Cost analysis and other research are invaluable when deciding upon an investment in alpaca farming. Alpacas have been bred in the United States for approximately twenty years, and have requirements that may discourage a prospective farmer or lead them to decide upon a native grazing species to farm. Purpose is another consideration. Is the farmer deciding to farm alpacas for a petting zoo, exotic pet, or novelty animal? Is the farmer planning to raise and sell show quality animals? Does the farmer want to strictly raise alpacas to sell the young and breeding stock, with the sale of the fiber being a side income? Or is the farmer considering simply raising enough alpacas for a good fiber herd with the sale of the fiber and manufacture of fiber products being the main income source of the farm? All of these decisions need to be made before the first alpaca is purchased, as it will affect the quality of the stock being purchased.
Time is a consideration. Will this be a part-time endeavor in addition to a full-time job? Is this a retirement investment, with more available time to spend caring for the animals? Will there be enough time for the farmer to continue to educate themselves on the best ways to maintain their herd for their particular needs? Can additional help be recruited from family and friends during shearing times or will professional help have to be hired? Does the prospective farmer realize that the time needed isn’t just about the animals or the farm but other business processes like accounting, management, and planning? A successful farmer will consider all of these questions and many more.
Accommodations are also a concern. Once the farmer has determined the purpose and set the timeline for their farm production, land and buildings are large parts of the decision-making process. Does the farmer own at least three to five grazing acres or have the ability to expand to connecting property as the farm grows? Will the animals have to be boarded at another location, adding additional time and inconvenience of not having them on the home property? Are there proper barns, leaning covers, or enclosures for the number of animals in the herd to insure they are able to stay out of the sun? Alpacas are cold climate animals, so shade, covers, fans, even air conditioning may be needed to avoid heat exhaustion and death. Are these items available?
Is it your future? After considering these aspects and many more, the farmer must believe that alpaca farming is a viable way to spend their future.