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Why Alpacas

The joy, ease of care and potential profitability of raising alpacas has attracted people from many walks of life to become alpaca breeders. For some, alpacas are a primary source of income, for others a part-time business venture, but a source of pleasure for both. Young couples with children can enjoy the benefits of owning and caring for alpacas as a rewarding family experience. Those who have raised their family and are seeking a business and lifestyle to enjoy as they approach retirement find it to be a perfect fit. Ultimately, whether making the switch from a fast-paced corporate life, or adding alpacas to an already established rural setting, breeding these unique, gentle animals can provide both income and pleasure, all wrapped up in a peaceful, stress-free lifestyle.

The lifestyle is made possible because the animals can be raised on relatively small acreage. Alpacas are clean, safe, quiet, intelligent and relatively disease resistant. They have soft padded feet and are gentle on the land. And they can be easily transported in a trailer or the family van. They are easy to handle and probably one reason why you’ll find many women raising alpacas on their own.

There are many family-oriented events around the country where you’ll find alpacas. These include local and state fairs, alpaca farm open houses and auctions, and larger shows hosted by various alpaca organizations such as The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, held in Madison each year on the last weekend in April. The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association also holds its annual conference and show in late spring. Fiber artists love working with alpaca fleece and breeders also can get involved in the fiber end of the business by either selling each year’s clip, spinning it into yarn or having it processed at one of the many mini-mills located throughout the country. Many breeders have farm stores where they sell products made from the fiber of their animals. The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, Inc., an agricultural cooperative, provides an outlet for the fiber and also offers its members products that they can buy at a discount. The spinning, knitting and weaving of alpaca fiber is a skill that can lead to additional profits.

Alpacas have brought impressive financial returns to families all across the United States and North America, but it’s the fun and hands-on nature of this lifestyle that has really captivated people searching for a simpler and more rewarding way of life. Even if you don’t have the land and are committed to a full-time career, you can still begin your alpaca adventure by purchasing and boarding at a nearby alpaca farm or ranch. I boarded my growing herd for the first seven years until I moved to my five acres of paradise just south of Madison.

 

The future of the alpaca industry

While the future of the alpaca industry lies in fiber production, the current U.S. market is driven by the sale of quality breeding stock. Many factors influence prices, including fleece quality and quantity, color, conformation, age and sex.

If you’re interested in getting into alpacas, it’s important to learn everything you can about these animals. There are many things to consider and it’s wise to begin by preparing a business plan. Ask yourself the following questions when setting your goals:

  1. Do you want an inexpensive pair of geldings, which could be used to produce fiber for your own needs or as pets for you and your family?
  2. Do you want to become a breeder?
  3. Do you want hands-on business or are you only interested in investing in the business of breeding alpacas?
  4. Do you own acreage or do you still live in the city?
  5. Are you looking for current financial returns or do you want to build a herd of quality breeding stock that would allow you to retire on your own farm or ranch?

The U.S. alpaca industry will continue to focus on breeding stock for many years. Because of a small national herd (about 150,000 alpacas), no more importation of alpacas from South America and the slow reproduction rate (one cria a year), it’s a case of supply and demand. Prices are still relatively high due to the limited supply, but recent national economic events have also affected the alpaca industry and prices have gone down. It is an ideal time to invest because of the deflated prices of breeding stock and breeding costs.

There continues to be strong growth in the industry, however, much of it due to the positive aspects of raising alpacas and their ease of handling. They are earth-friendly and safe to handle. They require minimum feed, fencing, shelter and veterinarian costs. Their valuable fleece is harvested annually providing enough income to cover the animal’s health-care costs. The tax advantages are another great incentive with expense deductions, depreciation and deferred wealth accumulation.

We offer creative financing options with various payment schedules depending on the down payment and we’ll work with you to arrange a payment plan to meet your needs. We offer 12 to 24-month payment plans with the interest rate calculated on the amount of your down payment, i.e., 0 percent interest with a 50 percent down payment and 12 months; 5 percent interest with a 25 percent down payment and 24 months, etc. The higher the down payment the lower the interest rate.

Plan a visit to Sauk Creek Alpacas soon and we’ll introduce you to some of our alpacas and answer your questions about the alpaca lifestyle. For us, this is a plan for our retirement and a retirement plan.

Updated January 22, 2016