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Alpacas are animals domesticated in the high altitudes of South America thousands of years ago for their luxurious fleece. They are members of the camelid family, which also includes camels, llamas, vicunas and guanacos. Alpacas have been in the U.S. since 1984 and are being raised for their fleece as well as for the sale of their offspring. Alpacas are disease resistant easy keepers and are gentle on the land. People who have no former experience with livestock are successfully raising alpacas all over the U.S.
There are two types of alpacas - suri and huacaya. The fleece of the suri hangs in pencil locks, while huacaya fleece is more like sheep's fleece without the lanolin.
The life span of an alpaca is 20 to 25 years. Females can be bred when they weigh 95 pounds, which generally occurs between 14 and 18 months of age. Males usually begin breeding when they are two years old, although a six month variation in age is not uncommon. Females are induced ovulators, which means they can be bred year around. Following an 11 ½ month gestation, they give birth to a single cria that weighs between 15 and 22 pounds.
Adult alpacas usually weigh between 125 and 200 pounds and yield 5 to 8 pounds of fleece annually. Shearing is done in the spring to keep the alpaca comfortable during the summer months. Fleece grows 3 to 6 inches per year.
Alpacas come in 16 different colors ranging from white to black, beige to dark brown. The fleece is prized by spinners for its softness and is warmer and lighter weight than wool. People who are allergic to wool can often wear garments made of alpaca, which is as soft as cashmere.
Why raise alpacas?
Alpacas have gained steadily in popularity in the U. S. because of their investment potential and life-style advantages.
Alpacas are known as the world's finest livestock investment. This is because of their luxurious, quality fleece as well as the strong market for the sale of their offspring. Operating an alpaca farm as a business has the same tax advantages of other businesses. Farm buildings as well as the animals can be depreciated and expenses are usually deductible. A tax advisor who understands livestock and farming can explain the details that apply to an individual breeder's situation.
Alpacas can be insured for full mortality and theft for around 3.25% of the value, so an owner's investment can be protected to the extent desired.
The sale of fleece harvested from each year's shearing can cover much of the cost of maintaining an alpaca. Even greater profits may be realized if a breeder produces and sells products from the fiber. A national Alpaca Fiber Co-op was set up in 1998. The co-op provides an outlet for members' fiber and has also developed a wholesale line of garments, accessories and yarn in natural and dyed colors.
Raising alpacas has proven to be a very satisfying life-style for many. Alpacas are intelligent and are easy for children to handle because of their size and calm temperament. Raising alpacas is a business that can involve all members of a family. Unlike larger livestock, alpacas are easy on the land and a few acres is all that is needed. They thrive on low protein grass hay and need only annual vaccinations and occasional worm medicine. Alpacas prefer open shelters that protect them from the wind and rain in the winter and the hot sun in the summer. Elaborate barns are not needed.
We have transferred our teaching experience to our alpaca ranch and guest home where we offer potential breeders the opportunity to come for one or several days to learn about all aspects of the alpaca industry. Participants experience hands-on husbandry techniques using our herd. For more information about learning to raise and breed alpacas and operating an alpaca business or just come to our farm for a farm vacation, click here.
Alpacas, alpaca products, and alpaca services
Alpacas for sale: We have been breeding alpacas with care since 1994. Our selection of superior studs has produced award winning offspring, which we proudly present for sale. We offer discounted boarding and free delivery within the continental U.S. for alpacas purchased from our farm. All bred females are sold with a 14 day live birth guarantee that provides a free re-breeding to any Premier stud. Terms are available, and you may take delivery prior to payment in full if you insure the alpaca. Discounts are available for multiple purchases.
We believe the strength of the alpaca industry is in the networking that occurs among alpaca owners. We look forward to developing a lasting relationship with those who purchase a Premier alpaca. You can count on us treating you right with continued support. Please contact us if you would like references to folks who have used our services or purchased alpacas from us. Click here to see the alpacas we have for sale
Stud services: When you breed your dam to a Premier stud, there is no charge for 75 days' boarding. We provide a 14 day live birth guarantee which includes a re-breeding to a Premier stud. For your dam, we arrange for a pre-breeding exam and follow up ultrasounds to confirm pregnancy by Dr. Ahmed Tibary, camelid reproduction specialist at WSU. Click here to see more information on our studs.
Alpaca boarding, care and consulting services: We have 7 acres divided into 8 pastures with barn access from all of the pastures providing a good place for your alpacas to stay. We do all the feeding and monitoring ourselves and treat your animals as if they were our own. If you need to take your alpaca to the camelid program at Washington State University (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine for a reproductive evaluation, you can board the alpaca with us. We provide transportation to and from the WSU clinic. We also provide consulting services on the care and breeding of alpacas and the operation of an alpaca business for those just getting started.
Alpaca Products:Alpaca fiber is lighter weight and warmer than wool, and has no lanolin. If you are allergic to wool, you can probably wear alpaca. We have raw fleece, yarn, knitted hats, gloves, mittens, knitted and woven scarves, stoles, shawls, and teddy bears.
For more information about alpacas go to the following web sites:
Contact us at 509/229-3655 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org