Why do people in so many countries call Alpacas,
"The world's finest livestock investment?"
For any investment to be valuable, it must possess certain qualities
which make it desirable. Gold is scarce, real estate provides
shelter, oil produces energy, bonds earn interest, stocks are
supposed to increase in value and diamonds symbolize love. Alpacas
share many of these investment attributes.
Around the world, Alpacas are in strong demand, and people pay
high prices for them. They are scarce, unique, and the textiles
produced from their fiber are known in the fashion centers of
Paris, Milan and Tokyo. There are excellent profit opportunities
and tax advantages to Alpaca breeders and investors. Historically,
the Alpaca's value has sustained ancient cultures, such as the
Incas of Peru, and today Alpacas are the sustaining economic force
for millions of South Americans. History has validated the value
of the Alpaca.
"Livestock," or animals raised for profit, was an investment long
before financial stocks were sold on the New York Stock Exchange.
The richest families of ancient times counted their wealth by
the size of their flocks of sheep or herds of cattle.
Today, wealth as a result of livestock ownership is not as common,
but tending to a graceful herd of Alpacas can also be an exciting
way to earn a substantial cash flow and live a rewarding lifestyle.
Alpaca breeders enjoy nurturing their animals every bit as much
as receiving the profits they provide. The man who created the
"Beefmaster" cattle from imported Limousine stock made the following
observation: "I know a lot of doctors and lawyers who would like
to be cowboys, but I don't know any cowboys who would trade places
What makes this animal so desirable?
The bottom line: alpacas can be both profitable and enjoyable.
Alpaca breeders are in business for the long run; they believe
in the future of the industry. With the relatively small number
of alpacas currently available, there will be an extended and
steady demand for breeding stock to continue meeting the needs
of our growing industry for many years.
Alpaca breeders come from many walks of life. For some, Alpacas
are a source of income, for others a source of pleasure. Young
couples with children might own three or four Alpacas and enjoy
caring for them. Retired couples, who have raised their kids,
sold their business, and retired to the country are often owners.
The family whose members include a hand spinner might own two
or three animals for fiber production. Several larger breeders
are veterinarians who found the ownership of Alpacas to be more
rewarding than practicing veterinary medicine. Many herds are
owned by families, where the husband has a city job, and the Alpaca
business is managed by the wife on their small acreage in the
country. A large number of breeders are working couples who tend
their herd in the evening after work. All of these Alpaca breeders,
big and small, enjoy their animals and feel good about owning
an investment they can hug.
Some investors don't actually raise their animals, They live in
the city, and are building their herd toward the day they might
change careers, or retire to the country life. Some investors
invest solely for the exceptional returns Alpacas provide. For
all investors, Alpacas offer a great way to diversify their investment
portfolio with a commodity that is both rare and in demand worldwide.
There are big ranches with over 100 Alpacas, and small farms of
only two or three Alpacas. The average Alpaca herd is made up
of about eight to ten Alpacas. Most herds start out small and
evolve to the size which fits the breeder's farm and financial
The developing market for Alpacas has been moderated by the effects
of relatively slow herd growth. As of early 2009, the total population
of registered alpacas is about 150,000 in the United States.
Supply will continue to be limited in the near future for a number
• Alpacas reproduce slowly. A female is pregnant for 11-12 months, and almost always only has one cria per year.
• Many breeders retain their offspring, building their herds.
• The U.S. alpaca registry is closed to further importation to protect our national herd.
• Mass production of "cria," or babies, via embryo transplant
is not feasible, since there is no available supply of suitable
• The limited size of the national herds in each country
outside of South America will restrain growth to a small degree.
Meanwhile, demand for alpacas has increased dramatically every year since
their introduction outside of South America (1984). There are more breeders
entering the alpaca market each year in established countries such as Canada,
New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. This growth is sure to continue as the alpaca gains international recognition.
Alpacas offer an outstanding choice for livestock ownership. They have long been known
as the aristocrat of all ranch animals. Most of all, alpacas have a charismatic manner,
they do very well on small acreage, and they produce a luxury product which is high in demand.
There are essentially two ways to own alpacas.
The ifrst approach is to simply purchase the animals and begin
The second is to purchase the animals and place them in the care
of an established breeder. This arrangement for care and boarding
of an animal on behalf of another is known as agistment.
Analyzing the feasibility of alpaca ownership
requires a set of assumptions. Determinig the costs associated
with raising the animals and what other requirements are involved.
Prices for shelter, fencing and labor vary widely based on geographic
location, as well as individual needs and tastes.
If you manage the herd yourself, you'll require an inventory of
halters, shears, toenail clippers, lead ropes, and other miscellineous
gear, tools and equipment. Insurance is a consideration, and cost
about 3.25% of the purchase price paid yearly in advance.
If a person were to begin raising alpacas at his or her ranch,
a typical start-up budget might look like this:
Acquisition of one pregnant female and one young female.......$35,000
Insurance on animals for one year.............................................$
Small barn and fences...............................................................$30,000
One year's feed.............................................................................$
Veterinarian and miscellaneous reserve......................................$1,100
Costs are rough estimates for comparison purposes
only. Actual cost may vary.
The hands-on method of raising alpacas as part- or full-time business,
requires that the alpaca breeder own a small ranch or acreage.
The property should be properly fenced and have a small barn or
What are the first steps?