Starting an Alpaca Farm requires several key steps such as planning barns and shelters, building fences, and financing your alpaca purchase.
Around the world, alpacas and alpaca farming are slowly gaining popularity. In fact, some have even dubbed it "The world’s finest investment". Alpaca fiber is both scarce and unique. Textiles and garments produced from Alpaca fleece are highly sought after worldwide, and well-known in the fashion industry. There is currently a high-demand for alpaca fiber here in the United States, and raw fiber prices are up world-wide.
Since the mid 80’s, Alpacas have caught the attention of people who love animals and enjoy raising livestock. Alpaca farms have emerged in many countries where they had never been seen before including France, New Zealand, Australia, England, Canada, and the United States. The increase is because raising Alpacas is both profitable and enjoyable.
Barns and Shelters
Proper shelter is one of the most important parts of an alpaca farm. Alpacas need to have shelter from the elements, such as the hot sun or the cold wind. This shelter may also be used to give medical treatments such as monthly de-worming shots. The size of the shelter will vary based on geographic locations. Weather should always be taken into account when designing a barn. In cold weather environments, an enclosed shelter is desired. In warmer environments, a three sided barn with one side open is sufficient. Because of their dense fleeces, alpacas are quite resilient to cold weather. They enjoy playing in the snow and will stay outside in very cold weather. However, during the summer, fans may be necessary to keep them cool. Alpacas also enjoy having their legs and underbellies sprayed with a hose.
Fencing and Gates
Unlike horses and other livestock, Alpacas usually do not challenge fences. Fencing should always be designed to keep away predators, as well as to prevent alpacas from grazing in areas where poisonous plants may be present.
Predators are the biggest concern when designing fencing. In most areas, 2" x 4" no-climb fencing is sufficient. This type of fence keeps the alpacas from getting their heads stuck between the fence boards. Posts should be spaced 10 feet apart with three fence clips on the welded wire. Cedar posts are a great choice because they last longer than normal wooden posts.
Greater precaution may need to be taken in mountainous areas where coyotes are abundant. Both exterior fencing and interior fencing should be considered with Anatolian shepherds patrolling the area between them.
Gates are important because they allow the alpacas to be smoothly transferred from one pen to the other. Making the gates swing from both sides allows easy access, especially in catch pens.
Financing can be very helpful to those who are just starting in the alpaca farming venture. Financial options can be used to accelerate the growth progress of the farm. Since alpacas only have one cria per year, it can take a while to grow a herd. Financing can provide the leverage necessary to ease this growth curve. There are many finance options currently being offered. Some of the benefits include: