The Alpaca lifestyle

What's it like to raise these fuzzy creatures?

who raises them?

Raising alpacas is a lifestyle and investment available to many, from the empty-nester to a family with children to the professional looking for an outlet to daily stress. While the individuals and families who have decided to experience the alpaca adventure are widely diverse in their backgrounds, they share a common love for animals and a desire work with them as either a business or hobby endeavor.  Alpacas meet the qualifications for such a lifestyle effortlessly. Families with children will appreciate how alpacas are so gentle and easy to handle, and they may want to become involved in the many family-oriented events around the country. Fairs, auctions, shows, and on-the-farm activities are just some of the events in which to participate.

Alpacas, whether pets, fiber animals, or breeding stock, are the ideal livestock for small acreage, offering tax advantages as well as many lifestyle benefits.  They promote outdoor activity and can foster family cohesion.  They are safe for children and make excellent 4H projects.  Alpacas can be trained to do obstacle courses and to perform tricks.  Their naturally calm nature will lift your spirits, and their adorable appearance and endearing ways will steal your heart.  Alpacas are a great new lifestyle for retired people as well.  They provide investment opportunity and the stimulation of learning a new business, along with the joy of caring for such delightful animals.

How many alpacas do people have?

There are few large ranches with over 500 alpacas, small ranches of only two or three alpacas, and everything in between.  The average alpaca herd consists of about ten to twenty alpacas.  Most herds start out small and grow to the size that fits the breeder's ranch and financial goals. Many urban dwellers find that they can raise a small herd of alpacas and enjoy the benefits they offer by agisting (boarding) them.

Revenue stream

The highly prized fleece of the alpaca has inspired many to start in-home "cottage industries" which involve shearing the alpacas and spinning the fiber of their own animals into yarn that can be made into high quality apparel while others market the fiber through the support of organized fiber co-ops. For those who are interested in "living off the grid" and getting back to basics, the alpaca fits in wonderfully with this way of life.  Many families that are raising their own food, canning, composting, going solar, etc., find that the alpaca is an added source of revenue by providing luxurious fleece that can be sold or processed into finished goods, as well as offspring which may be sold to others desiring to raise them. 

The future

Almost all breeders are in business for the long haul; 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 this growing industry for many years. The future of the alpaca fiber market continues to be bright.  Breeders in America are now preparing for the day when their alpaca farms can supply enough alpaca fiber to meet the growing demand for a national alpaca textile industry.

Duties of caring for alpacas

Overall, the daily duties of owning an alpaca livestock operation are, daily herd evaluation, feeding twice each day of hay and supplement (should you chose to provide supplements to your alpaca's diet), providing fresh water, mucking of the barn and cleaning pastures. In the winter heat lamps are used in cold climates as well as heated water tubs. In the summer months keeping your alpacas cool is just as important. Fans, fresh water, shade, toddler pools, sprinklers or spraying your alpacas down (from your hose) to cool their bellies and legs is very helpful.

Monthly responsibilities would be herd health (weighing your animals, worming shots, vaccinations, trimming toenails, evaluating teeth and mouth, feet, weight score (refer to your veterinarian manual or ask your veterinarian details about weight score).  Annual duties will be birthing, breeding, shearing, halter training and showing your alpacas should you decide to do so.

The best part?  enjoying them!

Hands down, the best part of the alpaca way of life is simply watching them and enjoying their varied personalities and the often comical things they do.  Crias "pronking" in the pasture will delight you, and earning their trust as they eat treats from your hand will warm your heart.  Seeing them warming their bodies in the sun, or racing around the field never gets tiresome. After all, alpacas are the "World's Best Livestock" for a very good reason, and those that raise them know precisely what that reason is. Call to arrange a visit to The Alpaca Hacienda, and you can experience for yourself these wonderful, magical creatures called Alpacas.

The Alpaca ​Hacienda