Why should I become an Alpaca owner or breeder ?
The getting back to nature and the basics of living a "Lifestyle" is what is so appealing to many people searching for a business opportunity that can be operated from home and will involve the whole family.
What type of people will purchase Alpacas ?
People who own a Lifestyle Block of land and who love animals are the people who will become involved in the Alpaca Industry.
Lifestyle block owners want an animal that does not push through fences, is easy to care for, does not pug up the paddocks in the winter and is a dream to handle and be with.
Alpacas offer all of these qualities, and many more.
What sort of Land is best suited for Alpacas ?
Alpacas are now in New Zealand from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island.
They love hills to run around on and don't mind the wet clays in the winter.
They will basically live and thrive in all conditions all over New Zealand.
What is the down side to owning Alpacas ?
There is no down side now to owning Alpacas as Breeding Females can be purchased at very reasonable prices.
You need to start with two animals, as they hate being on their own.
I guess the down side is that 2 Alpacas is just not enough.
What do you do with an Alpaca ?
Firstly, they provide an excellent investment opportunity and secondly they produce the most luxurious natural fleece on the planet.
As an Investment Opportunity it would currently be the worlds finest Livestock Investment available.
Their fleece is known for it's fineness, light weight and lustre. Alpaca textile products are recognised world-wide.
Why are Alpacas such a good Investment ?
The Alpaca's high value and high rate of return make them viable even on small lifestyle Blocks of land. Alpacas are scarce out side of South America and their fleece is superb and in high demand on the world market place.
Why will Alpacas numbers continue to rise in New Zealand and Australia ?
Peru & Chile have no more available grazing for any more animals, any future production of Alpaca Fleece will be coming from New Zealand and Australia.
Do Alpacas have any other uses besides their Fleece ?
They make great Pets and companion animals.
There is a growing trend to show these animals due to their high aesthetic appeal.
They have loveable natures and can easily be trained to lead and are so gentle that small children can lead them in parades.
More recently, Alpacas are being used for meat. Their meat is extremely lean and healthy to eat.
What are the correct names for Alpacas ?
The Males are called Machos.
The Females are called Hembras.
The Babies are called Crias When a Cria turns one year old it is called a Tui.
How long do Alpaca's live for ?
They live for up to 25 years, this is one of the reasons why they make a good investment as you could with good management expect to get 15 to 20 Cria from a breeding female over her life span.
At what age do Alpaca's start Breeding ?
The Females can be mated at 12 months of age but we usually wait until they are 2 years old, while the Males are not used as stud animals until they are usually two and a half to three years old.
How long are the Female Alpacas pregnant for ?
A long time! The gestation period is usually 335 to 355 days which is just under 12 months and they only ever have one Cria at time, half are boys and the other half are girls.
What do Alpacas eat ?
They mostly live on grass. They are ruminants, which means they chew their cud like a cow.
Because Alpacas evolved in harsh conditions, they utilise their food more efficiently than other ruminants.
Alpaca's love meadow hay, lucerne hay and are more of a browser than a grazer.
They eat more like a goat than a sheep.
They also like Alpaca Nuts as a treat.
Are Alpacas Intelligent ?
Yes. Alpacas are highly intelligent animals who are quick to learn what you expect from them.
They are constantly communicating with each other using a variety of body postures and a variety of different sounds.
The sound most heard is a soft humming which is as unique as the animal itself.
What sort of fencing do Alpacas need ?
Nothing extra is required other than ordinary farm fences. Deer Fencing is not needed at all.
Some Alpaca Farmers use Post and Timber fences but only because it looks so good and the animals look so good behind this type of fence.
Alpacas don't challenge fences.
Are Alpacas easy to look after ?
As they are small animals they are easy to look after and require no special care at all.
They simply need shearing once a year, worming and vaccinations when required.
Unlike sheep they don't get foot rot, fly strike and usually get very few worms.
How do you shear Alpacas ?
Alpacas don't have a flexible back bone so you can't shear them the same way as a sheep although you can use the same equipment that a sheep shearer uses.
You can use a board on the floor or use a specially designed shearing table to shear Alpacas.
You gently stretch the animal out on the table, shear one side and then the other.
Someone has to sit on a stool and hold their head the entire time or you can use a halter and tie them to the table.
How many Alpacas can you run to the acre ?
With good stock rotation you can run 7 or 8 to the acre.
They actually eat less than a sheep does.
If you use supplementary feeds then you can run more than this.
Can you run Alpacas with other Animals ?
Yes you can.
The only consideration here is whether the animals you want to run with your Alpacas will hurt the Alpacas.
The Alpaca is a very gentle animal.
How many Alpacas do you need to start with ?
You must start with at least two animals.
Alpacas are a herd animal and hate being on their own.
No reputable breeder should sell you just one animal unless you already have two and you are just adding to your herd.
Do Alpacas have twins ?
Alpacas are a very slow breeder in that they only ever have one Cria.
They are pregnant for eleven and a half months.
They feed their Cria for about 6 months at which stage they are usually taken off of mum and weaned.
This gives mum six months to get back into good condition and ready for the next Cria.
When do Alpacas have their Cria ?
Usually between 8.00am and 2.00pm on sunny days.
If a Cria is born later than this time then there was probably a problem giving birth.
If a Cria is born at night then something was very wrong.
Alpacas usually wait until a fine day to give birth as well, this happens in 98% of the births and it always pays to keep a careful watch on any females due to give birth.
What is it called when an Alpaca gives birth ?
As a baby Alpaca is called a Cria then giving birth is called "Unpacking" or Criation"
Are Alpacas dangerous ?
Alpacas are totally safe even for young children to manage.
They do not bite or butt and they do not have teeth, horns, hooves or claws to do you any serious injury.
Alpacas will never charge or run through you in a pen or a corner, in fact they do the opposite in that they stand still so that you can catch them.
They are unlike no other farm animal to handle.
How do you round Alpacas up ?
The easiest way is to just call them.
If you need to round them up into a pen then a piece of rope between two people is the best way of doing this.
It is easier to lead these animals than to try and push them.
Can you keep Male and Female Alpacas together ?
Once the Females are pregnant they want no part of the Macho at all.
The Male will only annoy the girls so there is no point in keeping them together.
The Males should be kept at least a couple of paddocks away from the girls and especially any maiden females.
Do you need to keep Alpacas indoors during the winter ?
Not at all, Alpacas are very robust animals and are quite happy to stay outside all year round.
The actually don't like being inside and even if you offer a shed for them to go into out of the rain, they will not use it.
How do you transport Alpacas ?
They will travel in the back of a ute, trailer or van.
They will even sit in the back of a station wagon. Once you start moving the Alpaca will sit down and stay seated during the whole journey.
A specially built trailer with a ramp is the ideal way to transport a few animals all at once.
Are there Vets who are interested in Alpacas ?
Yes there are but you may need to shop around to find a vet who is willing to learn all the new things that Alpacas will present him or her with.
There are now many young vets around the country who are very keen to become involved with these animals.
What are the veterinary costs associated with Alpacas?
Veterinary costs are remarkably low as there are no specific medical problems in these very hardy animals.
The births are usually trouble free and take place in daylight hours.
Are Alpacas prone to any diseases ?
The only serious problem in New Zealand is Facial Excema.
As Alpacas love the dead grass matter at the base of the pasture, where the facial Excema spores grow, they are susceptible to this disease.
Prevention is the answer here and you should spray your pasture during the danger period of January to March.
Is there a national organisation for Alpacas ?
Yes, it is called AANZ (Alpaca Association of New Zealand).
This is the national body that looks after all the requirements of all it's members.
If you are thinking about becoming involved in the Alpaca Industry then a good place to start is to join AANZ.
How can I make money out of Alpacas ?
There are many different ways :
- Proceeds from the sale of animals
- Proceeds from Breeding & Stud Services
- Proceeds from the sale of Fleece
- Proceeds from farm agistments and related services
- Proceeds from Alpaca related products
- Proceeds from processing dung into fertiliser
- Proceeds from shearing other breeders animals
- Proceeds from farm visits by schools & public open days