In a previous article, I highlighted some facts and figures related to the business of raising alpacas.
You must also consider how stable alpaca values remain, before you venture into the business of raising alpacas. Currently, an alpaca retails for between $15,000 and $20,000. The price is the same as it was, 20 years back, when the animals were imported into the US.
The price hasn't risen because the size of the herd in the US is small. And that is so, because imports into the US have been stopped. Also, a dam takes 11 ½ months to bear a child alpaca or cria.
Breeders in the business for a decade or more say they have seen the lower end of prices drop and the prices of the top animals increase. This shows how stable their value has remained.
Prospective alpaca farmers are probably wary because of the experience of the 1980s when emus were imported. The large ostrich-like birds were promoted for their meat. This business never took off, and secondly, since emus bred in large numbers - producing many offspring in a year, expenses required to be met by part time or first time into experience raisers shot up.
Comparatively, alpacas gestate for a period of 11 ½ months, and produce one off-spring a year. The sale of their fleece is sufficient to feed them, and it is expected to become more marketable soon.
The built-in stability of this market is evident, from this. Also, some small farms try to grow at a fast pace by buying pregnant dams, in order to keep up with the demand for alpaca sales.
Considering the price of a good breeding female alpaca, which is $15,000 to $20,000, you can recoup your investment in the following way.
First, she will be mostly pregnant when you buy her. Secondly, you can buy a breed-back package, which means that you get 3 animals for the price of one.
Then if you are in touch with the market - visiting farms and shows, you get to hear about events such as some farmer going out of the business, or, another having one male too many. These instances correspond to great bargains which you can take advantage of, in your quest for quality stock
Then you can take advantage of financial purchase options. You can combine ownership of alpacas with family members and friends - sometimes stakes in high-quality animals are sold to investors. Again, many breeders are eager to offer lenient financial terms, in order to defer taxes on the profits they make in their dealings.
You would do well to insure the sizeable value of the alpaca, against death or theft. Theft of alpacas is rare - most of the animals are micro-chipped for identification purposes. However, sometimes, even guard dogs or and adequate fencing can't keep predators from attacking your alpacas.
Hence the advisability of taking insurance for the death of an alpaca. According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, on an average, annual insurance rates for alpacas are 3 % of their value.
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Richard Runion is the President of Geostar Publishing & Services LLC. His latest weblog on Alpaca rearing is fast becoming popular, as it is comprehensive and well-researched.