Electrician Turned Alpaca Farmer Makes a Career Out of Cuteness
Ann Clayburn and her husband Dan are both robotic electricians who were looking for a shake-up in their lives. After they had a son, the couple were deciding if Ann should go back to work or not when Dan stumbled on an airplane advertisement for a “huggable investment” by becoming an alpaca farmer. Living just outside a major city, Dan and Ann were intrigued and started doing their research. They started visiting alpaca farms and immediately fellin love with one particular alpaca, San Diego, who they have to this day. They knew immediately it was their herd and that their journey to become alpaca breeders had started.
Ann dove into the world of alpaca farming and does it all for her 36 alpacas: breeding, shearing, making alpaca products, and taking the animals on the alpaca show circuit. Alpacas’ caretaking needs are relatively basic. They need to be sheared once a year and constantly have hay, water, and supplement pellets to eat. They are more adaptable to the cold due to their fibre, which is five to seven times warmer than sheep wool. The shearing process happens during spring when they essentially get a spa day. Their hair is cut, nails are clipped and teeth are attended to.
If a female isn’t receptive to a male, she will spit at him or “spit him off” as it’s known as in the world of alpaca farmers.
There are hierarchies in every herd with each one having an alpha male that wants to be the top breeder. Typically, the alpha is the most aggressive towards the other alpacas. The females aren’t as aggressive, but follow more of an elder’s behaviour, which has the older alpacas eating first. Alpaca males and females must be kept in different pens because as Ann says, “A bull is a bull.” The breeding at alpaca acres is done in a controlled environment and is all charted. The behaviours are observed and reported as many factors come into the breeding process, including the female’s cycle and hierarchy. If a female isn’t receptive to a male, she will spit at him or “spit him off” as it’s known as in the world of alpaca farmers.
Ann loves her job and the fact that working with animals makes her smile every day. The animals have given Ann, Dan and their son Colby a unique perspective on life and allowed them to turn their passion into a career.
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