterinary Parasitology Reference Manual by Foreyt (OK, so this one isn't part of the normal library - but thought it should be.)
- Animal Pharmaceuticals Inc. - 800-323-7306. This company is still working on their web site. Don't rule them out just because they're a little behind the times. They have a great selection in their catalog - it's worth the call.
I haven't ordered much from these companies because their prices seemed higher overall than those mentioned above - but they're worth considering:
If you've noticed the trend, yup, all these companies have toll free numbers. If I have a question about a product, or problem with the order, 1 or 2 toll calls could mess up my competative pricing work. What can I say?
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- Mount Lehman Llamas. This site is so impressive it deserves a category all its own! No kidding. Brian and Jane Pinkerton do an outstanding job of sharing their knowledge in so many different areas, it's hard to decide where to start! Check out their "Llama Body Language" and "Llama Photo Lesson." But before you leave, do yourself a favor and take a tour of "Barn Art - It's Not the Louvre" or as described by the 2-legged owners - it's Art Worth Spitting On. I think "Red Hill With Bite Out Of It" is my favorite. Caution if you get hooked like I did, you could be here quite a while! I would love to meet Brian and Jane in person - perhaps get some barn decorating tips!
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- Livestock Guard Dog Information: Need information about livestock guard dogs???
- Shearing: John & Susan Merrell offer unique on-line shearing lessons. You can "enroll" anytime by clicking on Gateway Alpacas. If you think you're up to taking on the job of shearing - visit this site first!
- Fly Control: Don't get me started on the over-use of chemicals in our country -- that's a soap-box in itself! If flies are a problem for you, clean your barn every day; put up some blue-bird, swallow, and bat houses; and get yourself some chickens. If you want to create a visitor friendly environment (no bugs and little birds that jump on your lap looking for a handout), I would recommend bantam (miniature) cochins (fluffy). If you have hawks in your area, do yourself a favor and stay away from white chickens. Most of our chickens are earth tones -- the white ones didn't last long ;( If you can't find a local breeder, I highly recommend Stromberg's. I ordered 25 day-old chicks (shipped from Minnesota to North Carolina) in November. I received 26 healthy fly-catchers!
- Herd Management Software: Sorry, haven't tried either, but both come highly recommended. I use an old-fashioned notebook. If I'm in the barn, I want current information in my hand - not in a machine up at the house. But, if we ever have more than 100 alpacas (which we won't, unless Bill gets his way!) I would probably consider getting with the times. And for those of you that love computer-maintained records, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE double check all dates and numbers when you make entries if this is going to be your main source of information. If you sell us an alpaca with a due-date of September, and she gives birth in June (because the 6 key is only 1/8" under the 9 on the key-pad), you'll hear me scream from here!!!
- Scales: Eventually these guys just get too darned heavy to pick up and hold on the bathroom scale ;)
- Arlyn Scales. These platform scales (series 3200) are quickly becoming an industry standard. We bought one a few years back and love it. Warning though -- unplug it when you're not using it. We had a lightening strike that fried the circuits. The repair cost almost as much as a new scale! Stanley Capps of Capps Country Alpacas came up with a fantastic idea to make these scales 'paca friendly. Spray paint the shiny metal surface black, and build a four-sided ramp leading up to the platform. Ingenious!
- Bass Pro. The Normark hand-held digital fish scale is recommended for both crias and fleece from Cheryl Woods, Fanfare Farms. You do have to sew up your own harness though.
- Wal-Mart. I told Bill about the Bass Pro and he came back from Wal-Mart the following night with a present, my very own digital fish scale. It was even less expensive than the one above. Who says a girl needs flowers when you can buy her a fish scale!
- Transport Your 'Pacas: Haven't had to use any of these services, but I'll keep the numbers handy because you never know...
- Transport by Air: Instone Air Services. Their alpaca containers are air conditioned!
- International Transport: Mersant International Ltd. Specialty is horse transport, but have shipped alpacas.
- Ground Transport within the US: Hmmmmmmm. Bill and I have contemplated hiring transporters over the years, but never have. We like our animals moved from point-A, to point-B, without scenic trips along the way. My only advice here would be to get an itinerary that you're happy with, with a "no later than" delivery date; please don't transport alpacas unless they're in excellent health; and don't use a transporter unless they insist all alpacas are in excellent health (which should include BVD VI/PCR tests).
- Interstate Movement of Animals: Need to know what's required to move your alpacas from one state to another - or need help falling to sleep??? Check out the US State and Territory Animal Import Regulations Interstate Movement of Animals. I found info on Alpacas under various listings (Bovidae and Cervidae, Llama, etc.) but they were almost always listed near the bottom of the page. Your Vet might appreciate you doing this homework for her/him next time you need to transport your 'pacas and need them to give you a health certificate.
- Spinning & Weaving: Want to find a
in your area?? Whether you live in the United States or Canada, Interweave Press is the place to start! They also have an easy to understand intro to spinning and all sorts of information on weaving.
- Camilla Valley Farm Weaver's Supply has a lot more than just
weavers on this list!
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Each of the following companies carry several formulas. You'll have to decide which is best for your situation (this might be a great time to get to know your County Agricultural Agent - they're always full of free advice concerning your local area!). Some breeders claim their animals have less "bare-nose syndrome" when they use Cache La Poudre or the Stillwater's blend with extra zinc.
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- Cache La Poudre. Check web site or call for a brochure at 800-758-0825. If you call, ask for the story behind the name - it's interesting! These minerals are also carried by
- Stillwater Minerals. Again, you can check their site, or call for a brochure at 800-255-0357. If you go with Stillwater minerals, you can compare prices at
Quality Llama Products,
Useful Llama Items, and
- Zinpro. I'm not suggesting you use extra zinc, but if your vet should recommend it, you can buy it much cheaper if you go to the Zinpro web site and look for local distributors. I saved over 50%.
Note: In your quest for information, don't rule out Llama sites. Most of the information here applies to Alpacas - the few topics that don't will be obvious.
- Camelid Health comes compliments of LLAMAS email list. Want to know more about meningeal worms or sucking lice? This is the place to go for an outstanding collection of camelid-related articles. Don't skip past the bottom of the page. They have Camelid Veterinarians listed by state, and a listing of Vet Med Colleges (anyone want low-cost ultrasounds???).
- Camelid Health Topics by David E Anderson, DVM, MS, of Ohio State University. Topics range from castration to infertility. I personally copied and saved them all!
- Llamapaedia. Rates five stars! Outstanding site. I could spend a week here alone! Thanks go to Greta Stamberg, DVM and Derek Wilson, DVM.
- Net Vet and the Electronic Zoo. Not too much alpaca-specific information, but a fun place to surf!
- Chewin' The Cud. This site, hosted by the Alpaca Breeders of Western Pennsylvania, is set up by subject, in a question and answer format.
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Note: If you're just starting out and don't have a mentor, or thinking about making significant changes or upgrades, you may want to enlist the guidance of someone who's been there and done that. The following are professional consultants who are highly regarded in their field.
- Shannon Travis McConnell. Shannon, owner of The Shepherd's Oak of Indiana, manages a herd of 80 alpacas. He also provides boarding, stud service, training, and runs a gift shop. In his free time, Shannon leads a 4-H group and hosts school tours. Note to single, Christian, animal-loving women: Shannon is a bachelor, and a very good-looking one at that (in my humble, yet professional assessment)! Remember, this is my web site and it's filled with my honest opinions.
- Ian Watt. Ian Watt has bred alpacas for 15 years, served as National President of the Australian Alpaca Association for four years, and is now an international alpaca consultant. You'll need to visit his site for his looooooooooooong list of accomplishments and specialties. Ian lectures at workshops, seminars and at various speaking engagements around the USA. He now calls Morro Bay, California his home.
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- Yahoo! Groups: You'll have to sign up with an ID and password to get into this one, but trust me - it's worth it. Once you get signed up, register for the following groups:
- AlpacaMarket. This isn't a very busy group - but they have some interesting postings from time to time.
- Alpacasite. This is a very active group of breeders with a variety of skill-levels, experiences, and backgrounds. You won't find any nationally recognized camelid experts here, but you will find a group of folks with lots of hands-on experience that are willing to help their neighbor. The advice on this site should never be substituted for veterinary assistance, but it's a great place for breeders to share their experiences. I would recommend setting your delivery options for "No Mail/Web Only" or your E-Mail box will be packed. This group is not for the "thin-skinned." Many of the more vocal members are veterans to the industry who don't hesitate to voice their opinions. If you join - and I strongly suggest that you do - do yourself a favor and read the archives from beginning to end (if you have a few months with nothing to do!). Many topics have been covered at great length, numerous times.
- LLAMAS email list: If the day were just a little bit longer, I would join this group - it has a great reputation. Marketed towards llama owners, but I'm sure Paca-Folks are welcome.
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