Alpaca Farmers can be profitable, but it is a challenge and a work of love. Alpaca farming is usually not sustainable on its own from wool / Fleece production. We will Explore Creative ways that an Alpaca Farmer may diversify and grow his business. It’s like having a Tree, and the Trunk is his Alpaca Farm, The Branches are a different smaller business that he can develop and grow the Whole farm
How much do Alpaca Farms Make
Generally, Most Alpaca farmers are part Time or Hobby Operations. We want to layout here some alternatives that you can add to your Alpaca farm, for extra income to work toward your alpaca farm becoming a stand-alone business. We are hoping this will wet your whistle and get your creative juices Moving and you can add to our list.
Types of Alpacas
Today there are two types of Alpacas that are bred today. The Huacaya, and the Suri. These are members of the Camelid Family other of their cousins are
Alpaca is originally from the Mountains of South America. They graze in the higher altitudes. They Have been bred for their wool producing abilities. Tha average Alpaca weighs 100 – 175 lbs.
When in Distress Alpaca’s Spit. Can Direct and Target with their gastric juices, the causes of their distress. There are no known Wild Alpacas today, all we have are domesticated. It is also called “Sour Mouth”. Not all spit, but they are all able to do so. When afraid, annoyed. unromantic, fighting over food, they can launch their juices.
Alpacas are easy to train and are very intelligent animals. They make large-excellent pets. In recent years Hospitals and Recovery programs have been using them as emotional support animals because they are so docile and friendly. They have been trained to ride in cars. in the Kush Position
Some of the Common Characteristics that all Alpaca’s have been
- Soft Padded Feet – easy on Pastures
- Runiment – with three-compartment stomachs
- Average Height 35″
- The average weight of 150 lbs
- Average Lifespan of 20 Years
- Easily adaptable to small acreages
- They do not have Horns, or Claws, Hooves, or Incisor Teeth
They are naturally very sanitary. They prefer to use a Communal Feces / Dung/poop Pile. They will not poop where they eat and graze. This makes manure collection a lot easier.
The Huacaya Alpacas represent about 90% of the Worlds Alpaca Population
- Fiber – Wool is Short and dense
- Teddy Bear in Feel
- Need Sheared Yearly
Suri brings up the tail with 10% of the Domesticated Alpacas.
- Fiber is Silky, Clings together
- Dreggs appearance
- Usually Sheared every two years
Value Wool Fleece Raw Fiber
Alpaca Wool is five times warmer than sheep’s wool
7 Times Stronger than Sheep’s wool
|State of Alpaca Fleece||Value per Lb|
|Raw Fleece||$ 4 – $10|
|Skirted and Sorted||$ 4 – $28|
|Roving and Bats||$ 50 – $ 75|
|Yarn||$ 150 – $ 150|
How Much Fiber does an Alpaca make
Alpaca Wool is in some areas is superior to sheep’s wool. Insulation and Softness, are two but many of its characteristics as sheep
- Alpaca does not Shed
- Alpaca are Hypo-allergenic
- They need to be Shorn – Yearly – Bi-Yearly
- Alpaca Coats can grow 5 – 6 inches per year
- Average 7-10 lb Fleece when shaved
- The smaller the Micron Fiber Diameter the softer it is
Prepare the Roving
These are the Steps in Preparing the Alpaca and Changing it into spun wool ready for weaving – sweaters, clothes, Blankets
- Sorting – the Alpaca fiber is cleaned (Alpaca Wool does not Have Lanolin in it, so it is reasonably clean when shorn) and sorted into similar Microb sizes. bagged and labeled sent to the mill
- Wool is washed – sometimes two washes and Debris is physically removed
- Wool is fed into Pin drafter – Fed into this machine to be combed into various thicknesses
- It is then ready for Roving – Combining the raw wool into – gently twisting the fibers into strands of Yarn
Yarn and Weave or Knit it into a Rug, Hat, Sweater, Blanket – Highest Value
After the Alpaca wool has been Shorn and prepared into wool it is then ready to be converted into merchandise to be sold. The highest value of the alpaca wool is when it is made into a finished product.
Any of the processes you are able to increase the value of a fleece form $ 50 In it raw state to a finished Alpaca sweater. Ranging from $250 – $1000
Some Alpaca farms prepare the wool and spin it. They then send it to seamstresses that make it into garments. They then bring it back to sell in their own on-site store. Where you can shop and Buy products made right there.
What is the Difference between Alpaca Wool and Sheep Wool
Alpaca wool has superior qualities to Sheeps Wool. Alpaca Fleece is softer than Sheeps wool. It also is 2 – times warmer than sheep wool.
Alpaca Wool has hollow hair, this air inside the Alpaca wool causes it to have great insulating qualities. In comparison sheep’s wool has smaller air pockets, not being completely Hollow. That is what gives its warmth
Alpaca Wool is Hypoallergenic – It does not contain Lanolin as sheep wool does. So even affects people with allergies even less
More Water Resistance
Alpaca wool is more waterproof than sheep’s wool. Sheep’s wool will absorb 50% of its body weight. Alpaca wool has unique wicking properties, so it allows water to be pushed off and evaporate easier.
Why is it Softer
Alpaca Wool is softer than sheep’s wool, even Merino Sheeps Wool. Some Alpaca farms concentrated on Breeding the softest fleece as possible. Alpaca wool that has a thickness of 16 – 18 Micron size is the softest
- Royal Alpaca = 16 – 18 Micron
- Super Fine baby Alpaca = 20 Micron
- Fine = 25 Micron
- Medium = 30 Micron
- Strong = 30 + Micron
Alpaca’s are Used for Guarding Sheep.
Alpacas make excellent Guard Animals. They will protect and Guard against Foxes, Coyotes, other Predators, and Dogs. They are used by farmers to protect their livestock. The Types of Stock Alpaca will protect are
Alpacas are very fast. They easily outrun and can Run down any predatory that threatens its flock. They can kick
They can Spit
They will Screech – loud shrill sounds
Stamp with their front feet
Sale of Alpaca Babies, called “Crias
Alpacas that are sold for breeding. They can have one Cria per year.
Alpacas have a gestation period of around 330 days, The Female Alpacas are called “induced ovulators” this means the male will mount the female and the presence of Male sperm, causes the female to release their eggs.
Also when a female thinks she is pregnant she will discourage any more romance from the male by Growling and spitting at him.
The majority of Alpaca Births happen in daylight. After Giving birth the mothers and young babies will hum to each other.
An alpaca Mother will self wean her baby at 7 – 9 months of age. Then the Alpaca Cria can leave their mother.
Young Alpacas can be purchased at a price ranging from $ 250 – $1500. we would suggest finding local breeders to buy from if possible. This gives you a resource if you need advice as you work with your animals.
On the Flip Side, if you are selling Aplaca’s this will give you an idea just what your selling might get you if you are selling stock.
Money from Alpaca Stud Fees
When you have your own male Alpaca’s you can sell stud services. The prices vary but as a rule of thumb you are looking at the following
- $500 – $750 for unknown healthy good shape male
- Pedigree starts at $ 750++++++ depending on History, Show Wins
- Travel you will need to take Dam to Stud
- Some Alpaca Farms – have to Drive by Stud Services
- Guarantee on Live Births, Birth defect Free
- Some because of High Cost provide Payment Plans
Some farmers have specialized in improving their Breeding Herds. This type of Genetic Management will result in Commanding Higher prices for Stock. Higher prices for Stud fees.
- Studs have been known to mount 3 times a day for a short period – then potency begins to drop
- Female can accept or not accept males
- Male to Female Ratio – 1 Male to 15 Dams
- Participants need to be Calm, Unstressed and Healthy
- Contracts will need to be provided
Some Owners Work as Transporters or Handlers bringing Alpacas to Competitions
There are many services, that by virtue of raising your own alpacas, you will have equipment that you can use for other smaller farms. Animals need to be moved and transported for sale, breeding
Also for Breeders that are shoeing their animals into Show Competitions. They will need to not only be transported but will need people to manage and stay with the show stock. This can be a very Highly Responsible Service.
A web store can be created to sell your Alpaca Items that you locally produce some of them are
- Alpaca manure
- Alpaca Raw Fleece
- Alpaca Yarn
- Alpaca Garments
- Alpaca Books
Udemy – classes
Udemy is an online educational platform. Experts from many different professions have Audio and Video Classes that you are able to purchase to further your education. I personally have taken over 50+ courses over the last 5 years. you can find topics that are specific to what you want to learn. The pricing is very reasonable. many of the classes are in $150 – $200 range – But if you put them ion your wish list – you will get monthly offers to take courses for $9.99 – $19.99 very reasonable. If you have Alpaca Expertise, you can record it. Then make passive income for years on that course.
Alpaca Ranching is heavily dependent on Experience. You could easily offer a consulting Business for Alpaca farming – can have various sections of help you provide
- Farm Startups – Equipment – Stock – Land – I could easily see this as you working as distributer for needed items
- Breeding Alpacas
- Feeding Alpaca’s
- Shearing Alpacas’
- Showing Alpaca’s
- Could have an Hourly Consulting Charge using Skype. So You would not be Location dependent
Raising Breeding Stock – Most Expensive
The cost and profit of Breeding Alpacas for their lineage can be very lucrative. We started out that Alpaca’s can be bought for a reasonable amount of $500 – $ 1500. But When you are now raising Purebreds the cost of Stock grows quickly
- Females – $ 180,000 was the most Expensive sold in the United States ( 2013 )
- Great Pedigree Sire – $ 675,000 – was the most expensive Male ( 2013)
Showing Alpacas Takes many forms. Here is a brief Outline of the [possibilities if you would like to increase the value of your animals by the Show Ring
- Attending Alpaca Shows – Check for Entrance Fees
- Animals are staged in Show Barn for Viewing
- Show Ring – Owner, or person showing will lead his animal according to the judge’s direction. he will be judging the Animal, look, size, gate, responsiveness, leash Training
- Divided by Age groups and Colors
- Performance Show – Here Trainer and animal will be a judge on their handling of a prepared obstacle course
- Production Classes – Judges animals – animals displayed from beginning to end in the betterment of Breed and Lineage
- Fleece Shows – Alpaca Fleeces are Judged and graded for Quality, Color, Texture
There are many tax benefits to Alpaca farming.
- Reduction in many areas of Property taxes
- Treatment of capital gains
- If you work – your deductions
- Offsetting other sources of Income
This is something that you will need to do to take care of your herd to manage it well. The average fleece sells for $350 – $500. Alpaca has an unlimited variety of colors, which can give more demand for its fleeces.
Sheep Farmers have to do the same in shearing their sheep Flocks. Many of the big Commerical Sheep farms bring in international Teams for their shearing season
For a complete understanding of how Commercial Sheep farmers handle this part of their operation, you will enjoy our Article. Commercial Sheep farming for Wool. A lot of the same info can be applied toward Alpaca fleeces.
As looking at it from an alternative Income stream. You have to do it we could see here opportunities in possibly the following areas
- Alpaca Shearing Service – Also Sheep Shearing – This is a Learned Trade
- Alpaca Shearing Education – Classes – Info Book having a Guide to Alpaca Shearing
- 4 H Shearing Training
This only happens once a year, Usually by the End of July, but that might bring in some cash as an extra. You could go to farmers, or have them bring their Animals to you
It takes approximately 6 Minutes to Shear an Alpaca for an experienced Shearer
There is a National Shortage of Alpaca ShearersBritish Alpaca Society
Selling Manure – Black Gold
Alpaca poops about 4 lbs per day. They are a very neat animal so they generally poop in one spot. This makes manure collection easier. A year’s Poop is about 1500 lbs.
An Important Part of any farming is Manure Management. Manure needs to be removed from your Alpacas Pens for several reasons
- Sanitary -Disease
- Odor Control
- Control of Parasites Eggs – Flies
Since you have to manage manure from your Alpaca Herd. You can fertilize your own fields, gardens if you like. In working with Rabbit Farmers, we have seen some creative ones that are selling Rabbit Manure for people use in their garden. Some farms sell their manure that way. It has extra labor, handling (which you have to anyway) but they
- Cool it – manure can be hot until it ages
- Bag it – 1,3.25 lb bags – selling $8 – $ 10lbs a bag
- Market it – Amazon – Garden Stores –
This is a little labor Intensive – but looks to be an open market for the creative farmer. Translating that into dollars for an extra business and revenue source, to add to your Alpaca Farm
- 1 Alpaca – 4lbs a Day / 1500 lbs a Year
- Averaging $10 per Lb / $40 per day / $ 15,000 Per Year
Many Rabbit Farms and we have seen several Sheep Farms that have successfully Add this extra source of Revenue.
We researched it Here on Ultimate Guide to Rabbit Poo
Worm Farming using Alpaca manure
Also, check out the info in the above article, but there are many Worm Farms that have to purchase Manure or different types of Feeds for their Night Crawlers. This could be an outlet. But usually, worm farmers don’t have to pay much for it, because it is a problem that farmers have to remove.
But for an extra source of Revenue, check out the Worm Farms – Selling
- Worms – Breeding
- Worms – Fishing Bait
- Worm castings – 10 lbs = $25.00 here on Amazon
- Natural Organic Fertilizers
Selling Alpaca Meat
You would have to some more Extensive Research, But Alpaca Meat can be very Expensive – $ 40 per lb
Each Alpaca when Dressed will yield about 60 Lbs of Meat. I have not seen any farms specifically for growing alpaca for Meat. But the possibilities look Juicy. $40 x 60lb = $2400 per Animal
Each Alpaca sold just for meat would yield $2400, just looking this could be expanded into Exotic Meat Market. We say this with Deer, Caribou, Elk, Moose, etc.
The advantage this is a very docile Animal – easy to take care of.
In looking overtraining that is available. It seems like the training is very limited on some of the skill sets needed for Alpaca farming. This would make opportunities in building some Training Materials.
- YouTube Alpaca Training Videos
- Informational Products around Alpaca farming
- Training Materials on How to House Train Your Alpaca
- Training Videos on Getting Your Alpacas for Shows
How Many Aplpacas Worldwide
Alpaca Shows for Breeders – AOA Certified
- Alpacalooza – Ridgefield Washington
- Heart of Virginia Alpaca Show – Lexington Virginia
- North American Alpaca Show – West Springfield, Massachusetts
- NorthEast Alpaca Expo – West Springfield, Massachusetts
- Futurity – Kansas City, Missouri
- Mid Atlantic Alpaca Gala – Harrisburg Pennsylvania
- Great Midwest Alpaca Festival – Madison, Wisconsin
- Mapaca Jubilee – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Wisconsin Alpaca and Fiber fest – Madison, Wisconsin
- Great Western Alpaca Show – Denver Colorado
- CABA Classic – Portland Oregon
- NW Alpaca Showcase Fleece Show – Kennewick, Washington
- AOA National Show – Lebanon Tennessee
- The Suri Networks All Suri Fleece Show – Gallatin, Tennessee
- Michigan International Alpaca Fest – Dimondale, Michigan
- NEAOBA Alpaca Fall Spectacular – Syracuse, NY
- Illinois Alpaca & Fiber Fest – Springfield Illinois
- A-OK Alpaca Blast Off – Shawnee, Oklahoma
- VAOBA Alpaca Expo – Fredricksburg, Virginia