Alpaca Farming: Starting an Alpaca Farm


Alpaca is a domesticated animal reared for meat and hair. A distant relation of the camel they are known to grow luxurious winter coat-fibers.
The fibers are soft, durable and water resistant. Farming the animal is relatively stress- free except certain health, medical or food challenges.
To grow Alpaca you need a large expanse of land, fence and breeding stock. It is advisable to learn all you can about the exotic animal before venturing into the business.
Learn about the animal’s reproductive cycle, birth rate, feeding habits and growth rate. If the focus of your enterprise is to harvest fiber you need to patiently buildup your stock.
A moderate sized farm could have 100 alpaca residents for wool production. The business is highly regulated by governments and there are strict laws guiding importation. Major countries that farm alpaca are Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador.
Why start an Alpaca farm
Alpaca farming is very lucrative based on the different products made from the fiber. The business is done as a hobby, large or small scale.
You can start the business with a few animals and gradually scale up the enterprise. To start the business you need to acquire knowledge about the animal.
 Other things to consider are finance, location, physical structures, medication and purchasing parent stock.
Alpaca Products
Alpaca products are durable and long lasting. They are usually high quality items woven into various fashion items, clothing or home products.
The fiber is soft, has a natural luster and comes in a wide range of colors. The fabric has great absorbent quality, and non inflammable. Other features are elasticity, strength and durability.
The large collection of quality products includes footwear, handbags, totes purses, hats and hand bags. More items made from alpaca fiber are jackets, mittens, gloves, sweaters, scarves, shawls and toys.
Equipment
Apart from building a barn or parameter fencing you need a few equipment's to run your farm. You might need alpaca halters, head collars, lope ropes, birthing kit. Others are colostrums,  foot care, first aid kit, and shears.
alpaca
Sourcing Alpaca
Things to look out for before buying your alpaca are fertility, ability to lactate and easy birth. Focus on the breeder of choice program and methodology.
Request a certificate of mating and pregnancy confirmation. Others are husbandry records, history of sire and the temperament of the animal.
Find out if the breeder has a comprehensive after sales service. Make sure the animal passes a veterinary inspection test.
Once you have acquired the alpaca the breeder should provide a alpaca pedigree certificate to the new owner.
Challenges
The major challenge is the few herds available for sale. The relatively slow growth rate adversely affects the number of domesticated Alpaca in farms.
 Compounding the problem is low reproduction and long pregnancy of one year. A female alpaca manages only one young a year. This further reducing the stocking rate and amount of female you can buy.
There are strict laws guiding importation of foreign stock based on preserving the local wildlife from diseases.
Setting an Alpaca farm
You need to lease a property or purchase farm land. If you have adequate funding it is better to purchase the land.
You then need to build holding pens, shelters and barns. You can create an open field and build perimeter fencing.
Financials
Funding is needed to service fixed assets such as landed property, fencing and shelter. Other cost considerations are labor costs, purchasing the animal and equipment.
Some equipment’s you need are clippers, shears and halters. Secure bank loans and get insurance cover on animals. You also need a trade license, company registration and tax.
You can start with two animals and slowly develop your stock. The total investment should cover veterinary services, barn, fencing, feed and equipment.
Marketing
Fiber producers usually carry out the carding, spinning and weaving. This is not a hard and fast rule because the farmer can subcontract the spinning to another outfit.
Alpaca products attract high demand and patronage. You can sell your fabric to designers, cloth stores or textile firms.
Build a Website
 You can reach more customers by building a website and display goods and services. Offer visitors many choices, moderate prices and a shopping cart. Try free classified websites to sell your products.

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