In our country, these amazing animals, somewhat reminiscent of a small camel and have a touching look, are considered true exotic. But in America, alpacas are doing good business, because their coat is considered very valuable. In Russia, alpaca owners can be counted on the fingers.
Alpaca Kids at Smirnov Farm
On the outskirts of Moscow for several years there has been a family farm that grows alpacas. One of the founders of the Russian Alpaca farm Ilya Smirnov told us what kind of animals they are and what is their uniqueness.
Big family with a good heart
“We got the alpacas with great difficulty,” says Ilya, the youngest of the Smirnov family. - Previously, my brother and his wife were engaged in alpacas. A few years ago, when we traveled to the USA, we visited an alpaca farm and fell in love with these amazing animals. So it was decided to bring them to Russia.
However, bringing exotic animals to Russia for the Smirnovs was not so simple. Since the animals flew to our country by plane, it was necessary to draw up a number of documents, which took a total of one and a half years.
The expression of the face of the alpaca really touches. It is believed that only a person with a good heart can take such an animal for "education". Perhaps this applies to the Smirnov.
Alpaca breeding business in high demand in America
“We brought this animal to Russia more for the soul,” says Ilya Smirnov, “you don’t earn a lot of money on alpacas, people still have little knowledge of this area.” In the United States, alpaca farms can be found at every turn, alpaca wool, socks, scarves and even warm and medicinal underpants are sold in the markets, ”Ilya smiles.“ In Russia, this business is in its infancy. People bring alpacas for exotic, like a pet.
Hard choice of a partner and no "random connections"
Today, 11 alpacas live on five hundred square meters near the Smirnovs in pens, and it all started with five brought from the United States.
Since while the territory is small, the owners do not seek to actively breed animals. But when the issue of increasing numbers is being resolved, farmers carefully choose a family pair of alpacas, since each has its own pedigree and blood mixing is not allowed. To do this, all pens are divided by gender: males live in a separate pen, females in another, “children” in the third, and there is another separate pen in which the “brutal” alpha male lives, who cannot get along with the herd .
“Alpaca propagation itself is very difficult,” Ilya continues our conversation, “the female carries the cub for 11.5 months and gives birth to only one or two children at a time.”
Fashionable haircut and minus 4 kg of valuable wool
The Alpaca Smirnovs shear themselves once a year, most often in May, when heat and cold are no longer foreseen on the street.
- Alpaca is trimmed very simply, - says Ilya, - the animal falls on its side, clings to its front and hind legs so that it does not kick, and cuts. We are shearing a special machine. For several years we managed to “get our hands on”, and we learned how to make good alpaca hairstyles. All the animals here look very well-groomed. It happens that we go to our friends who also hold alpacas and put their animals in order. In general, we try to communicate and support each other on all issues relating to this unusual animal.
Alpacas tolerate winter well
Help from the farmer
With one alpaca we cut 4 kg of wool. Wool from the back and sides is considered the most valuable, on the neck the hair is shorter - a little worse, and from the paws and abdomen - this is wool of the third grade.
All sheared wool goes to processing. It turns out that in order to send wool to the factory for mass processing, 200 kg of wool must be put into operation. Smirnovs do not have such volumes yet. And if you buy a special machine in the States, it will cost a tidy sum - 1.2 million rubles plus shipping from the United States, which today is completely unprofitable.
“In the Yaroslavl region, we found a person who sometimes processes wool for us,” says Ilya, “we get very warm socks.” The quality is better than camel hair. Since she is still hypoallergenic and does not prick, we knitted our first suit for our nephew. We have a small number of things for sale, but basically we do everything for ourselves.
Sometimes the Smirnovs have to provide qualified assistance to other alpaca owners. Some start them, raise them, and then face an ignorance of the proper care of them. After all, they still need to file their claws and teeth. And then they ask the farmers to come to the rescue and provide a full range of services.
Help from the farmer
Alpaca in the upper jaw has only two rear fighting fangs, the front teeth protrude on the lower jaw, which are filed with a special machine. By the way, fangs are very difficult to reach. Alpacas do not bite, but spit.
Do not hit the alpaca - get a spit
“On the farm, we often conduct excursions,” says Ilya Smirnov, “once there was a case when a girl made an alpaca angry with something and the animal spat in it. To my surprise, the girl was not taken aback and spat in her in response. I was very surprised at such a quick reaction, - Ilya laughs. In general, if the alpaca spits - this is still no matter where, and if it sneezes and pours all the contents on you - this is completely unpleasant.
For dinner - granola and apples with carrots
For breakfast, the Smirnovs give their “pupils” granola, for lunch - sprouted barley, which they themselves grow, and for dinner - granola, apples, carrots and cabbage. Previously, owners ordered special muesli from Germany, now they buy domestic ones. For 11 animals weighing 70 kg, a 30-kilogram bag of muesli lasts about a week. Compared with the content of the camel, the amount of care and maintenance of the alpaca is non-gastronomic. Much more money goes to veterinary medicine. In case the animal becomes ill, the Smirnovs maintain contact with a breeder from the USA, they turn to him for all questions that arise. Recently, the Smirnovs ordered special injections for animals, which are administered exclusively on schedule. Help from the farmer We cut 4 kg of wool from one alpaca. Wool from the back and sides is considered the most valuable, on the neck the hair is shorter - a little worse, and from the paws and abdomen - this is wool of the third grade.
Be responsible for the animal
Each animal on the farm has its own name - Maximus, Kozulya, Boris, Alpachino, Chico, Charlie, Sylvia, Isaac, Kozya. It turns out that alpaca loves winter very much. At first, when the Smirnovs did not yet know how heat-loving animals would carry snow, they built a very warm and solid house for their pets. Then they realized that on the street the animals feel even more comfortable.
Once a week, two hired workers come to the farm and clean up the animals in the pens. The rest of the work is done by the family through joint efforts.
“Once,” says Ilya, “we bought alpacas from one family from Rublevka.” She came to us already completely "killed", greatly exhausted. The rich man in Rublevki bought this “exotic” for his child, the child played with him, and then some horse bit the baby, and all the animals were thrown out into the street. Having learned about this, we bought alpaca. She was very active, and she learned how to open a pen. Once she penetrated a neighboring paddock and ate muesli to such an extent that her stomach was greatly swollen. We immediately drove her to the vet, but failed to save her.
Ilya Smirnov cuts his favorites himself
In pursuit of a curiosity, people take alpacas as exotic as a pet. And, after playing enough, they throw it in the trash. A very sad fact that Ilya told us. Perhaps it is precisely the long procedures for importing alpacas from abroad that can partially deter our businessmen from such sad actions. After all, you still need to have a kind heart, as Ilya said, and a great sense of responsibility.
The plans of the Smirnov family are to move away from Moscow, and 40 km from the city to buy land where they will be engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. The Smirnovs plan to bring several more alpacas from the States, conduct excursions, and solve the problem of wool processing. And then it will be possible to speak about this area not as a hobby, but as a developing business. We wish the farmers success.