Alpaca Farm: Everything you need to know
Farming | Livestock

Alpaca Farm: Everything You Need To Know

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Ok, today we will talk about everything you need to know about Alpaca farms and farming. We will start with a few words about Alpacas, and then go to how much does it cost to start an alpaca farm, how much does it cost to buy an alpaca, how much is alpaca wool worth, is an alpaca farm profitable, and so on. 

The alpaca (Latin Lama pacos or Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated camel animal spread in the South American Andes. It is unclear whether it originates from Guanacas or Vikuns (hence the breed of one) or is a hybrid of the two species mentioned. It lives in large herds across the South American hills to the edge of the vegetation zone. Due to its fine long wool and delicious meat, it has long been domesticated in South American countries. The wool of that animal and the wool fabric is called alpaca. They are extremely tame, dear animals whose wool is highly prized for its exceptional quality

History

The domestication of the alpaca began at the same time as the llama for about 3,000 years BC. Cr. While llamas served as a cargo animal in South American civilization, alpaca was grown primarily for wool. The Alpaca wool coat was considered a sign of prosperity by the Incas. The Inca rulers had large herds of alpacas as a sign of their power.

With the arrival of the Spaniards and their conquest of Peru, the situation is changing. The invaders bring with them sheep and show no interest in domestic useful animals. Thus the alpaca becomes the animal of the poor native, Native American, population. This eventually led to the extinction of these animals.

It is only with the independence of the South American countries that the value of the alpacas is recovered. They have grown again, and their wool is exported to the whole world. Today there are about 3 million alpacas, primarily in southern Peru and western Bolivia.

Alpaca Farm: Everything you need to know

Alpacas are sensitive animals

Alpacas are animals that must be grouped. There must be at least three of them because otherwise, they will die of loneliness and fear. They are very sensitive and picky when it comes to food, so they choose which grass to fall and which hay to eat, and the problem can also arise in overeating which can be fatal. 

Alpaca Features

Like all other camels, alpacas have long, relatively thin legs, a long and thin neck with a small head, and like other American camels have no hump. They are slightly smaller than llamas, but with about 55 to 65 kg they are, above all, significantly lighter than them. Most often they are monochrome, usually brown, black or bluish-gray, and in rare cases two-tone or spotty. Their hair is extremely long and can reach up to 50 cm.

Way of life

Like all animals in the camel family, alpacas are social animals and are best felt in a group. They are herbivores and feed almost exclusively on grasses, and like other camels, they are ruminants, so they have a stomach divided into four, which helps digestion. Females after the birth period of 240 to 345 days are most often fathered by one cub called in South America “Cria”. The female breastfed a puppy for 6 to 8 months, reaching sexual maturity at the age of 12 to 24 months.

How much Alpacas wool is worth?

Alpaca wool is the highest quality in the world, far more valuable than merino wool or cashmere. It is also anti-allergic so 99 percent of people can carry it without reaction. It is used just like ordinary wool – for clothes, accessories, toys or carpets, and a kilogram of the final product made of alpaca wool costs up to $1,700. Of course, just cropped wool costs far less – 10 to 30 dollars per pound, depending on the body part, but it is also much more than sheep’s wool. 

How much does it cost to buy an alpaca?

It depends, but the average price for a herd of quality male alpaca would be around $4,000 – $6,000, while best in the world male alpacas are around $500,000. That’s only buying them. Don’t forget you have to feed them, but that’s now much, they tend to eat relatively poor pasture and can live outside for almost the whole year, but you have to have some shelter for them.

Are Alpacas profitable? 

Well, yes and no. It depends on many factors. First, it depends on where you are stationed, and where you plan to sell your Alpaca goods. Before the 2008 crises there where many Alpaca farms around, but most of them closed. Now, the trend is again starting, so you need to check your

competition and if there is a place for you in it. Then, of course, it is not the same if you sell only cropped wool or some final product. As we mentioned before, the final product will bring you much more money, but again, you have to invest more, or you can go with just cropped wool, but you will get much less money for it. It definitely can be profitable, but you have to check if it is not over-saturated in your parts. 

What do you do with Alpacas?

They can earn you a pretty good investment opportunity. They are a great source of very luxurious fiber, and their fleece is known in the whole world for its fineness and lightweight. You can make all kinds of products from them, like socks, hats, scarves, shirts, slippers, vests, ornaments, and many, many more. 

How the Alpacas Mate?

The alpacas mate in the supine sternal position, and the act itself lasts for about 20 minutes in which the male ejaculates several times. The length of copulation is influenced by the breed, age, season, frequency of mating, and presence of other females. Alpacas usually have one baby a year, and their gestation period lasts from 11 to 11.5 months.

Alpaca Farm: Everything you need to know

What you have to be careful about Alpacas?

They love to eat, and they love to eat everything, so you have to be careful and see that they only have what is good for them. Most alpaca farmers modify their feeding sites so that grass can reproduce and fecal parasites can die before reusing the area. You should also supplement their food with selenium and other vitamins.

Also, they like to eat very much, so you have to look they don’t eat overeat, which can cause even death of Alpacas. Then, there are poisonous plants, and there are many of those like, fireweed, some azaleas, acorns, African rue, agave, autumn crocus, carnations, bear grass, broom snakeweed, amaryllis, buckwheat, castor beans, ragweed, buttercups, calla lily, orange tree foliage, bracken fern, and many others.

Alpacas are therapeutic

Alpacas can be seen more and more in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and retirement homes for therapeutic purposes. So, forget about dogs and cats, if you are depressed or nervous, take yourself one Alpaca, pat it a few times, and everything will feel much better. 

The alpacas are fire and water-resistant!

Ok, they are not, but their fiber is, so they meet standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Systematization

Today, it is not yet clear which animal is the ancestor of the alpaca. Science has long considered guanaka a common ancestor of llama and alpaca. Earlier, theories emerged that alpaca originated in the Vikun, and according to new DNA research, it seems that this theory might be true. The reason why this has not yet been determined with 100% certainty lies in the fact that the Vicuna, Guanacs, Llamas, and Alpacas are fruitful with no restriction, which has always resulted in their mixing again.

Accordingly, the scientific name of the species may be Lama pacos, as well as Vicugna pacos. Newer systematizations no longer give alpaca the status of a species, but consider it a race or mix.

In conclusion, should you go and buy yourself a herd of alpacas? Well, if there is no big competition, and you love working with animals, I don’t see a reason why not. They can live outside for a whole year, you don’t have many expenses except buying them (which is not so cheap), and they are easy to maintain (they eat all kinds of grass, maybe with few supplements). Also, they are therapeutic.

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