AlpacaNation Q&A with Alpacas By The Sea
Victoria & Ken Hibbits
1162 Tamarind St., P.O. Box 371268, Montara, CA 94037
AlpacaNation: How long have you been in the alpaca business?
Alpacas By The Sea: We have been breeding and selling Alpacas since 1992. We love alpacas and now operate as a purely
family based ranch with an emphasis on enjoyment!
AlpacaNation: How did you become interested in alpacas?
Alpacas By The Sea: At the time we had a small property and we wanted to find some type of livestock where we could enjoy
and raise on our small ranch. Since we were not interested in raising horses which our property was et
up for when we bought it, we began the search. We began to search for a smaller type of animal where
we could start a small herd. Our next requirement was that we had to be able to handle the animal on
our own, often without my husband around since his travels could take him out of town. Then one of
my co-workers asked if I had heard of Llamas or Alpacas. His mother raised them both at her small
ranch! I went for my first visit and became an alpaca owner the same day! We love Llamas but
alpacas were just Perfect! Love at first sight you might say!
AlpacaNation: How did you decide on your farm name? Is there a special meaning behind the name?
Alpacas By The Sea: We were trying to come up with a name that would allow customers to visualize where we lived. Since
we are only a few blocks back from the ocean and the alpacas seem to love the Pacific Ocean breezes
and lovely view - Alpacas By The Sea seemed appropriate.
AlpacaNation: Do you have a favorite Alpaca? Why is it your favorite?
Alpacas By The Sea: Oh! Yes we have many. For example one is named Dusty. She has always been the family favorite.
We go out of my way to kiss her or just touch her back whenever we walk by. She is a calm and
gentle - a lovely Silver Grey female. When we lost a mother during a dystocia delivery, this mother
of a six week old cria of her own took on another baby and nursed both of them at the same time.
What a Great Mom!
It was thrilling to see her nursing a Suri baby on one side (smaller by six weeks) and a Huacaya
baby on the other side.
It left such a mark on me that I decided that I had to write an article and place it in the Alpacas
Magazine for others to read and enjoy. The name of the article was “Grafting Crias to a Foster Dam”
It was an emotional experience for me. However, it was also a practical lesson in herd dynamics.
Please read it. It is on our web site listed under Our Press.
Bottom line, many years later I still love Dusty to thi
AlpacaNation: What steps did you take to prepare for raising an alpaca herd?
Alpacas By The Sea: We made every attempt to address the following concerns before animals arrived at our ranch. We also
found that we continually improve the ranch and husbandry infrastructure as new needs arise.
- Safe & Practical Fencing
- Functional Catch Pens & Corridors
- Functional Creep Feeders for the Crias
- Reliable Automatic Watering System
- Alpaca Appropriate Feeders - Designed for Happy Alpacas
- Alpaca Appropriate Shelters for Many Conditions and Husbandry Requirements
AlpacaNation: Tell us about yourself...
Alpacas By The Sea: Alpacas By The Sea - We are a family alpaca ranch - Kenny, Victoria, McKinley and Sunny Hibbits.
We raise Suri and Huacaya Alpacas. We like music, surfing, skiing, climbing, and going to Yosemite,
Lake Tahoe and Maui. We like to have fun and enjoy watching our alpacas do the cool things they do.
We work hard And we play hard! We like to go places together. We like to laugh! We have a little bit of
Redneck in us. We enjoy seeing wildlife and being outside. We love Big Sur! We are 49er Fans! We
are Giants fans! We are Warrior fans! We are Tarheel fans! We Love it when Appalachian State wins.
We love having new crias. We love naming them. We banter about what names are best. We like it
when they pronk. We like it when they Hum. We like showing alpacas. We help alpaca folk to "Realize
AlpacaNation: What advice would you give to those just getting started in the industry?
Alpacas By The Sea: Get Started Today! If you like alpacas buy some companion alapcas. If you like owning them, then
maybe you will become a breeder. If you start a ranch keep your costs and stress low and focus on
enjoying the good life!
AlpacaNation: Describe your first alpaca purchase... would you do anything differently today?
Alpacas By The Sea: Pure impulse! We wouldn't change a thing!
Start at the top of the price list instead of the bottom. You'll get over it!
AlpacaNation: What has been the most helpful advice you have received from your veterinarian?
Alpacas By The Sea: Please do Not link events or symptoms together that have absolutely nothing to do with one another!
"Go to bed and check on her in the morning"
"OK if you must - when you do inevitably wake up - just go out and look in on them - they are usually
"If you want an alpaca to live forever, Geld him"!
"Please, just leave the poor thing alone for today"!!
"Don't feed them too much"!
AlpacaNation: What unique challenges do you face as a small, mid-size, or larger breeder?
Alpacas By The Sea: The alpaca business is not a one size fits all affair. Scalability is one of the best aspects of the
enterprise and provides success at many levels. The right size is the size that makes you and the
alpacas happy. Bigger is not necessarily better. Having more acreage makes management easier,
more relaxed and less problematic. Overcrowding quickly becomes a husbandry burden. Good herd
distribution and nutrition are great for overall herd health and vitality. Fresh grass is always seems
better to the alpacas than what is in the barn! Having a larger herd makes the breeding process more
dynamic providing better herd progress feedback and allows the breeder to experience a wider
distribution of outcomes. This also provides a larger inventory. Herd evolution is slow, so plan to make
each breeding count! Remember, you constantly select alpacas in And out of the herd. Always focus
on quality and better breed pairings. This is always important regard
AlpacaNation: How do you see your farm and alpaca business growing over the next 5 to 10 years?
Alpacas By The Sea: We have been raising alpacas for almost 20 years. In the next 10 years I hope we simply get better at
the craft of breeding great alpacas.
AlpacaNation: What sets your farm and herd apart from others in the industry?
Alpacas By The Sea: We began our journey focused on South America. Victoria was selected as one of five ARI Phenotypic
Screeners from the USA. This was an exciting step in learning about exactly what makes the world's
best alpacas so great. The training was rigorous and gave us an excellent foundation to begin our
alpaca enterprise. Ken is an AOA Certified Alpaca Judge and is certified in all disciplines. This
experience and dedication sets us apart from other ranches because we have often experienced many
of the challenges alpaca ranching can often create. We can help new and experienced breeders alike to
"Realize Their Dreams". Over the years we have bred and raised a beautiful herd of both Suri and
Huacaya alpacas and have enjoyed successful sales and show results. Lastly, we follow up with what
we like to call Gold Standard Customer Service and Guarantees.
We also recognize how important it is for our customers to be successful.
If they are successful, then we
AlpacaNation: What has been your biggest lesson learned in terms of breeding?
Alpacas By The Sea: Who is the most successful alpaca breeder? The one who is having the most fun! What else? Sharing
the rewards of alpaca ownership with others far and wide! Keep the dreams alive and enjoy the simple
love an alpaca each day. What a life!!
Breeding "Like" To "Like" Does Not Always Yield Improvements in the Offspring.
AlpacaNation: If you could change one aspect of the Alpaca industry what would it be? Why?
Alpacas By The Sea: We would not change much at all. Perhaps we would enjoy seeing more ranches at alpaca shows and
the AOA National Conference. We would also like to see more American families own alpacas for
enjoyment. We are also keen to see new outlets for alpaca products and services. All natural 100%
Made In The USA Home Grown Alpacas! What a great niche! There are still great opportunities for new
and exciting ventures in our growing field.
AlpacaNation: Any embarrassing moments you would like to share?
Alpacas By The Sea: Yes, I remember about ten years ago, when my husband and I were transporting a couple of lovely
alpacas from Southern California to our Northern California in the San Francisco Bay Area. We used
a van at the time since we had a small herd of 10 or so alpacas. We found a van very easy to
transport a few animals from here to there. Lift them in the back and off we went.
I remember my husband bragging away about how alpacas had not spit on him on the entire trip. He
had crafted such a perfect interaction with them that they each had a special respect for one another.
It was at the very moment that he finished this statement that one of the bred dams lifted her head
and spit all over him. "Minstrel" hit him right in the back of his head. Good shot! His head was now
outlined in green on the front windshield! He had no idea that this was coming. I remember this as if
it was yesterday.
We have laughed about this for years! BTW, this hasn
AlpacaNation: What is your greatest achievement or favorite memory since you started raising alpacas?
Alpacas By The Sea: Our most rewarding experiences came in Peru when we visited the Altiplano and saw firsthand how alpacas really live in South America. We felt honored to call these hearty alpaca folk our friends and we shared the joy of raising alpacas in surprising and exciting ways. We learned from them and they learned from us and we had those special moments that only those who know their herds like family can truly understand. Years later we still enjoy the rewards and challenges of this unique and uncommon pursuit. The best is always yet come . . . Right?
AlpacaNation: How long do you expect to be in the Alpaca business?
Alpacas By The Sea: Well now twenty years now and counting - and we are still enjoying alpacas! "Until we can no longer
physically do it" is perhaps the best answer.
We love it, it is a great passion, our children love it and we have wonderful friends all along the way to
show for it. Now, why would we want to leave all this behind?
AlpacaNation: What do you tell prospective buyers who look at the small profit the alpaca fiber produces compared to the daunting prices of alpacas?
Alpacas By The Sea: As the market evolves there are economic and growth challenges and benchmarks. The USA market
awareness for alpaca goods and fiber production is growing and gaining popularity. The key to
maximizing this growth is recognizing that market change is a key leverage variable. Market growth and
future potential can only be obtained as we learn to embrace change and find new and innovative ways
to expand and create a sustaining national enterprise. This is not easy! The economy is tough these
days. The challenge is to balance economic change and create new market awareness to develop new
channels of potential opportunity while keeping costs low. Fiber production and finished goods are only
a part of the picture. We need to look to other sustainable farming industries to incorporate new ideas
and break the old rules to create new markets for alpaca fiber and fiber related goods and services. The
only way to get to Wall Street is by way of Main Street. Sp
AlpacaNation: How do you see the industry developing as the U.S. market grows rapidly?
Alpacas By The Sea: Transforming a cottage business into a growing national industry is an exciting common goal.
Recognizing the value of fiber production at the craft level provided by mini-mills and local ranches is
now a grass roots reality. We need to augment this production with other collective sources and Co-Op
options to build market strength and stability. We also need to leverage the muscle of South American
sources of finished goods inventory while preserving the economic value of the family ranch. This is no
small feat! We need to make small ranches productive and profitable. To that end, we need to be
sourcing new end uses for raw fiber. We also need to embrace the benefits of sound livestock practice
while maintaining a good community consciousness. We see more and more people beginning to
recognize the beauty of the Suri Alpaca. Other activities include stacking store shelves and making
alpaca a true competitor to other fabrics and marketing to new