Saturday, January 24, 2004

A visit to Southern Cross Farm

Just outside Gilroy California, off Highway 152 -- in fact, right across the way from Bonfante Gardens Theme Park which is one of my children's favorite summer hang-outs -- you can find Southern Cross Farm and their 30 or so alpacas. Tom and Robyn Houts breed and raise a very colorful herd of alpacas. In fact, they have some of the most beautiful black females I've seen. I may just have to get myself one for my herd....

Meet Annikka and her male cria Carmelo (who is only 9 days old in this picture). These gorgeous animals are owned by Wendy MacBain of Shekinah's Alpacas. Wendy agists her animals at Southern Cross while her ranch in Colorado is being built.

So what is agistment?
Agisting an animal is kind of like boarding but with extras. For example, when you board a horse at a ranch, it has it's own stall. You, the animal's owner, are responsible for feeding your horse, mucking the stall, and maintaining its health care. When you agist, the feeding and clean up are handled by the ranch owners. Alpacas are herd animals. They are kept in paddocks with usually 3 or more animals of the same gender and age. Because of this grouping nature, it would be impossible to require a boarded alpaca to be fed and cleaned up after separately. As for health management, I'll have to double-check on that and get back to you. I don't know if that's included in the agistment fee. Many alpaca herd owners administer the basic meds themselves - yearly shots, worming meds, things along that nature. I would expect the ranch owners to keep an eye out for any health problems and pass along any pertinent information to the animal's owner. Although I would certainly expect that owners have to pay for any vet bills for their agisted animals.


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