So you’re thinking of starting an alpaca farm. We don’t blame you as alpaca farming can be both rewarding and profitable. Before you jump in, though, there are several things you should consider before you take the next step.
7 Things to Consider Before Starting an Alpaca Farm
1. Learn About Alpacas
We hope that anyone who wants to start an alpaca farm has enough common sense to spend some time learning everything they need to know about alpacas.
While it’s true that only experience can teach you certain things, knowing all about the different types of alpaca breeds, their feed, health and nutrition needs, as well as what the day-to-day running of an alpaca farm involves is non-negotiable. Knowing what to look for when buying alpacas is of course incredibly important too.
2. Land Requirements
On average, you can keep between 5 and 10 alpacas per acre, though this depends on geography and pasture management. Because alpacas have strong herding instincts, at a minimum you need at least half an acre of land to support 2 alpacas.
There are also other things to consider including if you will be using dry lots or pasture (each has their own pros and cons), that you are able to separate male and females of breeding age, and whether you will have to clear the land as some plants are toxic to alpacas.
3. Fencing Options
Alpacas won’t try to escape nearly as much as other farm animals, but they still need to be fenced in, especially as they are often targeted by predators.
There are many styles of fences available, including “no-climb” fencing and multi-strand high tensile fencing. In any case, you will need to build a fence that is at least 4 to 5 feet tall, and make sure that crias are unable to roll underneath and adult alpacas are unable to fit their head through the spacing.
Alpacas may be resilient and can adapt to the extremes of hot and cold climates, but it’s still recommended that you are able to provide shelter, especially as the rain can ruin an alpaca’s fleece if it stays moist for a long period of time. This would spell very bad news if you want to profit from raising alpacas.
You have the option of using a three-sided shelter, four-sided shelter, or barn. Just make sure that you have the resources to build some kind of shelter.
5. Find a Good Vet
Before you start an alpaca farm, it’s a very good idea to first find a veterinarian nearby that has knowledge of alpacas. Even better would be if the vet is close enough to make any checkups, routine shots, and emergencies a quick, stress-free process.
6. Your Goals
If you’re thinking of starting an alpaca farm you probably already have a rough idea in your head of what you hope to achieve. You might just want to purchase a few alpacas to act as pets and produce fiber. This can only set you back a couple of thousand dollars.
On the other hand, if want to start an alpaca farm with the goal of breeding and selling the alpacas, this will cost you significantly more. The highest quality breeding stock doesn’t come cheap.
7. Develop a Business Plan
If you want to raise alpacas for profit, a business plan is definitely a must. From the very beginning, you need to make sure that the numbers work and that starting an alpaca farm is actually economically viable.
A typical business plan consists of a mission, the services/products you will offer, a marketing plan, your competition, any risks and opportunities, projected income, and a breakeven analysis, to name just a few things you should consider.