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alpacas?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
it's been a little pipe dream of mine to own an alpaca (small llama-like creatures raised for their luxurious fiber)farm.... seemed really far off, but now we're selling our house downtown and planning the big move to the country We won't be getting a lot of property, ten acres at the most. From what I've been reading online about them, alpacas are the most perfect animal alive -gentle, clean, soft-footed, don't eat much, don't take up much space, and I'm thinking there must be a drawback -aside from the price! Does anyone have or know of someone who has alpaca? What are they really like?

Here's my plan -please critique! - buy a couple of fiber animals (I'm assuming they are neutered males, breeding animals are ridiculously expensive), keep them a couple of years, learn how to spin, sell handspun handdyed alpaca wool online, hopefully recoup their maintenance costs. If that goes well and I enjoy having them, I'll move to the next step -invest in some breeding females and start making babies!

I'm not a farmer by any stretch, but I love animals, always have had cats or dogs... how hard is the transition from pet owner to livestock owner?

This may be years down the line still... but it's giving me something to think about while I'm packing boxes! :LOL

any feedback much appreciated!
post #2 of 9
DD1 has the same dream..She loves weaving and wants to own her own alpacas...I will see what info she has and PM you.


Good luck
post #3 of 9
Some members of my family raise alpacas. I really don't think you can recoup the cost, but dang, they are cute.
Of course, this assumes that you have to feed them all winter, and our winters are long. I spin yarn, and maybe I am a little slow, but it takes me forever to make any amount. My hourly wage on spinning alpaca would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3c/hour after shearing, picking, sorting, washing, combing, spinning, setting the twist and finally dyeing. Heh. My family actually sends their fiber here: http://www.customwoolenmill.com/ and has it made into yarn and socks to sell.
Alpacas actually make good livestock for first-time owners because they tend to be very gentle, like big dogs. Their soft feet make for the nicest pastures, so green! So not covered in crap! (We have cows. Not so green, and everything has poo on it)
post #4 of 9
I love them - I don't have any but people who live on my way to school do and I love to see them.

How are you going to have babies if the males are neutered?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
well, too bad about the money... I guess I'll have to just stick it out until I start breeding to make any. I was hoping this would work out to be a bit of an income, as we are planning the move, in part, so I can continue to be with DD instead of WOH. Every website goes on and on about the investment of owning alpacas....must be talking about breeding them if the return is so little for just their fleece. Must need to own a large flock (is that the word?) to make money on the fibre.

There are two farms within driving distance in the area we're looking to buy that have alpacas, when I do get some females -I'll just get them 'serviced' there. Probably wouldn't be worth keeping my own male just to start out.
post #6 of 9
I'm not even convinced breeding will recover funds. It's sort of a pyramid scheme, and the bottom has really dropped out

Remember, too, that we have to feed animals hay all winter here, which is really September to May. At $5/bale that gets expensive. Alpacas (or llamas? one of them) require special fencing too. No barbed wire, i can tell you that much. Ahh, google. The fence needs to be high enough to keep deer out, and sturdy enough to keep dogs out. The deer here are plentiful and brazen, so that would be a strong 6' fence.
Here is an excellent resource, covering much of the costs and responsibilities of raising them: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/llamaalpaca.html

I'm not saying "don't do it" I am just saying "go in with your eyes open and anticipate your costs, figure out a reasonable return and know that it is a lot of work" I tend to play Devil's advocate, although i really am that slow of a spinner. i have been working on a roving all week, and probably have 60 yards done.
Will horrible things happen if your first 4 years of breeding, all you get are bicolor males for fiber, not breeding stock?

I can buy pet alpacas for $250, bred females for $600 without papers. See? http://www.purealpaca.com/pets.htm

Years ago, it was 15k to get a breeding pair.

My dad always says "If I win the lottery, I will keep farming until the money is all gone"

We do make a teeny profit on our farm. Quite honestly, the tax break from farm status is more than the profit, if that tells you anything. The profit comes from vegetables, i swear the beef loses money every year.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

don't worry! I WAS going to feed them!

:LOL

I'm still not convinced I can't do it, so your not talking me out of it yet! That's more of a relief actually, I was more worried about letting the opportunity for money passing me by, than wanting a large profitable farm. My background is in apparel design, so I was planning to make stuff from the wool and sell that for profit, even if it means paying to have my fibre processed. Learning how to spin would cut out a middleman, and while away the winter hours poetically, but as you're saying -not practical.

If one alpaca needs a bale of hay per approx. 2 weeks @ $5 a bale, they'll cost less to feed than the cats! Vet bills might be another story...

The fencing- I read before that 4' was enough, just to keep dogs out, but no mention of deer...I should mention this will be in NB...I'm not sure how brazen the deer are there. I could always get a dog to protect them, now that would be poetic! or maybe just a llama...

well, I guess this all depends on how much DH will be making at his new job... he's going to have to support us all!
post #8 of 9
Well, the deer here are ballsy, thanks to getting chased away from their normal territory by fires 2 years ago. They still haven't gone back to that side of the river. The concern with deer is that they carry a parasite that can really harm alpacas.
Paying to have fiber processed, whether into rovings (have you seen how much alpaca roving sells for?), yarns, knitting kits or garments would probably be a good way of doing it, far more profit per hour than trying to spin it yourself.

If you look at them as medium-large dogs that are very gentle pets, and you might have a chance to make some money off of them, you will do just fine.

So do farm status taxes work the same in NB? We don't pay sales tax on anything farm-related, plus get a break on property taxes and such. It's worth looking into, anyways. It means a signifigant tax break, more than I make per month.

Whew! I am glad I didn't talk you out of it! I was afraid I would crush your dreams, or make you think I am some bitter ex-farmer who lost money on alpacas like stock holders lost money on pets.com
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

I hope they don't actually ACT like dogs, they eat their vomit....

yep, I pretty much just want pets that can pay for themselves (maybe not their purchase price, just their maintenance) and provide me with some raw material to make some bucks for myself making sweaters and stuff. I'd rather pay for my wool in hay than dollars!

NB has farm status tax breaks too, but I haven't looked into the particulars - % of land used and income made etc...

this has been great, very informative, thanks Thorkmorton. I'll definitely come back when I get the little buggers.
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