Rose Arbor Farm
Jim & Tina Lawrence
|32178 S Burkert Road|
Woodburn, Oregon 97071
The Suri Network
Supplemental and Retirement Income!
Alpacas have a strong market, for both well-bred animals and their excellent fiber. Alpacas have a gestation period of just under one year, so your investment can reproduce itself each year. The birth of a female alpaca is always welcome, because of the reproduction factor. The birth of a male alpaca can be just as welcome, if he shows favorable traits. An award-winning male can earn stud fees and enhance the reputation of your herd.
Alpaca fiber is extremely soft and warm. It has softness comparable to cashmere or angora rabbit. However the fiber is hollow and this provides a much higher insulating value. It is roughly five times as warm as wool.
American alpacas provide a very small percentage of the world's fiber market, and is processed mostly by cottage industry mills and hand spinners. A cooperative exists, which is working to unite the US market, to be able to gain the benefits of processing larger volumes of fiber and to market on a national level. As the market for domestic alpaca fiber increases, this aspect of raising alpacas will enhance the income potential from these unique animals.
Fun and Easy to Work With!
Alpacas are fun and easy to work with. They are friendly and curious and are always happy to see you when you go out to the barnyard, especially if you have some grain! Their herding instincts keep them together in a group and make it easier to move them from one place to another. Alpacas adjust very quickly to being haltered and led. Alpacas can be transported many ways. Because alpacas kneel down, or "cush" when they travel, you can take an animal to the vet or other short distance in the back of a van or SUV. For longer distances or greater numbers, a trailer is more convenient and some breeders offer transport services coast to coast in air-conditioned luxury.
Alpacas are members of the camelid family. They are natives of South America, and have been domesticated in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia for thousands of years. They are "cousins" to llamas. Alpacas and llamas are related to wild vicuna and guanaco respectively. They have been prized since ancient times for their extremely soft fine fiber. In the early 1980's, alpacas were imported to this country from South America, and are now one of the fastest growing and most profitable segments of the livestock industry.
Expertise and Support Available to Help in Your Business
One nice trait of the alpaca breeding business is that support is almost always included in your purchase of alpacas. This means that when you purchase your alpacas, you will have someone that is willing, able, and in our case, excited to help you get started in your business. There are several layers of help and information as you embark on this adventure!
At the national level, Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA), is made up of thousands of owners and breeders and serves the following purpose:
(1) To promote public awareness and membership appreciation of the Alpaca's unique qualities; (2) To educate the membership on the care and breeding of the Alpaca; (3) To promote the growth of the Alpaca industry as a whole; and (4) To foster the establishment of the breed outside of its native land by encouraging husbandry and breeding practices based upon, but not limited to, herd health, overall soundness, and alpaca fiber production and products.
AOBA also sanctions the many shows for alpacas and alpaca fiber.
There are also many regional affiliates that provide value to your new business. Here in the Portland, Oregon area we belong to the Columbia Alpaca Breeder Association (CABA). CABA sponsors events that help the new breeder such as "Alpaca 101" classes, neonatal care, and it also unites breeders for combined purchasing power.
In addition, many of the shows and auctions have educational and informative opportunities as part of the event. Many books, such as The Complete Alpaca Book by Eric Hoffman, and magazines such as Alpaca Magazine, published by AOBA exist to educate and promote Alpaca ownership. A multitude of resources are also available on the web, such as www.AlpacaNation.com, this and many other sites that provide information about alpaca ownership.
Care and Feeding
Alpacas are relatively low maintenance animals. On a daily basis they require a small amount of grain for vitamins and minerals, access to salt, pasture or hay, and fresh water. A simple three-sided shelter is sufficient protection from the sun and wind unless weather conditions are extreme. Toenails need to be trimmed every few months, an easy task, and shearing annually which is best left to the pros. A twice yearly "herd health" visit with the vet covers immunization, worming, and a general physical exam. These animals are naturally sturdy and healthy, but there are many excellent books and seminars to help new owners be prepared for breeding, birthing, and injuries or illness when they occur. These give you the confidence to know what you can deal with yourself and when it is time to call the vet.
Alpacas require much less land than cows or horses, so they are suitable for farms with small acreage. The number of alpacas per acre varies from 5 to 20, depending on pasture quality, rainfall, and how much hay the owner wants to feed. Grain is a supplement and does not make up a large part of the diet.
Fencing is necessary to keep the alpacas in their pasture and keep would-be predators out. Some farms use four-foot field wire, but five-foot no-climb is better protection. Pastures can also be "dressed up" with traditional horse style 3 or 4 rail fencing outside the field wire.
Those who desire the financial benefits of alpaca ownership who don't have farms can board, or "agist" the alpacas with a breeder for about $3.00 per day.
A Fairly Secure Investment
Alpaca prices started and have remained high since alpacas were first imported in 1983. There are several reasons for this:
1) The US alpaca market is protected by the Alpaca Registry Inc. (ARI). The registry validates lineage scientifically and only offspring of currently registered alpacas can be registered.
2) Alpacas only reproduce once a year, keeping the number of alpacas available fairly low.
3) Demand for the specialty fiber they produce is increasing. The fiber is luxuriously soft and stronger, warmer, and lighter than sheep's wool.
There are alpaca herds in all fifty states and the industry continues to grow. Alpacas can live up to 25 years and females produce cria (baby alpacas) almost that long.
Alpacas can also be insured up to their full value, to help protect your investment.
Angel & Cerise, our first two females...