Q. Who buys these animals and why?
A. Good question. The Alpaca is raised and values because of their rarity. There are only 200,000 Alpacas in all of North America, less than the number of horses in Virginia alone. You can no longer import these animals so one must buy US stock. Most of my customers are very interested in the tax breaks. Many own horses for pleasure but need animals that are considered a legitimate business to write off the whole farm. All age groups buy alpacas for various reasons but the most important reason is the potential tax savings.
Q. How much should one expect to pay for an alpaca?
A. That all depends on the type of alpaca you are looking at. Show quality animals can be very expensive, Proven sires with ribbon winning offspring can be very expensive. The average new farm starts with 2-3 bred females. A good quality bred female will average around $5,000 each. Yes you can find cheaper girls but be careful, there may be a reason why they are cheap and it may not be obvious... Younger maiden girls, not already pregnant, may be found for $2,500 or less depending on quality. DO NOT BUY MALES WHEN JUST STARTING OUT!
Q. Who should we be buy from?
A. You should buy from an established breeder that will service you before and after you sign the contract. Check references, visit several farms, buy from someone you trust. Trust you're instinct! Always buy your first animals from a farm that is within several hours of your home. You will have questions when setting up your facility, when crias are born and vet issues may pop up. I have turned away first time buyers simply because they were too far for us to service them properly.
Q. What's the difference between an Alpaca and a Llama?
A. They are both from the camelid family. The Llama is twice the size of an alpaca and is used as a pack animal. Alpacas are raised specifically for their wonderful fleece. The alpaca fleece is warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. One animal can produce 10 pounds of fiber per year.
Q. What does one do with an Alpaca?
A. The Alpaca is a fleece animal that produces a renewable resource every year that is both rare and valuable. There is a great demand for this fiber in the fashion industry and the animals are very rare thus they demand good money in today's market when they are sold. The tax benefits and ease of maintenance is two of the biggest selling points for Alpacas.
Q. How much land do I need to raise Alpacas and what kind of facility do they need?
A. That is one of the best selling points for the Alpaca. They require very little land, 6-8 alpacas can graze on a single acre, and they do not require large fancy barns or stalls to survive. The Alpaca has become very adaptable to our climate here in the US and prefers to remain outside most of the time. Many types of fenceing can be used as the alpaca will not challenge a fence. Most farms in our region can do fine with just a three sided run-in-shed for shelter. Water and grazing pasture is the other two primary ingredients.
Q. What does an alpaca eat and what is required to take care of them?
A. Alpacas are mainly grazers. They do very well on our native grasses and we give them hay in the winter. One square 50 pound bale of hay will feed 20 alpacas for the day. Other than the grass we give our animals a supplemental alpaca chow, one cup per day, and they also have free choice minerals. Alpacas vet care is very limited. They recieve a de-wormer shot every month, annual vaccinations, get sheared once every year and we trim thier toenails every 2 months. That's it!!!
Q. Are alpacas friendly and can my children be around them?
A. Alpacas are very docile with each having their own distinct personality. Children love these animals and can absolutely be around them but obviously one must use good common sense. New mothers do not like to have their babies handled too much and large breeding males often need restraint. Alpacas can be trained to do almost anything. Many children show Alpacas in the agility and costume classes at some of the largest shows in the country.
Q. Do I have to show my Alpacas to be successful in this business?
A. No but it helps in many ways. Showing is a great marketing tool to get your farm's name out there and to get your animals known. You meet hundreds of potential buyers at each show and each ribbon you win often will make your animal more attractive to the buyer when he or she is sold. Also, shows are a lot of fun!!!
Q. How Do we get started in this Alpaca Business?
A. Do your homework, research the Alpacas and the industry as much as possible, visit as many farms as possible and then give us a call. We would be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss a business plan, discuss your investment options, your facility set up and a plan of action to get you started at a pace that you feel comfortable with.
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