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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, can I get some honest answers about Alpacas from some of you owners?

How much wool can one Alpaca produce a year?

Can an Alpaca really produce enough income from wool sales to pay for its upkeep?

Here is the thing. My kids are wanting some and they have raised other animals and sold offspring and done well and been responsible. I would like to help them out, but I do not want to simply help them buy a pet Alpaca with no real chance of it producing a viable income, as they think it will. I am considering a breeding pair or maybe a few geldings? I have heard the males can get stupid over time, but is that a given that they will all get crazy with age?? In order to really see a profit will it be necessary to produce and sell offspring or will the furr be enough to pay for it over a few seasons.
Thanks for your honest answers on this it is very much appreciated.
 

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Honest answer: That depends.

Our lightest fleece this year was 1.5 lbs raw and our heaviest was just under 10 lbs raw. From the 10 alpacas we sheared we ended up with just under 50lbs of raw fiber.

Whether an alpaca can pay for itself or not will really depend on how you care for it and how you sell the fiber. The previous owner of our alpacas spent a lot of money on their care (expensive feeds and supplements, fancy individual pens, etc.) while we spend relatively little. Selling raw fiber yields the least amount of income while selling fiber with more processing (milled into roving or yarn) yields more.

The crazy males you've heard of probably had Berserk Male Syndrome (aka New Handler Syndrome). It's caused by overhandling when they're young which results in aggression when they become sexually mature. If an adult male is well-behaved then he is likely to stay that way.

Selling stock is a good way to add to income, but I would never rely on it as the sole or primary source of income. Ultimately you'll have to crunch the numbers for your own situation to see if it's a viable pursuit.
 

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I don't have alpaca, but mini sheep. Similar in a way.
I pay a good amount to have them sheared. I'm lucky to get enough money selling the wool raw to cover shearing.
If I coated them, gave them fancy food, etc, I would never see any money back. The breed I have, their wool just isn't worth much to bother caring a lot for it.
So if you find alpaca with very good quality wool and then are able to find a good shearer and good buyers, you should, at least, be able to cover yearly shearing costs.
If you don't have enough land and have to buy a lot of hay and grains, it'll really drive down what you get back.
I see alpaca for sale all the time, cheap ones, some 15k for one!! And there's a couple farms quitting as well. So watch out for that. I don't think anyone eats them, so you wouldn't have an extra way of making some money other than by wool and selling of breeder/pet animals.

If you manage to learn how to shear yourself with no second cuts, more $ will go into your pocket.
I tried it, failed terribly, and now just want the sheep's wool to pay for their shearing cost. Rest I make back from lamb sales as pet, breeder and meat, to pay for their other expenses, feed, hay, vetting, equipment, etc.

I'm pretty sure that crazy alpaca thing is the same as crazy horses, dogs, goats, w/e. If you don't respect them and treat them carefully and just allow them to be spoiled and do whatever they want, then when they get older, they will walk all over you and become dangerous.

I've thought about having some alpaca, but no one buys them here, shearing is too much and I'd need a different person to shear them as most sheep people around here won't shear them as well, and they have nothing else to provide. I know some eat them, but I could never do that if I had to make space or make some kind of profit by putting them in the freezer instead of continuing to feed them.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I thank both of you for your candid answers. That is what I am looking for. if someone on here could tell me they are making XXXX amount of $$$ for XX amount of Alpaca's, then I would think there is at least the possibility of a profit, but most of the post I have seen here and elsewhere, only mention a few sales here and there. I just have not seen the consistent profit post that I see with some other animals such as pigs, cows or chickens. I know that is different since those are meat animals, but on the economic end of things it is the same. if a person is really going to have a farm that pays and has at least of possibility of supporting itself all of the animals have to help pay the way and at the very least support themselves, better yet make a profit.
I have been researching Alpacas some in the last few days and besides some large outfits, it seems most people have them basically as pets, with some benefits, rather than a farm animal expected to produce an income.
 

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I doubt it. Llama and alpaca fiber is hollow, machines are not as available as material such as cotton. Big money farms buy and sell to each other for tax write offs. f you have an opening for a niche market where you could offer classes to card and clean fiber, maybe get some wood hat molds and charge to make hats or whatever for crafts. Think the big money is in the curiosity, not the animal itself.
 

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The question you should be asking is, "Do they taste good?"
YES! Some of the best jerky I've had came from an Alapca.

My bosses wife raises Alpacas, has about 20 now, used to have 30+. She is getting out if the business because it's just not worth it anymore as the market is saturated.

Crazy creatures though.
 

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I don't know much about them, but when we lived in Colorado, folks couldn't GIVE them away! It was such a saturated market, everyone seemed to jump on board for awhile, but products and income was limited, folks started getting out just as fast. I could have taken as many as I wanted. I'm not kidding, in just my local county, I think I could have acquired several hundred for under $25 each. Now, I live in central IL. They seem to be a few years behind, and the alpacas are just getting popular here, and everyone (especially the newbie homesteaders looking for a niche market) is jumping in. I foresee the same dumping in a few years.
 

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I have alpaca. Everyone's requirements/demands as to what they expect from alpaca are different and it's difficult to give a straightforward answer that is applicable to everyone.
Raising alpaca is a hobby for me and they cost more than they return.
 

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We have ours for fun, not profit.
I am a spinner, so for me it makes sense to produce my own fiber.
We aren't into the breeding aspect, but the fiber only.
I may make a bit selling any extra, if I can even cover their feed I'll be happy.:D
If not, I'll still be happy, as I will have all that luscious fiber to play with!:thumb:
 

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I've read that llamas and alpacas help with security as well...they'll make noise when there is danger and that they don't like dogs / coyotes and the like. Can someone confirm or comment?
 

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I've read that llamas and alpacas help with security as well...they'll make noise when there is danger and that they don't like dogs / coyotes and the like. Can someone confirm or comment?
My alpaca are very aware of their surroundings and what is the norm. Mine do not mind my dogs, but they are accustomed to them.

My males seem more interested in smaller dogs rather than the bigger ones and they follow them when they go into the field never letting them out of their sight.
 

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I know my two boys have a fit if they even think a coyote is around!
As to dogs, well, they really don't care for our two GP's, but as they are our Guardians in the sheep pasture, which adjoins the 'Paca pasture, they have gotten used to them, and don't freak out anymore.:thumb:
 

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You can't make a profit off them - yet, anyway. The big money was made getting them established as a fashionable animal. They make good, useful fleeces if you can find someone who can process them, but not that much better than sheep, and different to what people are used to. They are made of meat, and they taste pretty good, but you can't find a market for them that way - have to eat your own. As they're camelids, I'd think you ought to be able to build a market for them and llamas in Muslim communities, but it ain't there yet.
 

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One of my boys will alert at any unusual animal. Their "warning" sounds like a car with a loose fan belt. He lets us know if the cows are in the back pasture, or if a rabbit hops across the yard, or if there is a deer WAY over in the forest. If it's something he just doesn't like, he'll chirp once or twice. If there is something he feels really threatened by, like a coyote or an eagle, he'll continue to alert, and I hustle out to check it out. They don't mind our dogs, or chickens, or ducks. The second boy rarely alerts. He just eats.
 

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We have six alpaca and a lama. We purchased them off craigslist for very little inorder to keep our land under the AG Exemption which saves us a substantial amount every year. They are easy keepers and only need additional hay in the winter. We shear them every year ourselves but haven't sold any fiber yet, only given it away at this time. Lamas are supposed to be more aggressive against predators and we have never had any issues with the many coyotes we have around us.
 

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We have six alpaca and a lama. We purchased them off craigslist for very little inorder to keep our land under the AG Exemption which saves us a substantial amount every year. They are easy keepers and only need additional hay in the winter. We shear them every year ourselves but haven't sold any fiber yet, only given it away at this time. Lamas are supposed to be more aggressive against predators and we have never had any issues with the many coyotes we have around us.
I see alot of this in my area. The go by "animal units" per acre. Alpacas seem to be oneof the easiest to meet te reqirements.
 

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As someone who had alpaca for 5 years and then sold them as a lot for way less money than I paid, I would steer your kids toward something else.
They must be sheared each spring. If you are in a part of the country that has deer, they will require shots of ivermectin every month as a meningeal worm preventative. There teeth may need to be trimmed yearly, some more require more often. Toenails will need to be trimmed maybe 3-4 times a year. They are a high maintenance animal.
If you want animals for fleece, get weaned males and have them castrated this will help to preserve fleece quality. As for making money off breeding stock, unless you purchase top of the line animals (read big $) you will be lucky to sell offspring at all. I consider alpaca one of the novelty breeds of livestock, where the only people who really made money were the people who got in on the ground floor much like the miniature horses and donkeys a few years ago.
 

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I've read that llamas and alpacas help with security as well...they'll make noise when there is danger and that they don't like dogs / coyotes and the like. Can someone confirm or comment?
While I have no formal experience with Alpacas, we tour a farm as a Boy Scout group every other year or so and it stuck with me to hear the farmer relate a story about how his males will gang up on and kill coyotes and coy dogs (and have on more than one occasion.)
 

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his males will gang up on and kill coyotes and coy dogs (and have on more than one occasion.)
I could definitely see that. What they lack in size, they pack a powerful kick that could do serious damage.
 
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