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
When 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 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.