Submit a Question

Submit a Question

If you're an experienced breeder, a new farmer, or just interested in learning more, we'll happily answer your question within 72 hours. For immediate inquiries, please call us at 717-867-2897.

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Q: Who took all your awesome photographs? These look fantastic!

Submitted by Mark

Kristie: Thanks Mart -- this is working well, now that i know how to get into it!

Brion: i think it was the awesome models.


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Q: Hello Kristie and Brion, I am a local Hershey mom who created howtohershey a free website/smartphone app for area locals and visitors to town. I would like your permission to list your farm so our followers at howtohershey can find out about sweet valley suris. This is at no cost to you! Also on a personal note, I am interested in bringing my 9 year old out to visit and see the shearing. If you are opening up to the public for the shearing I think it would be a great event listing for the site. Please contact me whenever possible so that we can arrange this. Thanks 304-6499 Trisha

Submitted by Trisha

Kristie: Phoned Trisha and requested we be put on howtohershey. She will come for a visit.

Brion: K handled this one.


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Q: Do Aplaca's require any hoof care?Do they require vacines?Do their teeth requires any extra care?Donna Wiker

Submitted by Donna

Kristie: Good Questions! 1) Alpacas do not have hooves. They have two toes that have toenails...similar to a dogs. We rarely have to trim the nails, but when we do we just use a knippers simliar to what's used to trim a bonzai tree. It's important to have the alpacas be used to be handled for this task. 2) We give a CDT vaccination shot once a year for adults. Crias get boosters several times their first year. Depending where you are located, it may also be necessary to vaccinate against rabies. The best thing is to ask your vet or an experienced alpaca farmer in your area. 3) Teeth rarely if ever require trimming. When necessary we use a dremel tool or a rasp to trim them down so the lower teeth meet the upper gum plate. Males need their fighting trimmed periodically as well.

Brion: I (Brion) am the chief toe nail and teeth trimmer. Kristie handles the vaccinations and most all the meds. It helps to divide these tasks so each becomes skilled in what needs to be done. Hope this helps!


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Q: How do they manage in the winter?

Submitted by Cyndee

Kristie: They have such wonderful insulating fiber that they typically manage very well. We have some of our alpacas in a pasture with a three-sided shed year-round. As long as that shed is facing so they can escape the wicked winter winds they are typically fine. We have on rare occasions taken them into the barn when we are expecting a 25" Noreaster snow storm. The rest of the alpacas in our barn (moms and babies) are also fine and have the ability to go in and out as they please. They almost always choose to sleep outside the barn under the overhang, but will also avoid the wind and snow storms. Of course, on extremely frigid days we check to be sure no one's shivering - usually a late Autumn baby - and if so, we put a coat on them. The shivering stops almost immediately and if not, we check for other possible issues such as parasites, milk from mom, etc.

Brion: How do "they" manage in the winter? If you're asking about the alpacas, they manage just fine. If you're asking about me, I get too cold.


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Q: Can you really make money?

Submitted by Candice

Kristie: My perspective on this may be different than Brion's (my husband, the accountant). I believe that the breeding and selling of the offspring when they are of breeding age is more likely to garner you a substantial income than the other money-making option, which is fiber. We as an industry are currently still increasing the numbers in our United States herd to entice commercial mills to work with alpaca fiber. Until that occurs, most fiber enthusiasts are and will still be in a cottage industry for quite a few more years to come. Until then, the breeding and selling of high quality alpacas should be the focus of those who are interested in this as a money-making business. In addition, there are other money making options related to alpacas such as transporting, brokering, etc. That being said, like in any business, it is critical for owners to focus on the farm like it's a business ... work the business, market your "product," and continue to create better and better offspring! But keep in mind that you can't put a price on the office environment!!

Brion: Money can and should be made. First, define where you want to place your focus; fiber sales, transportation, adjisting, breeding, etc. Then I suggest you review our website and understand how to write a business plan. Once you define your plan, and we can help you define it, all you have to do is execute.


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Q: How much time must you devote to them every day?

Submitted by Marty

Kristie: Well, it depends on the day, but here's a typical day. I will just share information on the one barn that houses 15 moms and babies and a 3-sided shed in the pasture that houses 3 herdsires. We are in the barn between 7 and 7:30 am (along with a cup of very hot, strong coffee in winter). They all immediately get/wake up and look at us with their "where's the food" faces! But, we clean up the barn first. We just like to make sure the stalls are clean of poop every day before feeding. Some days there's nothing to clean up, but in winter, there usually is. We feed grain, refill hay bins, and top off the water buckets. That all takes about 45 minutes and then we go to the pasture with the 3 major herdsires on the farm. Their faces give us that, "feed me first, I'm the best guy here!" look. We do the same routine here as in the barn, but these guys only take about 5-10 minutes. So, that's a typical morning for that area of the farm. An hour at the most. Then the evening it is basically the same thing. It usually takes another 30-45 minutes or so. I take my time because I think it's very important to observe, observe, observe each and every alpaca and baby every morning. I know each one's habits and know if one is "off". Because I'm home much of the day, I can take the time to clean up the pastures during the day, begin halter training babies, or update records. But that's certainly not every day.

Brion: Well, being a male and in a hurry, the coffee is first. In the morning when Kristie isn't with me, I "rush" through and get all the work done in 35 to 40 minutes. I do not observe, unless I am looking at Kristie. I must say the evening chores are always a delight because we have wine instead of coffee.