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#1 Old 09-27-2007, 05:52 PM
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What do you guys think about alpaca hair? I'd like to be educated on them and any industries involved in 'harvesting' their hair.



Just wanted to know because a friend of mine takes care of alpacas as a family business. Those silly creatures are quite cute and have lovely personalities. They're treated very well and don't seem to mind having their hair clipped. It makes me smile since I know that the sheep industry can be very cruel.



Are alpacas treated similarly to sheep in big industries? Educate me :]
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#2 Old 09-28-2007, 06:03 AM
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I have a friend with a small llama farm, and it sounds the same. They have free roam of nine large pastures, are treated like pets, and get their hair clipped every so often.



The main thing that someone might find wrong with their care is that llamas (and I assume alpacas) don't belong in warm climates. They thrive in the winter, but the poor things roast in the summer with their thick coats. Of course, cutting their coats helps, which means if you are keeping a llama or alpaca in a warm climate, it's more ethical to cut their hair than not.



I don't think there are any huge (factory-farm-sized) llama or alpaca farms. They're not as profitable as sheep, so it probably wouldn't be worth it. That said, I'm sure there are some farms where the animals are treated badly, and others where the farmers give the best care possible.



ETA: I didn't realize this was the vegan forum. From a vegan standpoint, it wouldn't matter how well they were cared for, they're still being used for human means. From an AW standpoint, it would probably depend on the conditions at individual farms.
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#3 Old 09-28-2007, 08:34 AM
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Still not vegan, still scratchy as all hell, still won't wear the sweater my dad got for me last xmas.



But they are cuuute!
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#4 Old 09-28-2007, 05:11 PM
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I'm not saying it's vegan, I was just wondering what vegans thought about it. If I had asked about sheep, the vegan police would've put me away!



I'm in Washington state, so it's very cool here and we have chilly winters. My friend's family always cuts the alpacas' hair in Spring so that they don't have any heat problems during Summer, when it can get to 100 degrees.



These alpaca are just darlings though! They're so sweet.
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#5 Old 09-28-2007, 05:48 PM
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ETA: I didn't realize this was the vegan forum. From a vegan standpoint, it wouldn't matter how well they were cared for, they're still being used for human means. From an AW standpoint, it would probably depend on the conditions at individual farms.





I'm not sure about that. I think there is a distinction somewhere. My parents have a dog with long shaggy hair. When my mom grooms him, she gets bags full of fluffy hair out of him. I once tried to convince her to spin it and start knitting with it (yes, people do this!). As a vegan, I would have no problem with wearing a sweater made of Max hair.



Although I'm not sure where I stand on specifically breeding and keeping alpacas for fur (or pets). I suppose if they were rescue alpacas...
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#6 Old 09-28-2007, 06:41 PM
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One of my co-workers also breeds show alpacas, and they are well taken care of, though from an environmentalist point of view, it could be bad because it takes alot of water, land, and perhaps it pollutes, I'm not sure. From an ethical standpoint, I personally don't have a problem with her particular farm. We live in Florida, so to not shave them would be very bad, perhaps even deadly. (Though theres always the argument that they shouldn't be here, then, so I dunno...)
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#7 Old 09-28-2007, 07:02 PM
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Keeping alpacas seems much the same as keeping sheep - just another industry commodifying sentient beings. (Some 11,250,00 kgs of alpaca meat are produced in Peru annually).
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#8 Old 09-28-2007, 10:08 PM
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I'm not sure about that. I think there is a distinction somewhere. My parents have a dog with long shaggy hair. When my mom grooms him, she gets bags full of fluffy hair out of him. I once tried to convince her to spin it and start knitting with it (yes, people do this!). As a vegan, I would have no problem with wearing a sweater made of Max hair.



Although I'm not sure where I stand on specifically breeding and keeping alpacas for fur (or pets). I suppose if they were rescue alpacas...



That's what I've been doing, saving my dog's fur after I brush him. I want to make a drop spindle and give a try at spinning my own yarn.



If I were ever going to have rescue alpacas (which I'd like to), if I needed to shave them because of the temperature I would and I'd probably use the fur. Other than that, I'm perfectly happy with them keeping it and hopefully I wouldn't ever have to shave them.
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#9 Old 09-29-2007, 01:52 PM
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Keeping alpacas seems much the same as keeping sheep - just another industry commodifying sentient beings. (Some 11,250,00 kgs of alpaca meat are produced in Peru annually).



Except they aren't bred to have more fur, I don't think. And they don't get skin infections and have their flesh cut out of them. If I were to choose between sheep wool or alpaca fur, I'd pick the alpaca fur.



I've never heard of alpaca meat in this country, so I don't think that truly applies to what I'm discussing in particular.



I think domestication was a bad idea, but now that it's here and thriving, there's not much anyone can do about it really.



A sweater made from my doggie's hair doesn't seem bad to me. It's almost kind of a personal little gift from my friend to me, just a little less accepted by most of the public XD
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#10 Old 10-05-2007, 10:18 PM
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Keeping alpacas seems much the same as keeping sheep - just another industry commodifying sentient beings. (Some 11,250,00 kgs of alpaca meat are produced in Peru annually).



I'm still wondering what alpaca owners do with the animals in other areas of the world. Are they killed for meat when they don't "produce" enough hair?
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#11 Old 10-07-2007, 03:41 PM
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I read recently that alpacas are the only American famed animal who do not face the possibility of eventual slaughter, because there is no market for alpaca meat in this country.



However, it is easy to see how this situation could change if alpaca ranching becomes widespread. If there are great numbers of surplus alpacas, one could see the animals or their meat becoming an export product, much as horsemeat is in the US.



Already, there are llamas and alpacas without homes. A search on Petfinder shows numerous alpacas being offered by various humane societies.

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#12 Old 11-15-2012, 01:04 PM
 
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I'm not sure if anyone still checks this feed but.. just to clarify the questions here.  I own alpacas.  They're beautiful regal creatures who produce luxury fiber (all on their own).  Alpacas cannot be forced to grow fleece.  They just do it.  They're actually not cold weather animals.  They hail from S. America and have adapted to thrive in extreme changes in the weather.  Alpacas are camelids and they use water to thermal regulate in this extreme weather I've mentioned.  In the US alpacas grow their fiber and in regions where the weather gets cold in the winter, they are shorn in the spring.  If they reside in a hotter climate, they are shorn more than once a year.  Vegans should be aware that if an alpaca is not shorn, that is cruel.  Their fleece will rot and fall off causing health problems and pain.  Alpacas have been walking on the planet for as long as humans have.  They have always been companion animals since their creation and have never been considered "wild" .. We feel that our yarn is vegan friendly.  Our animals are raised with the best possible food and health care possible.. and with an immense amount of love.  We consider them a part of our family. Their manure is also wonderful (and organic) for growing vegetables and used for house plants.  A "tea" can be created and poured directly into plants or their little alpaca beans can be mixed in the soil.  As a vegan, all you have to do is wrap your arms around the long beautiful neck of an alpaca for a snuggle.. enjoy a light kiss perhaps (if you're lucky) and you'll fall in love too.  I think they offer a very wonderful vegan option.  Yes, alpacas in S. America are eaten.  Yes, some farms in the US eat them as well.  Yes, their hides are tanned for teddy bears and rugs.  So, as you would research anything you eat, research where you purchase your alpaca items.  Know who you're buying from.  And, to the person who said their alpaca sweater was "itchy" .. I can assure you.. that's not an American Alpaca product.  It's Peruvian.  Buy American.. hand raised, hand cared for, hand shorn, beautiful yarn hand knit ..  you'll feel the difference.. I promise.

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#13 Old 11-20-2012, 09:39 PM
 
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well it does all depend on how they are treated. i dont use wool because of the conditions and the docked tails (which people say is to stop parasites but they could easily just be shorn there more often) but if they have their tails and are treated well, why not?

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#14 Old 11-21-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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I absolutely agree.  I never knew that about sheep.  How awful.  Our alpacas are not only raised with great care and love.. but also with respect.  We allow our alpacas to be alpacas.  I've had many folks say that they wish they could come back as alpacas on our farm .. I think research is key.  As you would research the food you eat, research where natural fibers come from as well.  

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#15 Old 02-24-2014, 03:21 PM
 
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I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and a vegan for the last 7 of those years.  I consider myself a vegan; others may not. I raise alpacas.  I have had the enormous privilege of living with these remarkable, gentle, highly intelligent animals for 13 years. We love and respect our animals.  I use their fiber (wool) but don't use sheep's wool because slaughter is part of that industry. I don't use synthetic yarns like acrylic or polyester because they are oil and chemical based products and that flies in the face of my environmental concerns.  When I buy cotton, I try to buy organic cotton because non-organic cotton is a filthy product in terms of pesticide use.

 

When we bought our first alpacas 13 years ago, almost everyone I met got into that industry because they were animal lovers and wanted to have an animal based lifestyle that did not involve slaughter.  Using the fiber my alpacas produce I make all kinds of earth friendly (no oil or chemical based fiber) clothes, home décor items and other products.  Their manure fertilizes our garden and the gardens of many people in our area.  That's better, I think, than using the oil and chemical based fertilizers which is what you use if you use fertilizer other than animal manure, and, of course almost all animal manure comes from suffering factory farmed animals .

 

My husband shears our alpacas once a year-a 20 minute procedure.  While he has them on the shearing table, he trims their toenails if they need it, gives them annual CD&T shots and trims their teeth if they need it.  Tooth trimming seems to be totally painless to them; their teeth grow all their lives.  When they graze on sandy or rocky soil, they are worn down naturally.  I sort and grade the fleece and get it ready for spinning.  Shearing, toe nail and tooth trimming are all absolutely essential to the animals' health.  Alpacas that are not shorn annually (or in some cases every other year) can suffer from heat.  It is cruel not to shear alpacas.

 

We have a barn opening to very large pens.  All pens open into pastures that range in size from a couple acres to 10 acres. ~~Our barn doors are kept open except for a few super cold winter nights. The alpacas prefer to sleep outside though they do come into the barn from the pens on those cold nights. We let them out into pastures when the grass is sufficient:  we have been in a serious drought for ten years. (Global Warming?)  All the several dozen ponds in the area  dried up in the last decade and grass does not grow as well as it used to.  Some suggest that industry and oil usage has something to do with this.  True?  I don't know for sure but that is one reason I try to keep my oil and chemical footprint as small as possible and that means driving as little as possible car that gets good mileage. It also means not buying oil and chemical based clothing when possible - and, of course, most clothing is synthetic.

 

We feed our alpacas, shear them, put up fences to protect them from predators such as neighborhood pet dogs (the worst predator) and give them good veterinary care on the few occasions when it is necessary.  In return, we get their annual fleeces and the pleasure of sharing life with them. ~~Most vegans I know have no problem with keeping pet dogs or cats and many even have pets themselves. Keeping alpacas is similar to people, myself included, who keep cats and dogs for the joy of having their company. Dogs and cats are natural predators that either live in packs (dogs) or as solitary stalkers (cats).  We who own them create an entirely artificial life for our pets so we can keep them.  Isn't this exploiting them?  They are not allowed to function in the way they are inclined to because we want to keep them as pets.  Many dogs are taken to a dog groomer to have their hair cut. This is not any different from shearing alpacas.  The animal is restrained in a safe manner and shearing is done with electric shears. Most alpaca people I know have professional shearers shear their animals.  These people are fast and efficient.  Cuts RARELY happen.  Alpaca people won't tolerate a careless shearer and word spreads fast if a shearer cuts animals.

 

Like alpacas, some dogs produce coats which can be spun into yarn.  The small mills that spin our alpaca fleece into yarn also list spinning dog hair on their lists of services.

 

Alpacas have not been bred to have rolling skin like some breeds of sheep have; rolling skin makes it more difficult to shear without cutting.  Their tails are not amputated like some dog breeds, a few horse breeds and apparently some wool sheep.   The people I know with alpacas love their animals and give them the best care they can. 

 

From the research I have done, in pre-Inca and Inca times, llamas and some alpacas were sacrificed to their gods. They were not and are not on the daily menu for the peasants who keep them.  Their diet contains potatoes ,quinoa, veggies and a little meat.  Most meat among the indigenous people is guinea pig which they raise in their kitchens. A few older alpacas are sometimes eaten, usually in desperate times. Incas considered alpacas to valuable to slaughter; their fleeces were the same in Incan culture as coins and bills are in ours - currency. I have heard alpaca meat has become a trendy thing, especially among tourists, in the large South American cities.  In the United States a few farms started to slaughter alpacas in 2007 when the economy collapsed and part time alpaca farmers, like others, lost their jobs and some of them, their homes.  Most alpaca people are as horrified by this as I am.  An Incan legend tells that alpacas were given to people to keep and to take wool from as long as they protect and care for them.  If humans mistreat them, the gods will take them back.

 

I wrote to Farm Sanctuary and to PETA several years ago asking that they consider looking  at alpaca fiber as a product that involved keeping animals without harming them and without exploiting them anymore than our dogs and cats are exploited.~~I made the point that they produced a more earth friendly, animal friendly fiber than either synthetic fabrics (which may encourage global warming) or wool or goat fiber - industries which involve slaughter.  I never received the courtesy of a response from either organization except for pleas for money. I note that Farm Sanctuary allows visitors in to see their animals. ~~I don't understand how that is less exploitative than keeping dogs, cats or alpacas?

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#16 Old 02-24-2014, 04:14 PM
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I wrote to Farm Sanctuary and to PETA several years ago asking that they consider looking  at alpaca fiber as a product that involved keeping animals without harming them and without exploiting them anymore than our dogs and cats are exploited.~~I made the point that they produced a more earth friendly, animal friendly fiber than either synthetic fabrics (which may encourage global warming) or wool or goat fiber - industries which involve slaughter.  I never received the courtesy of a response from either organization except for pleas for money. I note that Farm Sanctuary allows visitors in to see their animals. ~~I don't understand how that is less exploitative than keeping dogs, cats or alpacas?

Welcome BarbZ! :hi:

Sounds like quite a gig you and the alpacas have together! I recall about 20 or 30 years ago raising alpacas seemed to be the latest trend among people with land and money here in Ohio. I wondered what became of so many of them.

 

I agree with you on the comparison to having other animals living with you, at least in your situation. I would feel the same way towards sheep if they lived the way your alpacas do!

Why do you say they "need" to be sheared yearly or would suffer from heat? Is it because they are in a different climate, or have developed such a coat from selective breeding?

 

I can completely understand the opposition to promoting alpaca products. Sheep raised for wool was once a symbiotic relationship between farmer and sheep. Now look at what it's become. There is nothing inherently different about using sheep for wool than there is alpacas. The horror is in what it's become.

Another consideration is that dogs and cats are in such need of homes. Both organizations are opposed to breeding. I've never heard much about alpaca rescue other than from those who've bought them to profit and aren't getting any profits. You don't hear about any need for trap/fix/release!

 

Farm sanctuaries allow visitors as a learning experience, not really a show. They rescue and care for those animals and I think it's important for that need to be made public.

 

Pictures would also be nice!

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#17 Old 02-24-2014, 07:59 PM
 
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Hi Silva,

 

Alpacas descend from the wild Vicuna.  Alpacas are the domesticated version and have been domesticated and grown for fleece for thousands of years.  In South America, they are allowed to graze pretty much free range, I believe, but come into corrals at times. They do not shed and grow 4-6 inches of fleece every year.  This is why they must be shorn. At our farm, we don't start shearing until we've had a stretch of nights that don't go below freezing. Generally we can start in late May and finish before the middle of June.  We do have a warm room and alpaca blankets in case it gets too cool after the first few have been shorn.

 

There are three main reasons for becoming a vegetarian and especially, a vegan:  animal welfare, health, environmental concerns.  All three have equal billing with me.  When I look at the last, environmental concerns, I see a huge problem that needs to be addressed.  Most of the clothing we buy and throw out with great abandon and then buy more of is made of synthetic fiber which is oil and chemical based. Much of it is made in countries where children and women are employed in sweat shops, then it is imported and sold in American stores by employees paid minimum wage who struggle to get their basic needs met. We buy these synthetic clothes, then throw them out and buy new clothes every year.  I am old enough to remember when clothes, mostly cotton, linen and wool, were handed down. Synthetic clothing fabric, except for nylon didn't exist. I remember my grandmother darning socks.  That was her contribution to the family and our socks lasted several years instead of having to be tossed.  Go back a few generations before that and read New England wills:  often clothes were left to family members.  Maybe we need to return to those days:  stop buying clothes made of cheap synthetics.  But what do we replace it with?  Organic cotton, for one.  Non-organic cotton, however, is filthy with pesticides which, of course, go into the soil and leach into the water.  Linen is another choice.  Hemp would be great if we could get over our hemp-fear in this country.  Fiber from fiber bearing animals like sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas are possibilities.  Could we get around the slaughter part of the industry with sheep and goats?  I doubt it. 

 

Let's look at alpacas.  Alpaca is not commonly accepted as a meat animal in this country any more than horses or dogs are, though, unfortunately, there are a few farms now that slaughter. Most alpaca people are appalled by the thought of eating alpaca even though most of them do eat meat. One way to keep alpacas from the slaughter house is to create a demand for their fleece which must come off annually (for most alpacas). Alpaca is warm, virtually water repellent and has the strongest tensile strength of any mammal fiber.  Alpaca sweaters are expensive compared to the Asian made synthetic sweaters, but if we returned to the days when each person had only two or three sweaters which they wore year after year, people could afford alpaca garments. It would take a new mindset. In Peru, alpaca sweaters are handed down from generation to generation. 

 

Alpacas are 'green' animals.  They eat less per pound of body weight of any grazing animal. They drink less, too.  Their feet are pads with two toenails and don't crush plants underfoot.  They are quiet.  Their efficient digestive system turns out rich manure that grows amazing vegetables. We must fertilize our fields that produce crops from time to time. I hate the idea of using chemical and oil based fertilizers on our food crops.  The use of manure that is a byproduct of slaughterhouses is even worse.  There is Milorganite which is human feces recycled.  Another possibility is manure from fiber producing alpacas and llamas that live out their lives in a very natural way and also using their fleece which must be shorn. Rather than exploiting animals, I look at this as more of a symbiotic relationship. They get everything they need to live a happy, natural life and we get useful manure and fleece.  I see this as less exploitive than keeping dogs and cats as indoor pets, only to go out on a leash, though I do understand your comment that people rescue dogs and cats to give them good lives. 

 

Our three dogs are rescue dogs and both are cats are rescues, too.  As with most people, we find we have strong emotional bonds with our dogs and cats.  The same is true with our alpacas.  We know them personally.  They all have names which they respond to.  As I said previously, they are highly intelligent - smarter than dogs, I believe. They are problem solvers to an extent. They have rich emotional lives. They are more cat like than dog like in their approach to people:  they want to approach on their own terms.  If you respect that, you earn their trust, even friendship.  For me, there is nothing like taking a veggie stuffed pita and a sketch pad out to the alpaca pens and sitting and eating with them, then sketching them as they lie and chew their cuds, humming a peaceful alpaca conversation.  Every once in a while, one will come over and lie down next to me and hum.  On a really lucky day, she'll reach her head out and rest it on my knee.

 

The main product is their fleece which is amazing and, once again, it must be shorn to keep the alpaca healthy.  Shearing takes 10 - 30 minutes once a year depending on who does it. The fleece does not have lanolin so no heavy washing is necessary like it is when removing lanolin from sheep's wool -  this is environmentally sound. They are hardy animals that don't need much besides an annual shearing, fences to keep out predator dogs, a grassy yard with hay to supplement that, water and a minimal shelter to live a very natural life for them. That's the way they live, allowed to live in a natural state with two exceptions:  shearing and shelter.  These are extra benefits which we provide.

 

When we bought our first alpacas they were officially classified as "exotic animals."  Seven or eight years later, my heart sank when alpacas were reclassified as livestock.  In our country, most livestock are eaten. I hope that the reclassifying is not a step to an alpaca slaughter industry in this country.  An unintended result of the reclassification was the fact that in many areas, people could no longer keep two or three alpacas on their land - zoning laws that allow horses on 2-5 acres parcels often forbid 'livestock' and now that includes alpacas.  How nice it would be if people could keep a few alpacas on their five acres, letting the alpacas graze on their grass and shearing their fleece annually.  Warm, strong environmentally friendly clothes that last and last could be made by those families. I'd like to see more vegans like me, if I may call myself that, be able to keep alpacas.  I'd like to see vegetarians and vegans like me who view this issue through the lens of animal welfare, good health and a strong environmental conscience promote alpaca fiber as cruelty-free and species friendly and appropriate. 

 

I have REALLY wandered here.  As I said, I understand your comment about dogs and cats being adopted/rescued to give them homes.  Hopefully, these are 'good' homes.  In no way are they natural homes for the species and in that way, I suppose, it is exploitative.  Keeping alpacas on a few acres is giving them a natural life for their species.  (They are content to graze in the same area; as far as I know, they are not a migratory species.) In addition to a natural environment, they get protection and they get the necessary shearing.  I don't see that as exploitative.  As I said before, I set that as a symbiotic relationship.

 

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#18 Old 02-24-2014, 09:00 PM
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If I had a really fuzzy critter that needed a hair cut during the summer I wouldn't see a problem in using its fur.

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#19 Old 02-25-2014, 02:54 AM
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As a vegan I'm still against the direct use of animals for human needs/desires, whether it's taking their fur, their eggs, or their lives.  Exploiting animals, even if done humanely and caring for the animal, is still exploiting the animal for our interest.  There are still many issues that surround using these animals, including breeding, abandonment, profit, providing enough space (which in turn may displace other animals), etc.  There are so many unwanted animals in the world who need homes and love and attention that I just don't understand the need to breed and bring into the world yet more animals simply for the purpose of entertainment or their hair or whatever.  If I were to choose to sell my hair to help someone else that is my choice.  But I couldn't ask the same for a dog or another animal. It gets trickier with medical research and animals but it's still the same principle.   Animals are not commodities.  They are living breathing sentient beings with their own interests.  There are also natural plant fibers that provide what we need, such as hemp.  I live in a very cold climate and have done well keeping warm with hemp socks and shoes.  Hemp is also a great plant that grows in many conditions and is environmentally friendly.

 

I also think it's different when the animal is rescued and cared for in a place like Farm Sanctuary where it is not exploited for it's eggs or hair or any other reason.  The animal is allowed to live out it's life unconditionally within the confines of that environment.  Any money made by charging visitors a fee to these places more than likely goes to caring for the sheer number of rescued animals there and to keep up the property and also to educate others about animals.  To me that is far different than selling their eggs or hair.  Those people sacrifice so much to help those animals, and their entire lives are dedicated to those animals and their cause.

 

Looking at the following links just disturbs me all the more, though I realize, much like "pet" owners, there are people who are very caring and responsible towards their alpacas and other animals.  Unfortunately they can fall into the wrong hands all too easily.

 

http://www.kptv.com/story/24692045/alpacas-rescued-from-farm

 

http://www.occupyforanimals.org/alpaca.html

 

I am certainly not going to condemn someone as not vegan for simply having these animals.I admire anyone who can take the time and sacrifice to care for animals.  I'm not perfect or self righteous by any means. But I do think veganism is more than simply not killing or abusing an animal.  The ideal would be to not breed animals at all and to allow them to live in their natural environment and share ours as necessary, but I understand that our world is far from perfect.


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#20 Old 02-25-2014, 08:10 AM
 
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I think the problem is not that it can not be done ethically, but that when there are profit motives involved, there is a bad tendency.

 

Any profit motivated entity will have a tendency to cut corners, deliberately or not, and that is at the expense of the animals.

 

It's kind of like journalism:

 

When journalism relies on advertisers, or the journalist will be making more or less money based on what they write/report, objectivity is highly compromised.

 

Maybe some journalists will write what they were going to write anyway no matter what, come hell or high water- but that's not the tendency.

Even if they feel like they'll do that, and they're consciously trying to do that, as long as they know they'll profit from a certain opinion, or could suffer from another opinion, there is a creeping subconscious push towards that outlook that infects the opinions of even the most objective writers.

 

 

How do we separate profit from farming?

 

I don't know.  We still haven't even figured out how to reliably do it with journalism.

 

The day Fox News is actually "fair and balanced" is the day I'll consider that profitable ethical animal agriculture might be possible (that is, once we solve the issue of accountability for precedence of objectivity over profit in Journalism, It may become possible in more material fields).

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