Alpaca FAQs

Alpacas are not llamas.

While similar, alpacas and llamas are quite different in their heritage and size. Alpacas have been raised for thousands of years in Peru, Chile and Bolivia for their fine fiber. Llamas were raised for centuries in South America as beasts of burden. The average weight of an adult Alpaca is between 120-180 lbs, while llamas can weigh up to 450 lbs.

How big do alpacas grow and how long do they live for?

Adult alpacas grow to roughly 36" at the shoulder, weighing between 120-180 lbs. Their average lifespan is 15-25 years.

Are alpacas hard to take care of?

They are small and easy livestock to maintain. They eat grass, hay and are usually fed a cup of alpaca pellets once a day. Free choice minerals are recommended. They have fastidious bathroom habits, and choose a communal dung pile, making clean-up fast and easy. Alpacas need shade in the summer and an enclosed barn during the winter months in some states. Fresh water available at all times is a must.

How expensive are alpacas, and can I have just one?

There is a wide range of prices for alpacas, depending on what you are looking for. Some people prefer a few pets which they can obtain for roughly $1,000 to $2,000. Others want champion herdsires which can rage up to $600,000.

Alpacas are herd animals and should not be alone. A minimum of two is necessary and 5-6 alpacas per acre of land is ideal.

How often do you shear them? What do you do with the fiber?

Alpacas are sheared once a year, usually in May or June when the weather gets hot. Alpaca fiber can be sold to hand spinners, knitters, fiber cooperatives and made into farm store products.

I'm allergic to wool, can I wear Alpaca?

In most cases yes. Alpacas have a low micron count, which makes their fiber less prickly than wool. It has no lanolin which can hold dust and allergens. It has a hollow core that gives it incredible thermal properties, and allow it to breathe. Alpaca is comfortable in any season.

How many colors do alpacas come in?

Alpacas come naturally in 22 color variations: the spectrum includes white, fawn, brown, grey and black, with all the natural shades in between. Alpaca dyes beautifully and is available in a variety of dyed colors.

How many babies(crias) do they have a year and how big are they at birth?

One - with a gestation period of 11 to 11½ months. Twins are rare. Crias average weight is between 15 to 19 pounds. They stand and begin nursing 30 minutes after delivery.

How do you transport Alpacas?

Alpacas lay down at the start of travel, so they can be transported in the back of a van or trailer, depending on the amount.

What kind of fencing is needed to raise Alpacas?

Alpacas need to be protected from predators. Depending on where you live, this might call for a 5 foot, or electric fence.

Do Alpacas spit and bite?

No Alpacas do not bite. They do spit at each other when annoyed, but rarely on people. Some protective mothers will spit if they feel their baby is threatened.

Are Alpacas smart?

Yes, They are amazingly alert animals with great eyesight and will alert others when they feel threatened. They quickly learn to halter and lead. Some crias will even play tag with small children, which is a delight to watch.

What kind of medical care do Alpacas need?

Alpacas are generally hardy, but do require vaccines and wormers. After proper instruction, most breeders learn to clip toenails, and administer most medications by themselves.

Are Alpacas insurable?

Fully insurable, the cost being around 3.25%.

What else can you do with Alpacas beside using their fiber?

Alpacas make excellent companion animals, show animals, and with their loveable disposition, they are gentle enough to be handled by children. Some owners take them to agricultural events, nursing homes and even parades, where they are always a hit.

Who buys Alpacas?

Breeders come from many walks of life. Young couples with children might raise a few. Retired couples, who have raised their kids, sold their business and retired to the country are often owners. Several breeders are veterinarians who have found the ownership of alpacas to be more rewarding than practicing veterinary medicine. City dwellers who have discovered the option of boarding alpacas, thereby giving them an operational alpaca business while still retaining an urban career. The family whose members include a hand-spinner might own two or three for fiber production. A large number of breeders are working couples who tend to their herd in the evening after work. For all owners, alpacas offer a great way to diversify their financial portfolio with a commodity that is both rare and in demand worldwide.

Are there tax advantages to owning Alpacas?

Yes. As a breeder you can depreciate a male or female alpaca for breeding purposes over a five-year period. Furthermore, the first year that the capitol asset is acquired, there is a maximum of $18,500 which can be used as a business expense item. Income derived from the sale of capitol assets is usually taxed at a lower rate than that of income derived from other sources, such as regular earnings. Any expenses, which you incur such as veterinary care, feed bills, or any other costs associated with the raising of your alpacas are deductible. As an active breeder, there is also the ability to depreciate tangible property, such as barns, fences and breeding stock. Section 179 of the tax code currently allows for the deduction of a capital asset up to $100,000 in the first year the asset is acquired. Capital gains can be available on the sale of breeding animals and their offspring. You need to consult a tax advisor for specifics as they relate to you.

Why do WE raise Alpacas?


Jim and Penny Mullen | 223 Morris Town Line Road | Watertown, CT 06795 | Phone: 860-274-9001
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