Any time a person thinks about making a change to their lifestyle they are filled with questions and may be uneasy having faith in the unknown. Maybe you have visited a farm or two and know you love those cute faces and/or how soft their fiber is, but at the same time are unsure which, if any, alpaca farm you can visualize being your own. Would a “fiber herd” be for you? Would owning alpacas and boarding (agisting) them on another farm fit your life better? Maybe you want to start off with a couple of pregnant females and start growing your herd? Whatever future you can see yourself in, here are some general facts about alpacas and farming.There are many advantages to investing in alpacas as a whole.
*Compared to other livestock, alpacas are very inexpensive and easy to care for.
*Alpacas are very gentle on the earth with their padded feet. They gently browse the pastures leaving the root structures in place. Alpacas do not need to be harmed to harvest their end product (their fleece).
*Overall there are great tax advantages with being in business for yourself like owning your own farm.
*The market is a buyers market right now with a lot of room for profit as the market continues to strengthen again.
*Besides the “investment” side of alpacas, they are a joy to spend time with and their fiber is wonderful in many applications from wearables to home accessories as well as many other items that maybe you can create!
I put the following guide together that shows advantages/disadvantages in buying males versus females. Typically people choose females to start with and then purchase males as their herd grows but there are people that have had a lot of success in buying males first and then market their stud services. Hopefully this guide will help you in your decisions.
*Co-own or full ownership options
*Co-owning can allow you to have ownership of alpacas without needing a farm. Other owner(s) often agreeable with keeping male and sharing stud service fees collected.
*Full ownership may have the same advantage as some farms are agreeable in boarding another persons male(s) in exchange for breedings.
*You collect stud service fees which can be multiple in comparison to owning a female that gives 1 cria (baby alpaca) per year.
*Fleeces from high quality fibered males will more than pay for any minimal expenses incurred (such as vet, or shearing).
*Males are VERY inexpensive to maintain, vet visits are very few and far between, the amount of feed required is lower than breeding females.
*The current market/economy has prices for males VERY affordable!!
*The wonderful tax benefits!!
*In the current market/economy, many people are saving money by breeding to their own males. Of course this will change as the economy strengthens.
*Quality is key with buying males. A need for knowledge in bloodlines, fiber qualities, and conformation is important.
*Start growing your herd, alpaca compounding getting faster each year you grow.
*Purchases usually come with free breedings (breed backs). Our farm offers 2 free breedings for each female purchased from us and then we offer our clients 50% discounts on all future breedings. This is very helpful for a new farm as they don’t need to purchase a male while herd is small which leads to half of the herd being related to herdsire after just 1 generation.
*Farms usually offer free boarding for short term after purchase (usually 3-6 months) so buyer can prepare their farm. We personally are extending free boarding for a year on alpaca purchases from our farm.
*Females produce for many years as they have a long life expectancy. Some farms have had 20 year old females still producing cria with no troubles!
*Females with high quality fiber will maintain their resell value over their reproductive years.
*Females with high quality fiber will also earn money from fleece sales.
*The current market/economy has prices that are still at great levels for starting a farm. Prices have stabilized and just started coming back up for females. Don't wait to long!!!
*Only have 1 cria a year, 50% average are males
*Can cost a bit more in vet bills due to pregnancy confirmations and/or making sure they maintain pregnancy. Can be offset by purchasing pregtone and self testing.
If you are still unsure, a fantastic way to test the waters would be to purchase a couple of fiber or pet alpacas (you have to have more than one though!). Getting your feet wet this way will confirm how easy they are to care for, how inexpensive they are to keep, and how relaxing they are to be around. They will also mow and fertilize your land, trim your trees for you, and once a year they will even give you the coat off their backs!