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Why do people in so many countries call alpacas, "The worlds finest livestock
investment?" For any investment to be valuable, it must possess certain
qualities which make it desirable. Gold is scarce, real estate provides
shelter, oil produces energy, bonds earn interest, stocks are supposed to
increase in value, and diamonds symbolize love. Alpacas share many of these
investment attributes. Around the world, alpacas are in strong demand, and
people pay high prices for them. They are scarce, unique, and the textiles
produced from their fiber are known in the fashion centers of Paris, Milan and
Tokyo. There are excellent profit opportunities and tax advantages available to
alpaca breeders. Historically, the alpaca's value has sustained ancient
cultures, such as the Incas of Peru, and today alpacas are the sustaining
economic force for millions of South Americans. History has validated the value
of the alpaca.
Livestock, or animals raised for profit, was an investment long before
financial stocks were sold on the New York Stock Exchange. The richest families
of ancient times counted their wealth by the size of their flocks of sheep or
herds of cattle. Today, wealth as a result of livestock ownership is not as
common, but tending to a graceful herd of alpacas can also be an exciting way
to earn a substantial cash flow and live a rewarding lifestyle.
Alpaca breeders enjoy nurturing their animals every bit as much as receiving
the profits they provide. The man who created the "Beefmaster" cattle from
imported Limousine stock made the following observation: "I know a lot of
doctors and lawyers who would like to be cowboys, but I don't know any cowboys
who would trade places with them." A retired doctor who is now a full time
alpaca breeder had this to say: "I would rather raise alpacas than anything
I've ever done. Breeding alpacas is a labor of love and very profitable."
Since 1984, alpacas have appeared, almost simultaneously, in several countries
where they had never been seen before. The U.S., Canada, New Zealand, France,
Australia and England have all acquired the foundation animals for national
herds. What makes this animal so desirable? Bottom line: alpacas are both
profitable and enjoyable.
So what IS an alpaca?
Alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played
a central role in the Incan culture that was located on the high Andean Plateau
and mountains of South America. Alpacas were first imported to the United
States in 1984. Alpacas are now being successfully raised and enjoyed
throughout North America and abroad. There are two types of alpacas - the
Huacaya and the Suri. The lifespan of the alpaca is about 20 years and
gestation is 11.5 months. Alpacas eat grasses and chew a cud. They are about
36" tall at the withers and weigh about 150 pounds. They are gentle and easy to
handle. Alpacas are safe; they don't bite or butt. Even if they did, without
incisors, horns, hoofs or claws, little harm can be done. Clean-up is easy
since alpacas deposit droppings in only a few places in the paddock. They
require minimal fencing and can be pastured at 5 to 10 per acre.
Alpacas produce one of the world's finest and most luxurious natural fibers. It
is clipped from the animal without causing it injury. Soft as cashmere and
warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, it comes in more colors than any other
fiber producing animal (approximately 22 basic colors with many variations and
blends).This cashmere-like fleece, once reserved for Incan royalty, is now
enjoyed by spinners and weavers around the world.
Alpaca owners enjoy a strong and active national organization. The Alpaca
Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) with a growing number of Regional
Affiliates and AOBA sanctioned national committees addressing every aspect of
The newly formed Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America (AFCNA) accepts
fleece from its members, and turns the precious textile into quality alpaca
garments and products. Members benefit from a ready outlet for their fiber,
while the cooperative works to increase awareness of and demand for this every
The Alpaca Registry has been established to help ensure accurate records and
has a state-of the-art system to document bloodlines. Alpacas must be blood
typed in order to be registered. Virtually every alpaca in the U.S. is
The joy, ease of care and potential profitability of raising alpacas has
attracted people from many walks of life to become breeders. For some, alpacas
are a primary source of income, for others a part-time business venture, but a
source of pleasure for both. Young couples with children can enjoy the benefits
of owning and caring for alpacas as a rewarding family experience. People who
have raised their kids and are seeking a business and lifestyle to enjoy as
they approach retirement are often owners. Ultimately, whether making the
switch from a fast-paced, corporate way of life, or adding alpacas to an
already established rural setting, breeding these unique, gentle animals can
provide both income and pleasure, all included in a peaceful, stress-free
This lifestyle is made possible since alpacas can be raised on relatively small
acreage and they are clean, safe, quiet, intelligent and disease resistant.
Alpacas have soft padded feet, are gentle on the land and can be easily
There are also plenty of family-oriented alpaca events around the country,
including local and state fairs, alpaca farm open houses and auctions, and
larger shows hosted by alpaca organizations, the largest and most impressive
being the annual Alpaca conference and show presented by AOBA. Some breeders
also choose to get involved in selling products made from alpaca fiber as a
hobby or an additional home-based business venture. The spinning and weaving of
fiber is a skill that can lead to profits.
Alpacas have brought impressive financial returns to families all across
America, but it's the fun and hands-on nature of this lifestyle that has really
captivated people searching for a simpler and more rewarding way of life. Even
if you don't have the land and are committed to a full-time career, you can
still begin your alpaca adventure by purchasing and boarding at a nearby alpaca
farm or ranch. A retired doctor who is now a full time alpaca breeder had this
to say, "I would rather raise alpacas than anything I've ever done. Breeding
alpacas is a labor of love and can be very profitable."
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