Alpacas: What to Look for When Purchasing One

Alpacas: What to Look for When Purchasing One

Alpacas: Buying an Alpaca

Alpacas make excellent pets and are also prized for alpaca fiber and meat. They are an excellent investment if you are considering starting your alpaca farm. They thrive in every state and season across the United States. They are genuinely wild creatures with exquisite fiber. Alpacas are a joy to be around and also help to alleviate stress from our hectic daily lives. Alpaca breeding is also a lucrative business, and alpaca farmers benefit from government subsidies and tax breaks.

They are highly unusual animals in a variety of ways. They are gentle, friendly, and enjoyable to be around. Although they originated in South America and typically graze in herds on the Andes grasslands of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an elevation of 16,000 feet above sea level, they can be easily raised in any state in the United States.

They are closely related to llamas and belong to the same family as camels or Camelidae, but they have distinct characteristics. Alpacas originated in South America’s high Andes mountains’ grasslands in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.

If you’re considering purchasing an alpaca for your farm, there are several factors to consider. This article will talk over what to look for when purchasing one and some of the health concerns that may arise. The following is a checklist of things to consider before buying alpaca.

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Tips on Buying an Alpaca

  • Alpacas are herd animals and require their own kind’s company.
  • If you wish to breed quality alpacas, select a female.
  • Ascertain that they have sufficient space for grazing, shelter, and access to fresh water.
  • Choose a calm animal with no aggressive tendencies.
  • Consider your climate when selecting a color for your alpaca; white or black will become excessively hot in warmer temperatures, while grey or brown will provide insufficient warmth in colder climates.
  • Consult with other owners to determine which type of alpaca is the best fit for your needs before making a purchase.
  • Inquire of local experts how much an alpaca costs on average (the price varies depending on location)
  • Prepare for veterinarian bills, feedings, vaccinations, and deworming treatments, which can total up to $700 per animal per year (depending on size) 8- Insure yourself against any medical problems that may arise during alpaca ownership; this is especially critical if you intend to breed them as well! 9- Whenever possible
  • Please visit an alpaca farm or ranch in your area and gather as much information about them as possible from other alpaca farmers. After this article, you will find some valuable links for locating an alpaca farmer on the web.
  • Join the National Association of Alpaca Owners and Breeders.
  • Subscribing to a free online alpaca magazine such as Alpacas Magazine on eBay, Alpaca World Magazine, or Alpaca Culture Magazine is a great way to learn about alpacas. You’ll discover a wealth of helpful information about purchasing, selling, and supporting services.
  • Attend exhibitions, shows, and events such as open farm days. Visit the AOBA website frequently to stay informed about the national conference and other regional educational events and build your network.
  • Before you purchase alpacas, ensure that your alpaca farm is prepared for them. There is a range of online resources to learn about purchasing, selling, and current alpaca prices. Additionally, stud services for breeding alpacas are available.
raising alpacas

Choose What Type of Alpaca you will Need?

Alpacas are bred and kept for a variety of purposes. Before you dive in, determine why you’re purchasing an alpaca; this will help you narrow down the type of alpaca to purchase. Numerous reasons exist for purchasing an alpaca:

  • Alpaca fiber
  • As a companion
  • For breeding stock
  • For exhibitions or shows
  • For children
  • For education
  • As an attraction for tourists
  • For meat as food

When purchasing an animal, ensure that it meets these specifications.

Locate your Alpaca

The simplest way to locate alpacas for sale is to visit online marketplaces. If you’ve seen any of the alpaca websites listed below, you should now have a good idea of where to find an alpaca and how much to pay. Additionally, you can use an online alpaca agent, broker, or supply store or search your local newspapers for alpaca sale advertisements. Additionally, you may choose to import alpacas.

How to Buy Alpacas?

The fundamental rules for purchasing an alpaca are to look for healthy, attractive animals with good genetics, a clean medical history, and the color you require. Before purchasing an alpaca, inquire about the animal’s medical history with the breeder or farmer.


For animal breeders, it is critical to select superior progeny or genotypes. Examine alpacas for desirable characteristics thorough inspection and examination of the alpaca’s offspring.


Before purchasing, check the parent alpaca’s progeny records to ensure that your animal is of the appropriate breed. The ARI RegistrationOpens in a new tab. site contains information about pedigree registries.


Scrutinize your alpaca. Ascertain that it appears to be worthy of the purchase at the asking price. When no other information about an alpaca is available, inspecting the alpaca before purchase is your best option.


As with any other purchaseOpens in a new tab., the animal’s price must be within your budget. Prepare for your purchase by comparing prices from multiple alpaca farms. Ascertain that your purchase is informed and that you are receiving the best value for your money.

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Where to Buy an Alpaca?

Alpaca breeders and owners are extremely technologically savvy and adept at communicating in the twenty-first century. It’s enjoyable and straightforward to learn more about alpacas on the Internet. Additionally, many websites include search tools that make it simple to locate alpaca breeders in your area. Insiders in the alpaca industry frequently encourage farm visits for those considering investing in alpacas, most likely because they understand that any time spent with alpacas is ultimately addictive.

  • Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association:  On their official website, you can find breeders, peruse significant events, order print and video information about alpacas, or peruse their pages for a wealth of information on getting started with alpacas.
  • Alpaca Registry Inc: This database contains information about membership requirements and benefits. It includes information on genealogy, blood typing, and ownership records of alpacas in North America. Since its inception in late 1988, blood typing is required for registration and accepts the only offspring of registered alpacas that meet the blood typing requirement.
  • Alpaca Nation is a self-contained website where alpaca farmers can advertise their services and livestock for sale.
  •  You’ve seen the commercials; now, take a look around the site. A group of approximately 100 alpaca breeders funded and created this advertising campaign. Numerous breeders have valuable marketing and communication experience from prior professional careers, which they are now applying to their alpaca marketing efforts. While the site contains some basic introductory information about the alpaca industry, its primary purpose is to connect potential investors with alpaca farms in their area.

How to Transport an Alpaca?

Alpaca transport is surprisingly simple. You do not have to invest in a high-end trailer. They can be transported in trucks, cars, vans, and horseOpens in a new tab. trailers if you have one available. On occasion, we’ve crammed several into the back seat of my Honda and taken a leisurely drive down the road. Alpacas require security. Never, ever tie them up, as they have a penchant for breaking their necks. Typically, we do not leave the halters on to prevent them from becoming entangled in something.

Physical Things to check before you Purchase

Weight and Body Condition

It is critical to keep regular weight measurements or estimates of an alpaca. If an alpaca loses a significant amount of weight, it may be due to illness, malnutrition, worms, or other parasites. Suppose an alpaca is mature and has gained a significant amount of weight in a short period. In that case, it is critical to avoid overfeeding, particularly with alfalfa, treats, and snacks. Complications associated with obesity frequently result in dangerous conditions and death in alpacas.


How do they cradle their heads? It’s preferable if they’re doing so of their own volition. If they are trembling, hunching over, or tucking their head, this may indicate illness or injury. Examine their head for abscesses, which may be a sign of Caseous Lymphadenitis, a highly contagious infection that requires quarantine and treatment.


The alpaca’s eyes should be bright, clean, and alert. They should be free of discharge. Cloudy, watery, dry, swollen, blinking incessantly, or crusty eyes indicate a possible illness or injury. The symptoms listed above could be signs of pink eye, a highly contagious infection that affects other farm animals and humans. Their pupils should be comparable in size and respond appropriately to bright light (get smaller and then return to normal). If you have reason to believe their eyelid coloration is abnormal, you can evaluate using the FAMACHA systemOpens in a new tab.. Numerous people have reported success with their camelids when using this goatOpens in a new tab. and sheep resource. If they are unusually pale, this may be a sign of anemia.


Their ears may contain a small amount of earwax or debris, but they should be free of ear mites. Earwax that is excessively sticky, yellow, or odorous should be addressed. A gauze pad can be used to remove excess earwax or to sample for ear mites.


The snout of the alpaca should be clean and free of discharge, fluid, crustiness, or blood. The tip of their nose should be soft and moist, not cracked. A runny or clogged nose may be a sign of an upper respiratory infection.


In ideal circumstances, you should not be able to hear an alpaca breathe, but you should be able to see its nostrils flare. Their breathing should not be labored, squeaky, wheezy, rattly, sneezy, whistling, or whistling. A mature alpaca should generally breathe between 10 and 30 times per minute. An alpaca having difficulty breathing may have lungworms, a severe and potentially fatal infection of the respiratory system. They should not be coughing dryly. Numerous of these symptoms could be caused by pneumonia, to which alpacas are highly susceptible. Any abnormalities should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.

If they are unwilling to eat, they may have an issue with one or more of their teeth that needs to be addressed (this is especially true for male alpacas, which have sharp canines that grow until they are around eight years old). Now examine their mouth. There should be no sores, abscesses, or scabs in their mouth, as these are all indicators of Sore Mouth. The jaw of an alpaca should not be swollen or enlarged, as this could be a sign of Bottle Jaw. If an alpaca’s breath is particularly foul, it may be a sign of infection and requires further examination.


Examine the alpaca’s entire body for healthy skin, parting the alpaca’s wool as necessary. This is the time to check and feel all areas of the individual’s body, not just those on this list. This specific section of the examination is critical to ensuring that nothing that can be addressed early on is overlooked. Lice, mange, itchiness, mites, nits, lumps, cuts, cysts, bruises, gangrene, larvae, maggots, dry patches, blisters, or pressure sores should not be present on their skin. Abscesses on their bodies may indicate Caseous Lymphadenitis. Their hair should be glossy, and their skin should be smooth and not abrasive.

They should not have their hair standing on end. Ascertain that they do not have a patchy wool loss or loss of pigmentation in their wool, indicating parasites or a mineral deficiency (mainly copper). Additionally, inspect their tail for hair loss and parasites. If the alpaca has a sufficient amount of wool, it begins to affect them negatively in the summer heat; schedule a shearing as soon as possible to avoid heat exhaustion.


It is critical to monitor an alpaca’s poop and become familiar with the appearance of healthy alpaca droppings. Poop from a healthy alpaca is small, well-formed pellets that are not runny but easily broken apart. If it is discolored, watery, pungent, or bloody, it may indicate diarrhea, parasites, illness, or inadequate nutrition. If their feces resembles a “cowOpens in a new tab. pie,” they may have parasitic malabsorption or eosinophilic enteritis.

If you are particularly concerned about a dropping, you may bring it to your veterinarian for analysis; however, you should regularly consider fecal testing healthy-looking alpacas to check for internal parasites. On the other hand, monitor the alpaca’s bowel movements closely, as they are prone to constipation. Their urine should range from clear to deep yellow but should not be very dark or concentrated. Alpaca urine should not contain any white or chalky sediment.

Nails and feet

Ascertain that the alpaca’s nails are of an appropriate length and are free of cracks, heat, swelling, debris, or abscesses. Any of these symptoms can result in lameness and discomfort and the possibility of infection and further damage. They should stand on their feet without limping or walking on their pasterns. If they are limping, examine their toes for foreign objects, parasites, or infections. If their nails are excessively long, schedule a trim as soon as possible. Specific alpacas are born with a condition known as “screw claw,” which causes their nails to curve inward. To avoid injury, these alpacas require more frequent nail trimmingOpens in a new tab..

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Request a Vet to check out Before purchase?

If the animal you are purchasing is a pregnant female, you may be required to provide proof of pregnancy in the form of an ultrasound. You may wish to have any animal you are considering purchasing examined by a veterinarian. This is your prerogative, and you may be required to bear the associated costs.


Is it Legal to have an Alpaca as a Pet?

A well-cared-for alpaca makes an excellent pet. Additionally, because alpacas are herd animals, it’s a good idea to purchase more than one, preferably two or three, if not more. Alpacas are legal in all 50 states of the United States and thus do not require any special permits to obtain one.

How much does it cost to Adopt an Alpaca?

While the cost of an alpaca can range from $250 to $50,000 per animal, most alpacas cost between $3,000 and $10,000 per animal. These costs will differ according to age, conformation, alpaca fleece quality, lineage, facial appearance, and personality.

Female quality alpaca that has been bred or male alpacas that are breeding age typically cost more than younger alpacas that may require care for a year or longer before reaching maturity. The average price for well-bred female alpaca is between $5,000 and $15,000, but this varies significantly.

Do you need a Licence to own an Alpaca?

At the moment, a CPH is not required to keep camelids (alpacas, llamas, etc. ), although some keepers choose to obtain one. If you keep animals on another person’s property, you will still require your CPH.

How long do Alpacas Live for?

Alpacas have a lifespan of up to 15 years.

Do Alpacas make Good Pets?

Alpacas make wonderful pets. They are intelligent, easily trained, and generally quite gentle around children. They are curious, approaching those who stand and observe them. If you give them enough time, they can eat from your hand, and training them to follow a halter is simple.

Are Alpacas a Good Investment / Profitable?

Alpaca farming is not only an excellent investment, which is how I convinced my husband, but it is also an excellent way of life. Unlike other livestock, alpacas bring a sense of calm and peace to your life. They are gentle and a joy to watch. Crias (babies) enjoy running and frolicking in the pasture. Adults can be equally amusing with their adorable noises. Either way, you look at it; they have an uncanny ability to win over your heart. However, the heart does not pay the bills, so let us focus on the financial side of things.

Are Alpacas High Maintenance?

Keeping alpacas entails the fact that alpacas are extremely easy to care for and require little maintenance. They eat a diet of grasses and pasture plants that is low in protein. Due to their clean breech, they are immune to pests such as fly-strike. Always ensure that your alpacas have access to shade and water.

How Much Land is Needed for Two Alpacas?

Generally, an acre of unrotated pasture space can support 5-6 alpacas. If you intend to rotate your pastures, you will require two acres for every five to six alpacas. If you have limited space, two alpacas will thrive on a half-acre of land.

How Many Times a Year can you Shear an Alpaca?

Alpacas require shearing only once a year because their fleece provides more than enough material for products throughout the year. Unlike cashmere or other types of wool, which require animals to be shorn regularly to the point where it may be harmful to the animals, lambswool does not require this.

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Final Thoughts

Investing in this rewarding livestock should be done only after gathering all available information. As is the case with any venture, the adage ‘buyer beware’ applies. There is no reason to feel hurried or under pressure. It cannot be exaggerated how important it is to visit and speak with as many alpaca breeders as possible. Breeders should provide proof of pedigree, breeding, and birthing records, as well as medical records for their alpacas (deworming, vaccination, etc.). Amass information on what is required to care for the animals properly. These should include facilities, fencing, shelters, transportation needs, veterinary care, feed, and any other daily, monthly, or yearly medical requirements. Search to determine the availability of after-sales support. Reputable breeders will provide information on alpaca care, as well as telephone support and their experience. Purchasing from a breeder that offers excellent after-sales support can significant help.

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