An Alpaca farm needs...cute cushing camelids, of course, but there are many other things to consider before you purchase and before your first cuddly animal sets foot on your property. If you don't own acreage, you can board your animals at someone elses place, but it's not near as fun as watching your fuzzy critters grazing in your own fields. You can start small and grow.
Ranching is a great adventure. Generally, full-time farming means becoming a breeder and the sale of products made from the fiber can be your herd maintenance fund. If you want your business to thrive, then you must become knowledgable in husbandry and running a business, especially marketing. Protect your investment by learning all you can and never stop learning.
Ideal alpaca farm businesses start with conscientious breeders. Have a love and a passion for your business and it will flourish (along with some marketing skills and business sense). If you love what you do it will show in your attitude and be an infectious joy that will make other people want to join in your adventure. At the least it will make everyone jealous that you have found happiness in what you do.
You may like portions of a venture and not other parts. Who says you have to do it all? You can find someone else willing to take care of the sections you don't want to handle.
Recently, a rainbow appeared over our friendly camelid fields. We snapped a picture to share with you. It was really spectacular and stretched all the way across the sky.
Pretty cool, huh? Is the rainbow ending at the pot-o-gold? Wish we were better photographers and had captured our animals and the rainbow closer up. You can just barely see one of our male's in the lower left corner of the photo. Thought it was worth sharing anyway. Now on to learning about alpaca farms...
How much room do you need to start farming? Depends on how many you plan to raise and how much expansion of your herd is planned. The rule of thumb is 8-10 alpacas per acre, but 5 per acre is better.
What is an efficient
You want to make it easy on yourself and your animals. Our spread works for us but definitely could have been layed out better. We do not use laneways but we can see where it would be a great advantage.
A barn is nice!...But not always necessary. Our shelters are adequate for Eastern Washington. You'll have to decide based on your location if you need a barn. If you do, then you'll need to plan how to lay it out, too.
are a great shelter for some areas without the expense of having to put up a full barn. These are what we have on our farm and the alpacas do well with our 3 sided buildings.
A necessary part of alpaca farming is dealing with manure. We have compiled ten somewhat humorous but real
on this subject.
Alpaca farming isn't all work. We enjoy each one of our alpacas inivdual characteristics. If you have a minute, watch our video to see some of the characters that live on our farm.
Give worming shots yourself. Our
is easy to do. Some owners cut the tip off the plastic cap for the needle so the needle protrudes. This way they can jab, inject and move on to the next alpaca. We haven't tried this technique. (Having a nurse in the family comes in handy sometimes.) We thought we would mention it so you know there are other ways that may work for you.
You'll need fencing to keep your animals safe from predators. Do you know what kind of predators you have in your area? The neighbors dogs are our biggest worry. Check out our
alpaca farm fencing
to find out what we did to ensure the safety of our animals. Maybe it will work for you.
You'll need a way to transport your animals to the vet, shows, off farm shearing and breeding, and anywhere else you might want to take your precious fiber producers. Our tips on
will hopefully help you avoid some of our mistakes.
We have a gun that's handy for stray dogs. While we don't like to kill an animal, we have to protect our livestock. We live next to a state gameland where people tend to dump their dogs. An animal left to fend for itself will kill your cuddly camelid when they are starving. And sometimes a dog will kill just for fun as one local owner lost 10 of his alpacas to a dog that somehow managed to get in one of the pastures.
There are basic equipment and supplies that your farm will need and some that are a nice to have item. We are just a small farm and don't have a lot of capital. Our alpacas are well taken care of with the minimum investment in equipment. You will have to decide what
is essential and what your business can do without.
MORE ABOUT FARMING
Winter can be hard if your not prepared. Learn from our mistake by visiting our
winter care tips