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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    231

    Question

    Can any one recommend any good books in regards to raising a small number of alpacas for fun (and profit)?

    Basically I’m just looking at things to do for the future, not particularly any time soon, and I’ve heard a good deal about raising alpacas being a satisfying task. I doubt I’d be getting in to it full time, likely just a side line business.

    Any one similarly have any good tips or experiences they wish to share regarding raising Alpacas?
    -Robert<br /><a href=\"http://photos.bobsbees.com\" target=\"_blank\">Photos and Such</a>

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,102

    Post

    &gt;Can any one recommend any good books in regards to raising a small number of alpacas for fun (and profit)?

    No. I met some alpacas once. They were very sweet personable animals. A bit small though. [img]smile.gif[/img] My pets are almost 17hh.

    &gt;Any one similarly have any good tips or experiences they wish to share regarding raising Alpacas?

    I've been raising horses for a while and thought I could make money at it. [img]smile.gif[/img] I'm still trying to do that, but I'm not so sure you can make money raising things that you have to feed. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    231

    Post

    I’m not necessarily looking to make money, I’d likely be happy if I could break even, though I would not dismiss the idea of profit.

    I’ve got big plans right now, though I don’t know if they will amount to anything. I’m still rather young (23) and I’m several generations removed from any real farming or ranching, with a formal education in Computer Science. I’ve simply enjoyed gardening, my recent endeavor in beekeeping and I’ve always enjoyed the company of animals. What I’m thinking was a nice sized plot of land with enough bees to have a sideline business, chickens primarily eggs, a large garden enough for my self, family and fiends (or even a few to sell at a local market). Now I’m just wondering if alpacas would fit nicely in to the plan as well.
    -Robert<br /><a href=\"http://photos.bobsbees.com\" target=\"_blank\">Photos and Such</a>

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    Good alpaca genetics will run you around 5K for a breeding pair...

    BubbaBob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    231

    Post

    I'd think if I could find a good breeding pair for $5,000 I'd be getting quite a deal.
    In the very minor research I did this morning I found I'd be paying at minimum of twice that for a breeding female and any where between 500 and 15K for a male. Is there any place in particular your quoting that price from BubbaBob?
    -Robert<br /><a href=\"http://photos.bobsbees.com\" target=\"_blank\">Photos and Such</a>

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Do they taste good?? A lady once offered to give me one of her Lamma's (after it spit snot at me) and I asked her that question........ the offer was recanted.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    231

    Post

    If I understand correctly they are a food staple in areas such as Peru, though I'm interested in wool and cute fuzzy animals, not lunch.
    -Robert<br /><a href=\"http://photos.bobsbees.com\" target=\"_blank\">Photos and Such</a>

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    With all "alternative" livestock (lamas, alpacas,
    emus, miniature anything, pot-bellied pigs...)
    the only actual money is in selling breeding
    pairs to newcomers to the hobby.

    So, you have a "pyramid scheme" or "MLM program"
    of sorts, where actual profit requires you to
    convince others to make a sunk capital
    investment on the expectation of making money
    themselves, as revenues from ongoing operations
    are simply not enough for even cost recovery
    unless one becomes a "breeder".

    I would happily contract for every pound of
    cleaned fiber you could produce, as my mother
    spins and weaves, and loves working with alpaca
    fiber. (You should see my sweaters!)

    But this is not going to make you profitable.
    Profit comes from sale of animals, not from
    the sale of fiber alone.

    At some point, the "market" becomes overloaded
    with people who want to sell breeding pairs, and
    no one is profitable except those with the
    capital to stand pat while others fold.

    Our recent heat wave was a classic example of
    how the cost of ownership of Alpacas is high.
    I got an emergency request from my mother's
    primary fiber supplier for a portable generator.
    It was really hot, the alpacas needed fans
    and a water spray to stay cool, and they
    had lost power, meaning no well pump, and
    no fans. Without power, the animals would
    have suffered in such heat. I dunno if they
    would have died.

    If I was to expand our livestock holdings
    beyond the current roster, I would get
    Scottish Highland Cattle. These beasties
    look like they were designed by Jim Henson,
    and are really no more trouble than any
    other cow. But mostly, they just look kewl.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,566

    Post

    My dad raised and raced horses until he couldn't physically handle them any longer. I learned early that it was much cheaper to just drive by the racetrack throwing $20 bills out the window than it was to try and stay ahead of the ponies. Seems like almost all forms of livestock and agriculture are a tough way to turn a profit.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Jim hit the nail on the head.

    It is indeed a pyramid scheme. I was investigating raising elk and as Jim noted, the money is in selling off breeding stock to to others with the same "dream". I nixed the idea because the meat product just didn't seem to catch on with the public enough.

    I remember several years ago when ostrich was a big fad. The "new" wonder meat.

    All that said, I am still going to get a couple of elk to raise purely for meat for myself, family, and friends.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    arctic, the investigation I did on raising Alpacas ended when I saw the initial investment in animals alone...I didn't dig real deep when I already knew I was priced out of the market, but as I recall, the figures you quoted were from "name" breeders. A good 2-3 generation downline from those animals can be had for about 5K.

    As for making money with agriculture, I believe it can be done from scratch (I hope so...I'm trying), but you won't do it by playing in the big boys sandbox.

    The word "niche" comes to mind.

    I don't know or care about Sue Bee Honey prices. I don't compete with them. I go for the speciality market.

    Homemade soap. I label mine "handcrafted" and get $4 for a 4 oz bar...and sell all I can make.

    My mushrooms aren't profitable yet as it takes a year, but next year they will be because I'm not trying to sell common button mushrooms, I'm selling speciality oysters and shiitakes to high end restaraunts and personal chefs that will pay top dollar.

    The newest thing, goats, are the same as the mushrooms...top dollar speciality products...chrvre cheese at a buck an ounce and milk at $8/gal.

    Go small...sustainable agriculture, speciality market things. It can be profitable.

    BubbaBob

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Post

    Here is a place to check for ideas. Alpacas, like llamas, will be hard to make money at. We have a few local growers who are making money on turkeys, they raise them organically, and sell them to an upscale co-op in the cities. Another thing you might want to look into is the CSA (community supported agriculture) concept.

    http://www.albc-usa.org/wtchlist.htm

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    247

    Post

    I keep my hives on an Alpaca farm in upstate NY. They have been very successful taking a diversified approach with sheep, beef cattle and alpacas (just got out of the dairy business). They have about 18-20 alpacas and occassionally sell one, although they passed on one sale this spring for two animals at $15,000 each as they are attempting to increase the herd. Alpacas eat low protein food like hay and grass, and can actually get very ill on the rich diet dairy cattle eat (too much grain and alfalfa). They only produce one offspring per year and are generally low maintenance. Prices generally run in the $12,000 to $18,000 range.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Kansas City, MO
    Posts
    169

    Post

    Bob Harrison, who is on this forum has them. I don't know if he has a website or not. His farm is Busy Bee Acres. He and his wife show them at the Missouri State Fair - which begins next week!

    Martha
    Martha

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Worthington, Pennsylvania USA
    Posts
    1,848

    Post

    We have raised a lot of critters over the years and always made sure that they were edible if the market got saturated, the pyramid schemes that some of us get into to make an extra buck are not always what they appear. Have fun and enjoy.
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,102

    Post

    &gt;you might want to look into is the CSA (community supported agriculture)

    I had a belt buckle with that on it when I was a kid. So THAT's what that stands for. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,074

    Post

    Jim is right on the money!! When the ostrich and emu markets crashed, you couldn't give them away. Better to find something easier, and less costly, like, ohh, BEEKEEPING, that's the ticket, why didn't I think of that before?

    peggjam
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    342

    Post

    I'm afraid I also have to agree with Jim. We "raise" the rescue animals that people dump after they realize that they goofed big time by investing in get rich animal schemes. So people like us have to provide a place for these animals to comfortably and safely live out the rest of their lives. Most of these animals we get for free. Do we make money with such a low investment? Get real! The outgo for barns, fencing, food, vets, and the time for their care costs us a bundle. There is no profit whatsoever, but it is a labor of love.

    If you want alpacas or llamas or pygmy goats, or potbellied pigs, etc..consider animal rescue...and then be prepared to devote yourself for the rest of their lives.
    Buy locally, buy only humanely raised animals, eat in season, keep bees!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Plano, North Texas
    Posts
    318

    Post

    I tried raising angora rabbits for fiber $ and they ate me out of house and home. It was nice when I got a few bucks from the nice lady who made sweaters, but it never paid for their feed, much less all the other expenses. Still, I had a lot of fun with them, and I spent a lot of time with my boys brushing them and tinkering. The educational aspects of raising them are very good. I'm glad I did it and glad I got out.
    "Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. . . . I will try to keep this short as long as I can." Yogi Berra

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