The 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.
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.
If 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.
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!