Chapter 2

Getting Started


Things to consider BEFORE you buy your first alpaca:

1.  Suri alpacas or  Huacayas ?           

This is entirely a personal preference.  Suri alpacas are known for their luxurious  fleece composed of distinct locks resembling dreadlocks.  Suri alpacas comprise 10-15% of the world’s  alpaca population.  Huacaya’s have a  distinctive “teddy-bear” face when young and have fleece known for crimp.  At Sun Spiced Alpacas, we are a bit prejudiced  and only breed Suri alpacas since we fell in love with the elegant nature of  the suris.

2.  Boarding or  Hands-on?          

Boarding alpacas is also known as agistment.  Many investors own alpacas but never take  possession and elect to agist their growing investment.  They have many of the tax advantages as a  passive owner as described in section 179 of the Federal Tax code.  Most alpaca farms offer agistment as a option  to new alpaca owners.  The primary  disadvantage of agistment is missing out on the day to day joy of alpaca  ownership.

3.  Visit several  farms when shopping for alpacas!          

For your first alpaca purchase, you are also looking for an  alpaca mentor.  You need a resource that  you can call with any silly question once the alpacas arrive at your home.  Ask many, many questions at each farm.  Why are the pastures arranged that way?  Why are those alpacas separated?  Why is this girl selling for $10,000 and the  one over there is selling for $40,000?   Are incoming alpacas sent to quarantine?

4.  Why do you want  alpacas?          

If you are looking for pets, then your best choice is a pair  of young males or “auntie” females.  You  cannot own only one alpaca since they require a herd of at least two to  survive.  If you are looking for breeding  stock as a financial investment, then shop wisely.  Always select quality over quantity.  The yearly cost to feed and shelter a quality  alpaca is the same as the bargain alpaca.   Remember that the crias from that quality female alpaca will certainly  sell at a better price than the cria from that homely bargain girl.

5.  Consider the  entire budget of alpaca ownership.          

Items to consider: alpacas, nutrition, vets, insurance,  facilities, transport, breeding fees, seminars, shearing, emergencies. Alpaca feed is currently at about $10-20 per 50 pound bag  depending upon your location and brand of alpaca feed.  Hay is $5-20 per square bale again depending upon  your location and the quality of the hay.   One alpaca will consume 0.5 – 1.0 pound of alpaca feed per day, but some  breeders do not feed any grain.  Each  alpaca will eat up to one flake of hay per day.   When the grass is good, ours eat almost no hay.  When the grass is poor in the winter, they  consume quite a bit.  Insurance will cost  3-4% of the alpaca value in yearly premiums.   The cost of fencing and barns will depend upon your current  facilities.  Transport may be as simple  as a mini-van or a larger stock trailer.