Great Tips On Starting An Alpaca Farm

Great Tips On Starting An Alpaca Farm

Alpacas are some of the rarest and most amazing farm animals in America. They prefer colder climates but easily adapt to the warmer summer climates of seasonal areas. They originate from the Andes Mountains but they have dense areas of population an many areas of the world.  They are frequently thought of as mini llamas but are not pack animals like the llama at all and in fact, they make much nicer pets than the llama. Here is a look at some of the tips on starting an alpaca farm:

How much land?

First things first! When starting an alpaca farm, before you even buy the alpaca, you will need to set up a section of land that will accommodate them. Alpaca are pack animals by nature. To accommodate their natural living preferences, you will want to have a decent amount of land. Depending on the farmer and the pack, an acre of land can accommodate from 5-10 alpaca comfortably. In general the larger the area the better you can separate areas for rotational grazing. If you only about an acre, don’t be discouraged. Alpaca aren’t likely to ruin your lawn but if you don’t have the space to rotate, consider supplementing your alpaca with hay or grain.  The one separation that is a must to prevent unwanted breeding is a male pen and a female pen. When you are preparing the land, keep in mind that there are some plants that will be toxic to these animals. Some plants like poppies, buckwheat and acorns are poisonous to alpacas, so you will want to remove them around the land that you have prepared.

Build a barn

Alpacas need a barn so that they have somewhere to eat and sleepWhen you have your land ready, the next thing you will want to do is construct a barn that will act as a shelter for the alpacas. You will not need to worry about the cold winter season, since they have a thick fur that will keep them warm. However, you will still need to construct a barn for extra protection, especially during the summer. The barn will create a shelter that will keep them cool and away from the direct sunlight, which can be uncomfortable for them. Ensure that you choose good material that will be u for the roof of the barn. It should be able to help control the temperature. Avoid using iron sheets as the roofing materials for the barn.

Enclose the land with a fence

You are going to need to put up a fenceYou will also need to ensure that you have secured your land with the right fence. The alpacas will behave like any other animal, whereby, they would walk out of the secluded zone. For that, you will need to erect a fence around the land. The fence should be between 4 and a half to 5 feet tall. You can either use boards or woven wire, which should be no more than 4 inches apart. This will prevent the possibilities of having their head stuck in between the boards. You can use the no-climb fence, along with electric wire that is placed on the outside, bottom and top, for the sake of keeping intruders and predators away.

Find a Reliable veterinarian

When you have mastered starting an alpaca farm, you will want to find a veterinarian that has knowledge about the alpacas. Ensure that the vet is near, for the sake of checkups, emergencies and other routine shots. It is advised to seek professional help, in case you are not capable of delivering such services yourself. For the sake of routine checkups, you can learn from the professional and carry them later on your own. This will help you save up money that you would spend to hire the professional for the services.

Create a business plan

When you have checked that the land is ready, along with the necessary features put into place, you will now be ready to start your business. A business plan will be an important aspect that you will want to consider. When creating the business plan for the alpacas, here are some factors you will want to include;
• The mission. You will want to define what you would achieve from the alpacas, whether you will just keep them as pets, or you will sell them full-time.
• Business service/product. Consider how you would breed the alpacas.
• The marketing plan. Determine how other people, who are interested in the animals, will know about them.
• The competition. Ensure you know who your competitor is and what defines them.
• Risks and opportunities. Specify the things that can go wrong and what are the opportunities that you would capture.
• The capital requirements. Specify the number of alpacas that you will need to start an alpaca farm, in relation to the cost of each alpaca. Calculate the cost of fencing and other supplies. You should also include the calculation of the promotion and advertising as well as the creation of a website. A website will be quite vital, since you will market your alpacas easier.
• The Projected gross farm income. Here, you will include the expenses and revenue of the first, through the fourth year. This will help you determine if you are making profits or losses.
• The herd plan. Here, you will need to categorize the herd of alpacas that you have, in relation to the female and male breeds. Ensure that you categorize the alpaca that sells most, whether male or female. This will help you know what to invest in most. You should also indicate the alpacas that require more attention, in terms of care and medication. This should be presented and compared in the first, through the fourth year.
• The cash flow and break even analysis. This will be very vital to determine when you started making profits and if the cash flow is reliable enough.

Advice when raring alpacas

Typically, the alpacas tend to be tolerant animals, meaning that they can bear any health condition or discomfort for a long time, without you even realizing. This implies that if they have any disease, they will endure it and it would be too late once you notice symptoms. For that reason, it is highly advised to always perform routine checkups on the alpacas, to ensure that their health is good. This will help you save your alpacas and avoid any possible deaths, which will be a negative effect on the business.

The Difference Between Proven and Unproven Alpaca

Breeding Alpaca is essentialThe difference between proven and unproven Alpaca is whether they have carried a baby Alpaca, or a Cria, full term. This is a term is typically how sellers will classify a female Alpaca they are selling. If they can say that she has successfully birthed a young Cria, it will allow the seller to be comfortable that they can breed her.

This is important because some Alpaca have trouble with birthing. Classifying a female as proven or unproven stops breeders from selling a female Alpaca that failed to reproduce and say “you never asked”. Most reliable breeders will give you a guarantee of live birth to ensure you that they are confident in the animal you are buying.

It is important to remember that an unproven Alpaca does not mean that they cannot reproduce, it means they have never been bred. If a female Alpaca has failed to reproduce then they will be considered a “pet” or “fiber” Alpaca. Successfully carrying a Cria full term means that they are consider a “proven Alpaca”.

If you are looking to be a proven Alpaca then you should always ask more questions on the topic. They are considered proven as long as they have a single live birth. That does not mean that they didn’t leave the new Cria in the barn and hoped never to see it again.

Remember that an Alpaca is not considered unproven if the Cria passes away the next day because the mother did not produce any milk. Make sure that you ask about how she did with milk and how were her mothering skills. It doesn’t help to have a proven Alpaca if they do not survive!

How It Affects The Price Of An Alpaca

The Difference Between Proven and Unproven AlpacaPeople that are looking to begin their own Alpaca farm will want to purchase females that they can breed to expand their herd. They are looking for the best female proven Alpaca that they can find so that they produce the best offspring. If the females they purchase cannot reproduce, that is a huge blow to how many Alpaca they will be able to reproduce.

As we mentioned before, most new breeders look for “live birth” clauses in writing when purchasing a proven Alpaca. This is essentially a warrantee saying that the new female will have a live birth and produce a live Cria. If they do not, the selling will buy back the Alpaca or allow for another stud from any male Alpaca free of charge.

If an Alpaca is proven, then it is worth more money because you can say they it will produce more Alpaca. This allows you to charge a higher price for the Alpaca than you could on an unproven Alpaca.

An Unproven Alpaca has not produced a Cria yet, but they have also not tried. This does not mean that the breeder doesn’t believe that they can. Typically it means that the farm they live in is short on space and they are not actively breeding every animal possible.

They are worth less because they cannot be sold with the guarantee that they will reproduce successfully. That makes them less desirable to someone who is looking to start their own breeding program.

Conclusion

If you are looking to start your own Alpaca farm that includes breeding then you will want to pay the extra for a proven Alpaca. There is no promise that an unproven Alpaca is going be able to help you expand like you plan. You will be rolling the dice on them and chancing that they cannot reproduce. The extra cost is almost always better than taking the risk.

 

The Benefits Of Owning An Alpaca Farm

Breeding Alpaca is essentialMany people have never heard of Alpaca’s and just assume they are a type of Llama. While they are similar in some ways, you aren’t likely to find a llama on an Alpaca farm. Alpaca’s are considerably smaller and are not used as “beasts of burden”, or animals that are meant to carry heavy loads.

Llamas tend to be a few hundred pounds heavier than Alpaca’s, and up to 2 feet taller. They also have ears that are shaped like a banana, while Alpaca’s have straight ears.

Alpaca’s are breed and kept for the fiber that they produce which can be spun and turned into yarn, much like a sheep. That yarn is then knitted into hats, gloves, blankets, scares, sweaters, dolls, and a variety of other high quality products.

In their native country of Peru, there are 52 natural Alpaca colors recognized. Her in The United States, we only recognize 16 of those colors.

While Alpaca’s are fairly new to The United States, they have actually been domesticated for thousands of years. The Moche, of northern Peru, have been breeding Alpaca for as far back as we can tell. Alpaca can be seen in art from all periods in which the Moche are known to exist.

Some Alpacas are friendlier than othersThere are no Alpaca known to live in the wild, strictly reserved for living on an Alpaca farm. The closest known relative of the Alpaca is the wild Vicuna. The Vicuna is also native to South America and is well known for producing soft fiber. Both Alpaca and Vicuna are members are classified as camelids, in the same ground as camels.

Alpacas are also social heard animals and cannot be expect to live alone. They are considered pray animals and they will always run from a fight if they can. If they need to defend themselves, they can kick and spit. While an Alpaca kick is not as deadly as a kick from hooves animals, because they have two soft padded toes, it will still leave a good bruise.

Breeding Your Alpaca

There is a lot to look at when you are breeding an Alpaca, but keep in mind that it is not an exact science. We have included a few considerations that you should think about

Herd Size

The Benefits Of Owning An Alpaca FarmYou don’t want to be put in a position where you have more Alpaca’s than you have room for on your Alpaca Farm. If you purchase 4 pregnant female Alpaca’s, then keep in mind that you are really purchasing 8 Alpaca’s that you will need room for. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you only need room for 4.

Another thing to consider when looking at the herd size on your Alpaca farm is bloodlines. You can’t breed two animals from the same bloodline. This is important if you purchase a package of Alpaca from another farm to expand from. If they are all related and you breed them from three related males at another farm, you will end up with a bunch of Alpaca’s that are all distance relatives and can’t breed.

Color

Some farms look to end up with all of the same color or few designated colors. It can be difficult to keep to specific colors with breeding, but it helps to look at the family lineage. It will be near impossible to know what color you are going to get, but you may be able to narrow it down a little.

If you discover that neither the dam nor the sire have ever produced a silver baby, than you are safe to bet that the result is not going to be gray. Some Alpaca’s have also been known to produce certain colors more often than other colors depending on the sires color. We once knew of a brown dam that would produce the same silver as the sire without fail.

Characteristics

This a very friendly AlpacaThere are several desirable characteristics found in Alpaca that can be desirable. You want to keep an eye on all of them and breed with animals that have something that yours don’t. That is the way to improve the quality of the animals in your herd.

Fleece characteristics are a good example of something that you will want to pay attention to. If both parents exhibit good coverage, density, crimp, and fineness, then you are likely to have offspring that have the same. If every Alpaca on your Alpaca farm has great characteristics, then you will be able to keep the quality of your fleece very high.

Other characteristics that you can look for have to do with showing your animal. These can include size, stature, and bight. Your Alpaca can produce the best fleece on earth but it won’t matter if they are the smallest Alpaca on earth as well.

Raising Alpacas For Profit And Fun

Raising Alpacas For Profit And FunThe Alpaca industry is booming in The United States at the moment. With a cutoff of new animals coming in and a relatively slow reproduction rate, large companies find it to be a waster for time. This makes raising Alpacas the perfect business venture for small business entrepreneurs.

Alpaca’s are one of the only farm animals that can pay for their own care every year. They produce a large amount of wool that is highly sought after and can be sold at a premium. This can pay for the feed, housing, and medical bills of keeping the animal healthy and happy.

If your Alpacas reproduce, then you will have even more wool to sell and more animals to reproduce with. If you are looking to recoup some of the cost of purchasing the Alpaca, then you can sell some of the offspring. They can be sold for high profits if they are breed from high quality parents.

Many Alpaca breeders become addicted to Alpacas because of the profit potential and friendly nature of the animal. They are shy in nature but will sometimes let you give them a scratch or give you shy kisses. They are great with kids and don’t seem to have a problem with most other animals.

It is also important to understand that Alpacas are social pack animals. If you plan on raising Alpacas, then you need to make sure that you always keep them in a small pack to stay safe. If you separate an Alpaca from the pack for a long period of time, they are likely to get sick and show signs of distress.

The most important part about raising Alpaca’s is to have a business plan to begin with. Whether you are going to buy 10 of the most expensive Alpaca’s you can find or get 3 that a local farm is looking to get rid of, you need to have a plan.

The Business Plan

A business plan is important in any business venture, just as it is with starting an Alpaca farm. You want to make sure that you set yourself up for success from the start if you plan on succeeding in the long run. Find out what kind of Alpaca business you want to run and then branch out into a plan from there.

What niche are you going to look to fulfill. The cottage industry wants all natural deep colored Alpaca fiber, while the industrial section prefers white so that it can be dyed. Most farms look to focus on a few select colors and sell off anything outside of that range.

There are two major business plans when it comes to raising Alpacas for profit. The first is to reproduce as many Alpaca as possible and keep costs at a bare minimum to profit off of the wool while supplementing by selling large amounts of Alpacas in packages. They other plan is to have a smaller amount of very high quality Alpaca’s to start and reproduce with so that you have and produce higher quality stock.

Quantity

If you have a large amount of space and limited funds, then you probably want to breed for quantity over quality. Look to start with a few cheap breeding Alpaca while paying attention mainly to the quality of the fiber that they are producing. You don’t need to care much about the “conformation”, or body aesthetics. It doesn’t matter how straight your Alpacas teeth are when the yarn is being sold at a swap meet.

Your goal here is to get breeders in their prime from several different bloodlines. This will allow you to breed within your own animals over and over again without repeating bloodlines. If all your Alpaca are related, you will need to look elsewhere to impregnate your females.

Quality

Are you looking to raise Alpaca for quality or quantityIf you have limited space and/or a higher budget to start with, then you should look to breed the highest quality Alpaca possible. High quality Alpaca produce a larger amount of more valuable fiber than the bottom end animals. If you plan on raising Alpaca with a limited amount of space, then you will need to maximize your earnings per space used.

Look to start out with a few of the highest quality Female Alpaca you can afford to buy. The overall goal is to have Alpaca that show all of the highest value qualities in Alpaca. Starting with the highest quality possible will mean that you already have most of these qualities in your herd. Some of these qualities include:

  • Color (some colors are more desirable than others)
  • Fleece quality and quantity
  • Teeth structure and bite
  • Good bone density and structure
  • Good heritage or lineage

The second step to this is having your Alpaca and its fiber graded at Alpaca conventions and local fairs. This will verify to others that you are raising Alpacas that are “the cream of the crop” and should fetch a high dollar amount. If you can later say that one of your young Alpaca is fathered by a 10 time nation male color champion and mothered by a 5 time national female quality champion, you can charge a high premium.

You will still want to breed your high quality Alpaca so that you can sell them. This is going to be where you make most of your money in the long run. It’s a good idea, as mentioned above, to pick a color or two and focus on that. Sell the rest for top dollar because they are high quality, just not the color you are looking for.

Conclusion

Raising Alpaca can be a profitable venture if you know what you are doing from the beginning. If you have 500 square feet and go out to buy the cheapest Alpaca you can find, it will still be fun, but you are quickly going to learn what we talked about here. If you really want to make sure that you are ready to start your next adventure, check out some of our other articles and follow us on social media!

How much does an alpaca cost?

How much does this cute Alpaca costIn order to really answer the question, how much does and Alpaca cost, you will need to know that the fiber they produce is worth a good amount of money alone. The more and better quality that is produced, the more money can be made. These are the factors that can help us answer the underlying question of “How much does an alpaca cost?”:

Color

Color is a big selling point for Alpaca breeders because some colors are much more desirable than others. Right now, all of the grays are much more sought after than any other colors. Brown seems to be the least desirable color from our experience.

You will also hear Alpaca breeders tell you that white is the only color that matters. This is because white can be died to any other color imaginable. Others are more concerned with natural colors and find them more desirable.

Conformation

When considering how much an Alpaca should cost, conformation is something that you should consider. This is a term that is used describe the correctness of body structure in the animal. There are a lot of qualities that go into the conformation, but we will only list a few.

  • Good teeth structure
  • Good bone density
  • Back legs spread apart instead of close together

Fleece Quality and Quantity

Since Alpacas are raised and bred for their fleece, it would make sense that an Alpaca with more fleece is worth more. If you are looking for an Alpaca to start your farm with, then you want to start with one that produces a large amount of high quality fleece. If an Alpaca produces twice as much fleece per square inch as another one, then it will cost double.

Age

This is one of the most obvious factors that can affect the cost of an Alpaca. Most people don’t go out and look to purchase a car that is already 20 years old, so why would you do the same with an Alpaca. Alpaca’s generally live to 20 – 25 years old, so animals over 15 will look significant value.

One of the most important factors for most people look to find out how much does and Alpaca is breeding. Females typically have a reproductive life of between 10 and 16 years starting at 18 months old. If you are looking primarily to produce offspring for profit, then the value of a female Alpaca is going to drop off a percentage every year older it gets.

Another thing to consider is that the fleece tends to drop off in both quality and quantity as the Alpaca gets older. The older they get, the less profit that are going to produce on a yearly basis.

Gender and Breeding Results

Alpaca Conformation is important for deciding costGender is an important factor when valuing an Alpaca because most people the buy are looking to breed. If you want to start your own Alpaca farm, then you are probably looking to buy quality females. You can always pay a stud fee to get your females pregnant, but its not common for people to do it the other way around.

One huge quality that is going to help answer the question of how much does and Alpaca cost is whether they are proven on unproven. A proven female Alpaca means that they have had and supported a young cria with no issues. Some females cannot support having children and you will see them sold as “pet” or “fiber” Alpacas.

If they have not had babies before, they will be listed as unproven. This does not mean that they cannot have babies; it just means that they have never tried. These animals will be priced between the proven females and those that are just sold as pets.

Heritage or Lineage

The bloodline is obviously a huge factor when it comes to how much an Alpaca costs. An Alpaca that comes from a bloodline that has more desirable qualities is going to be worth more. The more direct relation they have to previous champions, the more they are worth.