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Foothills alpaca farmer looking to rebuild after fire

A GoFundMe page has raised more than $40,000 since a barn fire near Millarville killed eight alpacas and a dog in October 2023.

A Foothills alpaca farm is looking to rebuild after a catastrophic fire last year.

Prairie Spirit Alpacas, located near Millarville, suffered a barn fire on Oct. 11, 2023, losing eight alpacas and a livestock dog to the blaze.

The barn, which burnt to the ground, is necessary to keep the South American animals warm during the winter, said owner Carmen Jadick.

"Alpacas come from the mountains in the Andes, so our climate here is similar to where they come from, but if it gets colder than minus 25, they really should be inside a shelter," she said.

"We're really lucky that this year was a warmer winter than historical, but I will need a better shelter for them for this winter coming up."

Once a new barn is built, Jadick will be using alpaca fleece for insulation. 

"I'm hoping over the summer to get it together and at least have the frame done and then maybe put the sides on closer to the winter," she said.

Beyond providing warmth to the animals, having a shelter will be necessary for their well-being in many other ways.

"It's also a management problem because I don't have anywhere I can gather them to, it's harder to gather them when they're out in the pasture, to do any herd health or checking or anything like that," she said.

Home to about 200 Huacaya alpacas, the farm prides itself on being ethical and respectful towards its animals — all baby alpacas, known as crias, are raised alongside their mothers and family units.

"Some people cull the old ones... on my farm, I don't cull them," said Jadick. "If they're too old to [reproduce], I can still make products from their fleece, but they're just not in my breeding program."

Jadick is continuing to fundraise for a new alpaca shelter through a GoFundMe that was put up by friend Jennie Shipley. Since October of last year, the page has raised nearly $41,000 of its $100,000 goal.

"It's not really that active anymore, but I'm grateful for all the donations I've already received, and I know people in the community have really supported me," said Jadick.

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips or questions about his articles, Amir can be reached at [email protected].
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