How much does it cost to raise alpacas?
After months of researching on the in’s and out’s of raising alpacas it’s getting close for us to add a few to our homestead. Besides them being just adorable they have to serve a purpose. All of the animals on our farm are for food production, but alpacas will earn their keep by providing us fiber for spinning and yarn production.
We live on 21 acres and have plenty of room to pasture animals, so it is important that we find animals that graze well and take little financial commitment on our end. Now don’t get me wrong, it will cost us a good bit to get started with alpacas but the overall feed cost will be little since they are grazers. We will not be raising alpacas for show or to breed, so the cost of purchasing them will be low. We are planning to buy three young males from a well-established Alpaca Farm in North Carolina.
As with anything here on the homestead, it has taken us months to plan for this addition, and we are still working on getting things set up for their arrival. I learn best by talking to others and reading as much as I can. I have been studying this book Llamas & Alpacas by Hobby Farms for weeks.
Here is the check list we used while planning for our alpacas:
- Determine breed –We knew from the very beginning we wanted alpacas for fiber so determining what breed we wanted was easy. We choose Huacaya Alpacas since their fleece is plush and crimped. Their fiber is perfect for making yarn and is similar to the angora fiber I use now.
- Find a reputable alpaca farm – After talking and visiting a few farms we choose a breeder that we felt raised the type of animal we wanted. We have grandchildren and wanted animals that would adapt to having children around them. The three alpacas we bought are good with children and are still young enough that they can grow up on our farm and get to know us and our family comfortably.
Cost: $1000 for three young gelded male fiber alpacas.
- Feeding – Our alpacas will mostly graze on rotating pastures. They love timothy, fescue, and alfalfa and will be rotated between two pastures every six months so we can always be improving one pasture while they are grazing in the other. We will also be supplementing their grazing with concentrates such as grains and commercial feeds. During the colder months, we will add hay to their diet. Alpacas require lots of fresh, clean water so it was important for us to build their shelter close to our water source.
Cost: Approx. $100 a month feed and hay
- Housing – One of the reasons we choose to add alpacas was their ease of housing. All they need is a dry place to sleep and a place to find shelter from the weather. We are building a three-sided structure 40′ x 20′ that is plenty big enough to house three adult males. One thing that attracted us to this animal is being able to use their droppings as fertilizer in the garden. They use communal dung piles which make for easy clean-up. Packed dirt floors work best, and that in itself keeps the cost of building shelter reasonable.
Cost: One-time construction cost $800
- Fencing – This was our biggest expense since we wanted to have two rotating pastures. We installed woven wire fencing, 52″ inches tall with 4-inch square openings on about 2 acres. We used 7 1/2′ cedar fence posts spaced 12 feet apart. We also added a 10′ gate on each pasture, with the shelter positioned so it could have access to both pastures.
Cost: One-time fencing supplies $1500
- Health – We did a lot of research on keeping alpacas healthy and what preventative things we could do to keep vet visits at bay. We will be vaccinating for enterotoxemia and tetanus regularly and setting up a dewormer program. It is important to keep their shelter and pasture free from harmful items such as wire, nails, and hornets’ nests. We have also taken extra precautions in making sure our fence is predator proof…one of the main reasons we choose woven wire fencing. Alpacas require their toenails trimmed, and teeth filed down regularly.
Cost: Approx. $200 a year for preventative medicine. (Does not include vet visits)
- Shearing – The main reason alpacas are coming to our farm is for their fiber, so shearing was something we looked good and hard at. We are planning to shear ourselves to keep the cost down but will need to invest in good shearing equipment. Alpacas are sheared once a year in the spring.
Cost: Shearing Clippers $100
Our homesteading adventures are always a learn as we go process, but we are looking forward to adding alpacas to our farm.
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