Why Alpacas ?
For those who get into it, showing alpacas can be addictive ! It's a great way to benchmark your alpacas with others.
Alpacas are typically shown in classes separated by gender, colour, age and alpaca type. The winners of these classes come together to find a colour or an age champion and then and Overall Champion. There are often Judges' Choice and other awards. There are specialised fleece-only shows too.
Because alpaca judges explain their placement decisions in public at the time the class judging is finished, it can be a great learning experience.
We don't show our alpaca because of biosecurity concerns.
an income from breeding ?
winning show ribbons ?
something to eat grass ?
Alpacas are great eaters of grass and are much more environmentally friendly than a lawn-mower ! Buy three or four halter-trained and attractive males and you will have easily-kept, relaxed and friendly field "pets" for many years to come.
Non-breeding males are the cheapest way to own alpacas - you can pay from anywhere from £200-£1000 for a young male - the price variation often reflects their “cuteness”, age, degree of training and fleece quality.
If the males you choose have reasonable fleeces with good colour and some fineness, they should be able to earn their keep if you do something with the fleeces. If you are a craftsperson then you will have the pleasure of working with yarn that you have watched growing
As well as giving you all the benefits of working with these special animals, there are several business streams that follow on from alpaca-keeping in general and breeding in particular. Alpaca breeding is long-term thing though - don't expect meteoric business growth !
Rather than expanding your herd indefinitely you may prefer to sell some of your breeding stock. When selling breeding animals, the price tends to be governed by their pedigree, quality, age and the quality of the male to which a female is mated.
If you have your own stud male, then you may wish to share his genes with other breeders for the payment of stud fees. What you will be able to charge will depend again on his quality and breeding. If you buy or sell stud services though, pay very close attention to biosecurity.
an income from breeding ?
non-slaughter livestock option ?
Alpacas are an ideal livestock species for those who wish to operate a non-slaughter and low-impact agricultural business perhaps on a small scale. You could do this with non-breeding males and take advantage of their simple maintenance requirements, or you could buy females and breed them. .
Alpacas . . .
... require little by the way of infrastructure
... have soft feet and do little damage to vegetation as they graze
... are efficient grazers and don’t require heavily-fertilised pasture
... multiply slowly
You can use your alpacas’ fibre to give you income to help cover your herd costs or you could take it a little further and make it a business in itself through having your fleeces processed and then making finished items from the yarn, or indeed buying other's fleeces to increase the scale of what you do.
The more you do to the fleece, the more value you add. You may be able to sell an attractive raw fleece to a hand spinner for, say, £50 or more, but if you add some processing and sell yarn, felt, knitted or woven goods instead you can considerably increase both the revenue and margin. This involves work and some imagination but can be a great way to get your herd’s name known locally and further afield.
use their beautiful fleece ?
diversify your existing talents ?
You will have your own skills and talents before you became smitten by alpacas ! Alpacas owners are frequently new to livestock and frequently new to running a small business too. But maybe your prior skills are something that other alpaca keepers would pay for ?
You may have IT or business skills that you could package up and offer to other alpaca keepers, or maybe you're good with your hands and could offer specialist alpaca shelters.
Or, if you are in a popular holiday area and have suitable accommodation, what about running alpaca themed weekend breaks or even alpaca walks ? Or maybe your coffee shop customers can watch your alpacas grow fleece that you'll later turn into lovely items to sell in your gift shop ?