Alpacas are animals of South American origin, and belong to the family of camels. They look very similar to llamas, and these two animals are quite often referred to as cousins. Both these animals are placed in a family called camelids and are strictly herbivorous. Alpacas are bred for their fiber which is used to make a variety of warm clothing, such as blankets, sweaters, hats, scarves, and even bedding. Their fiber is very popular in South America, and the trend is catching on in the rest of the world as well. As the fiber is being widely used, more and more farmers are investing in alpaca farming for extra income. Rearing these animals is also quite easy, and favor well as a home-based business opportunity; just a few simple guidelines should help you set up your own farm.
Alpaca farming is one of those business ideas which is sought after by everyone. Before you get your own farm just do a bit of homework. Here are a few tips that will help you learn whether this is feasible for you.
- Visit an alpaca farm nearby. This will give you an idea of the initial requirements. Getting varied opinions from owners will also help you to get an idea of what to expect from your own farm.
- Find out whether the area you plan to start farming requires any licenses to breed these animals. You can refer to the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service guidelines for the same.
- Ensure that your property is zoned for livestock; consult zoning authorities before buying any animals.
- There are certain veterinary rules for transport of llamas and alpacas. You must consult with a veterinarian for transport rules and vaccinations that need to be given to the animal.
- This kind of farming requires more than one person to look after and maintain the farm, therefore, manpower is also a prior requirement. It does not require many workers, but even family members, if ready, are enough to take care of the farm.
- Find out about the investment and profits of this business. You need to plan your funds accordingly.
These guidelines will help you in making a firm decision.
Initial investment is in buying alpacas and transportation of these to the farm. On an average, the price of alpacas can range from $100, which is the cost of a sterile male, to $35,000 for the finer breeds. The feeding and maintenance will cost you around $300 for each animal. The investment behind each one is around $15,000, therefore it is best to consider insurance for your business. You must also take into consideration the cost of providing shelter and annual vaccination. Depending on the weather, your shelter must suit the animal. A 10×20 feet shelter is sufficient for 8 alpacas. Make sure to carry out an all round assessment of the investment required for the business.
Alpacas consume about 60 lbs. of grass every month. They prefer eating tender grass and plants than those which are thick. They must be fed with proper vitamin and mineral supplements. While feeding the alpacas tender grass, bear in mind that certain types of grass can be toxic to them; bracken fern, oleander, and firewood are few such examples. Specially formulated food is also available for alpacas, which can be purchased from the market. The animal has to be sheared once every year. These animals are clean and have a common dumping ground. See to it that the dumping ground is cleaned regularly to maintain a hygienic and disease free environment.
One very important advantage of this business is that, once you have established your farm, you are eligible for tax advantages. The maintenance of the farm also gives you the benefit of deductible tax expenses. This definitely saves you a lot of money. I cannot give you an accurate figure for the income, but whatever it is, you can be sure to make up for your investments in no time and start reaping the profits. The fleece of alpacas is in great demand, and for now, the demand exceeds the need, making it an expensive commodity, and, therefore, a profitable one.
Rearing alpacas is a very good option to make profits, but remember marketing your product well is of great importance as well. Apart from bringing in profits, the animal itself is very cute and cuddly, and is an exotic pet; though not in the list of your usual farm animals, they will surely multiply your joy.