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.

Alpaca Facts and FAQ

Is An Alpaca A Good Pet?
What do Alpacas Eat?
Do Alpacas Need to Be Fenced In??
Do Alpacas Need Shelter?
How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?
How Much Do Alpacas Weigh?
How Much Does An Alpaca Cost?
Do Alpacas Spit?

Is An Alpaca A Good Pet?

It depends on your definition of a pet. If you are looking for an animal that hangs out in the backyard without needing much care other than a feeding twice a day, than yes. They will be perfectly happy with you feeding them, going to work, and then feeding them again when you get home.

If you are looking for a pet that is going to come running to be pet when you pull in the driveway, then you don’t want an Alpaca. Alpacas are prey animals and are used to running away from anything that is not an Alpaca. They may get used to you enough that you can get a quick stroke in, but they will not come up and brush against you seeking attention. Read over our Alpaca Facts and then you can decide that answer for yourself.

What do Alpacas Eat?

What do Alpacas Eat?Alpacas are ruminants, or mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food. They eat vegetation all day and then regurgitate it so that it can be chewed again. This allows them to be very efficient digesters since they eat vegetation with very low protein and mineral count.

They are best fed with pasture grown grasses and whatever else they find. They will mow the grass for you without ripping up the roots, allowing the grass to grow back if you rotate pastures. They are best suited for low protein grasses and high protein foods will disrupt fiber production.

During winter months, and in areas without pastures, the answer to “what do Alpaca’s eat” is a little different. They will need to be fed with hay purchased from your local farming store. Second cut hay is almost always best for an Alpaca and supplemental grain may need to be added to balance the diet.

Do Alpacas Need Shelter?

Yes, Alpacas need shelter to shed them from natural elements and protect them from overheating. It is also a good idea to shelter them so that they can stay out of the rain and keep their fleece protected.

Depending on where you live, you might just need a run in shelter, or maybe a full blown barn. A run in shelter is perfect for areas that do not get too cold in the winter. Keep in mind that Alpaca are native to cold environments, but Antarctica might be a little much for them!

Do Alpacas Need to Be Fenced In?

If you have a large enough pasture area, a fence may not be absolutely necessary but it is always a good idea. Half of the reason for a fence is to keep your animals in but the other half is keep predators out. A good fence will keep the Coyotes, or whatever local predators you encounter, out of your farm.

Check with local farms to see what size fence is common in your area. They will be able to give you some good insight on what you need to be able to protect yourself so that you know what kind of fencing to purchase. We also have other great Alpaca facts on this page for your to check out.

How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?

How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?This depends largely on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to keep your costs low and feed strictly on pasture foods, then you will need to stay below 5-6 Alpacas per acre of land. If you are ok with purchasing hay and feeding them that way, then you can safely fit 15-20 Alpaca on a single acre of land.

Alpaca do not need much room and will mostly stick in a group with the rest of the heard. They need enough room to walk around and that’s just about it. As long as they can get away from each other if a fight erupts, then you should be all set.

How Much Do Alpacas Weigh?

A full grown Alpaca can range between 130 and 170 pounds. Full grown males will be on the high end of that range, while females are on the low end. They are large animals, but about half the size of a llama.

How Much Does An Alpaca Cost?

Alpaca prices vary greatly in price. If you are just looking for a pet or fiber producing Alpaca that is not going to breed or expand your farm, then you are looking to spend about $400 an animal. If you are looking to purchase animals that will breed and grow your farm, then you are going to spend a whole lot more.

Alpaca that are Proven (have breed successfully) are worth more money because they are known to have had a live birth and provide properly for their young. If they are unproven, they are still going to be higher in price than a pet, but you are taking a chance on whether or not they will breed.

Most people looking to start their own heard will purchase the best quality females that they can afford. The farm that sells them to you will typically get them pregnant for you as well. This way you are really purchasing 6 Alpaca instead of the 3 that you are bringing home. That farm will also help you get on your feet by providing answers to simple questions like “what to Alpacas eat” and “do Alpacas spit”.

Once you have read all of our Alpaca facts, head over to how much does an Alpaca costs for more great information on this topic.

Do Alpacas Spit?

Yes, Alpacas do spit when they feel threatened. Unlike Llamas though, Alpacas are not like to spit on humans unless you really make them mad. If you get spit on, you most likely got caught in the crossfire between two Alpacas that are arguing.

Thanks for Reading our list of Alpaca Facts, we hope to see you again sometime soon!

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.