Alpaca care can be pleasant, fun and lucrative. With their easy care needs and gentle personalities, these small, fleece producing members of the camel family can be the perfect livestock choice for an animal-loving hobby farmer. In this article, we share solid advice on how to start an alpaca farm. Read on to learn more on what do you need to start an alpaca farm.
What You'll Learn Today
- 18 Smart Steps To Help You Get Your Alpaca Farm Started
- 1. Get to know alpacas
- 2. Get familiar with the best alpaca pedigrees
- 3. Make sure you can have alpacas
- 4. Consult with your accountant about farm tax deductions
- 5. Devise a solid business plan
- 6. Give your farm a name
- 7. Register your farm name
- 8. Establish a federal tax ID or employee identification number (EIN)
- 9. Contact your local authorities to get a sales tax license
- 10. Contact your insurance agent
- 11. Get everything ready
- 12. Stock your feed room
- 14. Locate a good veterinarian
- 15. Determine who will shear your alpacas
- 16. Go alpaca shopping
- 17. Become a member of the AOA
- 18. Be sure that you have all the right business permits
- Frequently Asked Questions
18 Smart Steps To Help You Get Your Alpaca Farm Started
1. Get to know alpacas
Look around your local area and find the nearest alpaca farms. Call ahead and make an appointment to visit, get acquainted and see what it’s like to live the life of an alpaca farmer.
You can pick up a lot of commonsense knowledge with these friendly visits. You can also determine whether or not you would really like to deal with alpacas day in and day out for a living.
2. Get familiar with the best alpaca pedigrees
You can do this by attending several alpaca shows. This is a good way to learn how to judge the quality of an alpaca and how to know which animals are better.
At an alpaca show, you can watch the judges and hear what they have to say and gain an understanding of what qualities you need to look for in a pedigreed, breeding alpaca. You can visit with the breeders, discuss their stock and get to know alpacas face-to-face.
3. Make sure you can have alpacas
Check with your local authorities to be sure that regulations and zoning laws will allow you to have alpacas. Even though they seem pet-like, alpacas are actually considered to be livestock.
To keep them, you’ll need to live in an area that has agricultural zoning. With this type of zoning, you’ll be able to erect the outbuildings and fencing you’ll need to keep your critters safe, healthy and happy.
4. Consult with your accountant about farm tax deductions
If you’re going to farm alpacas seriously, you’ll need to take advantage of all of the deductions available to you. Make certain that your current accountant is knowledgeable when it comes to farm accounting.
5. Devise a solid business plan
If you’re going to farm alpacas professionally, you need to take the time to lay out your goals and objectives, determine your target market and create a marketing plan.
You’ll need to set all of this to a timeline and review it on a regular basis, making adjustments as needed. Here are few tips on how to make money with alpacas.
6. Give your farm a name
In order to be able to deduct your farm expenses, you’ll need to have an official farm/business name. Check with your state government offices to be sure that the name you have in mind has not already been taken.
7. Register your farm name
Register your farm name with your state by forming a farm Limited Liability Company (LLC). Do this by submitting articles of organization to your state.
Consult a lawyer to determine whether these are steps that you can take yourself. You may need to hire a third party (attorney) to act as a registered agent.
8. Establish a federal tax ID or employee identification number (EIN)
This is necessary for obtaining your business bank account and for filing your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service. You’ll also need it to get business permits and various licenses. Obtaining an EIN is free. Contact the IRS to get the process started.
Rules, regulations and rates surrounding this vary from locality to locality.
10. Contact your insurance agent
You’ll want to have good insurance coverage for your livestock and your property. You’ll especially need comprehensive liability insurance. Talk with your agent about standalone policies and about riders which may be economically added to the homeowners’ policy you already have.
11. Get everything ready
Before you ever purchase a single alpaca, get your pasture well fenced and build a three sided shelter or a barn. Be certain that you have good, secure storage for hay and grain and that you are able to provide plenty of fresh clean water every day.
12. Stock your feed room
- Feed & Hay
- Water Troughs
- First-Aid Kit
- Alpaca Halters
- Lead Ropes
- Feed Bins
- Grooming Tools
14. Locate a good veterinarian
Find a vet who actually has experience with alpacas or llamas. Large animal experience and/or livestock experience is not the same as alpaca experience. Talk with your local county extension agent for assistance in finding a good vet.
Alternately, or additionally get referrals from the alpaca breeders with whom you have become acquainted.
15. Determine who will shear your alpacas
If you’re planning to do it yourself, you’ll need to learn how well in advance of having alpacas. If you’re planning to hire someone to do it, you’ll need to locate them and make arrangements long before your first springtime.
16. Go alpaca shopping
Since you’ve already visited several alpaca breeders and gone to a few shows, you should have a good list of possibilities now that you’re ready to buy your stock.
Follow through on these leads and be sure to purchase stock that has been consistently handled and well-cared-for, provided ample, proper feed and given the vet care necessary to keep them healthy and happy.
17. Become a member of the AOA
AOA is the American Alpaca Association/Alpaca Owners Association. If you are buying registered stock, as you should, your animals are probably already registered with this association. You’ll want to transfer the registration from the name of the previous owner to your name.
18. Be sure that you have all the right business permits
Check with your local authorities to see what permits you need for the services and products you intend to provide.
For example, if you are simply selling fleece and/or livestock, you may not need a business permit. If you decide that you want to sell manure as fertilizer, you’re very likely to need a business permit. Make certain that you have everything covered.
How To Start An Alpaca Farm
Frequently Asked Questions
There are at least half a dozen ways to make money with alpacas. You can sell the fleece and meat. You can sell the babies as show animals or breeding animals. You can also sell young animals that are not show or breeding quality as sheep guards or as pets. If you have a handsome male alpaca, you can advertise him as available and charge breeding fees!
You can seek out information online, read books, join alpaca associations, watch YouTube videos and so on; however, the best thing to do is find a mentor. Befriend a successful alpaca farmer. Offer to help out. Learn by doing. This will greatly reduce the number of surprises that may confront you once you set out on your own.
When considering land, pens and buildings for alpaca care, keep in mind that you will need to keep breeding age males and females apart, so you’ll need two pens for keeping youngsters separated. If you plan to have herds consisting of one herd sire with several (up to ten) females, you’ll need a pen for each herd and space around to keep the male from wasting all his time challenging all-comers.
Alpacas usually respect fencing, but it must be good fencing that is well maintained. You can use board fencing or wire fencing, but no matter what, it should not have openings larger than four inches. Larger openings can result in an animal getting its head stuck. The fence should be four or five feet high, and it should fit securely against the ground to prevent youngsters from slipping out. Any fence you install should be strong enough, high enough and secure enough to keep out local predators.
When you are just starting out, you are better off investing in female alpacas. You can always have your females bred and then sell the offspring, as well as the females’ fleece, to raise money to purchase your own male (if you wish). Generally speaking, females are easier to deal with and more profitable than males.