There is a strong market for alpacas with stable prices. Unlike other exotic animals (like ostrich, llama or emus) there is an established Alpaca industry, and a demand for the end product ¡??C fleece).
They require small amounts of land. Because 6-8 alpacas require only 1 acre of pasture, they are ideal for small acreage farms.
There are established national and regional organizations and breeder associations to help newcomers learn the business. These organizations can lend valuable insight, contacts and resources to the help the new breeder get started.
Alpacas are fully insurable. Unlike the stock market.
They are easy to care for and maintain. No special skills required to begin. Aggisting (boarding) is also very common.
The chart below represents herd growth over a 10 year period.
Beginning at year 1 with 2 males and 5 pregnant females.
The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) serves breeders by promoting the wonders of alpacas, educating the public about alpacas, and providing marketing on a National level that benefits the individual alpaca owner.
The Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI) provides a state of the art breed registry using DNA analysis to establish pedigree.
The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America (AFCNA). Promotes and develops the North American Alpaca Fiber industry.
There is also a wealth of information available online. Internet groups are available where you can get answers from large and small Alpaca breeders to individual questions you may have. Alpacasite and Alpacamarket are two such groups available at groups.yahoo.com.
Regional breeder organizations can also provide you with a list of local breeders, most all of whom would welcome your visit. Here are a few available in the Pacific Northwest: www.alpacawa.org, www.pnaa.org, EVAA, CABA, and SOJAA. Why not call and schedule a visit today and start your Alpaca Adventure?
There are two types of Alpaca ownership: Active and Passive. An active owner refers to an owner that keeps possession of the alpacas on their property. A passive owner enjoys all the investment advantages of Alpacas ownership without actually taking possession of them by aggisting, or boarding them with another breeder. Each carries tax benefits.
Alpaca breeding allows for tax-deferred wealth building.
Alpacas bought for the purpose of breeding can be depreciated over a five year period for deduction against annual income.
Because the alpaca reproduces just one offspring each year, your investment grows annually and taxes are not paid until the alpacas are sold.
Active or "Hands-On" Ownership
By becoming an active owner, capitol improvements to your farm (ex: barns, fences, driveways, etc) can also be written off against annual income.
If alpacas are raised for profit as opposed to pets, all expenses can be written off against other income.
While your herd is being aggisted and building, you are able to take advantage of the fact that the value of your herd is greatly increasing (with each new birth) while the taxes are deferred until such time that you might sell an alpaca. Your expenses related to your growing herd are not deductible from your annual income, but are building for use as deductions against the future income on the sale of your breeding stock.
For more information (from the REAL experts) please request publication #225 (the Farmers Tax Guide) from your local IRS office.
Alpacas are members of the camel family, along with llamas, vicunas, and guanacos.
They come from the Andes Mountains mainly in Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
There are two breeds of alpacas:
Huacaya - the most common, having a very crimpy fleece that gives them a "fluffy" appearance
Suri - more rare, having a very silky hair-like fiber which grows in tight spirals and drapes down, giving them an elegant, slender appearance.
Alpacas live for an average of 15 - 25 years.
Alpacas gestation is approximately 11 1/2 months. They almost always give birth during daylight hours to a single baby, called a "cria", weighing between 12 and 20 pounds.
A full grown alpaca averages 150 pounds, and stands approximately 36¡¡À at the shoulders.
Alpacas are primarily raised for their fleece which is sheared once a year, yielding from 4 to 12 pounds per animal. Luxurious and soft, it is both warmer and stronger than most sheep wool, and is free of natural oils which may cause allergic reactions.
They browse pastures, and utilize community dung piles, making pasture and manure management easy. Because they have padded feet (not hooves) they are easy on the land.
Alpacas are easily handled, even by children. They are calm and easily trained. They are very inquisitive and intelligent.
Alpacas are very hardy, disease resistant, and adaptable to most climates, altitudes and conditions.
Alpacas only require fencing adequate to keep predators out. They don't challenge fences. Three sided shelters are usually adequate for alpacas since they prefer being in the open. Depending on your climate, birthing in cold weather may require more adequate shelter.
Alpaca are inexpensive to maintain, yet command premium prices, which makes them one of the world¡¯s finest livestock investments.
There are 22 internationally recognized colors of alpaca fiber, however approximately 95% of the worldwide alpaca population is white.
Female alpacas generally reach breeding age at between 1 and 2 years of age. Male alpacas become capable of reproduction between 2 and 3 years of age.
Alpaca are members of the South American camelid family which includes vicunas, guanacos, llamas, and camels. They were first imported in 1984.
Do they spit?
Alpacas are very social and intelligent creatures. Alpacas do spit, but normally just at each other. A female will spit off a male, refusing his advances if she is pregnant.
What do you do with alpacas?
Alpacas are raised for their cashmere-like fiber. Alpaca fiber is stronger, warmer, and lighter than sheep¡¯s wool with no itch. It comes in twenty-two natural colors.
Alpacas are raised to increase breeding stock. The U.S. herd is being built with an eye towards breeding for the best possible fleece characteristics.
Alpacas make great pets. Unfortunately, not all Alpacas can or should be bred. But, even those non-breeders make great pets and fiber producers!
Are they easy to care for?
They need only routine shearing, vaccinations, worming and toe trimming. A simple three sided shelter from heat or foul weather is all that is needed. They do not challenge fences thus elaborate compounds are not required.
What do they eat?
Alpacas are grazers and eat mainly pasture grass. It is a good idea to provide hay with supplemental grain for pregnant females and growing yearlings. Because they are ruminants they utilize their food very efficiently.
How long do they live?
Average lifespan is 20 years.
How big do they get?
Adult alpacas stand approximately 3 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 100 - 150 pounds.
Where can you sell the fleece?
As the domestic alpaca herd and industry expands there will be more and more commercial avenues open to sell alpaca fleece.
Currently, alpaca fleece is sought after by home spinners, knitters and crafters because of its luxurious qualities. Although currently more work to market through these routes, alpaca fleece still carries a premium price of $2-$4.00 an ounce.
National Fiber Coops will exchange raw fleece for spun yarn and finished goods.
In addition, small domestic mills can process your own individual alpaca¡¯s fleece into very marketable yarn, felt, rovings, batting and more for you to use and/or sell.
Copyright 2002 - Alpacas at Legacy Ranch. All rights reserved.