You may have to pay between 15,000 and 20,000 dollars, on average, for the first alpaca you buy. The price depends on the purpose for which you are buying the animal. As I have explained in a previous article, the purpose of buying could be to sell the fleece, or breed stock to be sold later, or simply to raise the animal as a pet.
If you are planning to buy a fair number of animals, you would do well to buy from a number of different sources. Then you will not only have greater genetic diversity, but you will have a number of ranchers whom you can consult if you have any questions, or need any encouragement. Thereby, you could also benefit from diverse experiences and advice.
Next, ranchers usually have different packages that they sell. Most often, the first purchase is a maiden female - which has not been bred, because she will have a baby in a year, increasing the herd size, when bred.
Animals bought can be male or female, bred or not bred - i. e. “proven", or “not proven". And you will usually get another low-cost, non-registered companion animal to go along with your maiden female.
Another common purchase is a 3-in-1. This consists of a pregnant dam along with a cria from a previous year.
Another package is known as a “breed back". That is, if you have bought a pregnant dam, you can have her bred again, after she has given birth to her cria. This package also often includes breed backs for the mother and any daughters when they are old enough to be bred.
You may choose to board the alpacas you buy in somebody else's farm, in case you don't have land. Along with your first buy, if you are given financial assistance, you could start alpaca farming, immediately.
Look to buy an alpaca with a good temperament - that has had plenty of human contact, but not too much. A male cria that has been bottle-fed by a human may try to breed with that person. There are redirection techniques you can use to resolve such behavior problems.
Also, alpacas, like some other grazing animals, have a herd instinct - this must be taken into account when planning a herd, or buying one or two for bringing up as pets.
There is also the color factor - you can plan a herd of fairly large size, having many colors. The most popular colors are black and gray, especially rose gray. White is also sough after, as it can be dyed.
You can learn a lot about various values relating to conformation and fleece density from existing alpaca breeders, and by looking at many alpacas with different fibers.
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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.