2022/2023 Alpaca Owners Guide

Photo courtesy of Tuckahoe Treasures Alpaca Farm

are encouraged to prepare for cria births by reading about the process and having needed supplies on hand. Q: How long do alpacas live? A: Generally, around 15 to 20 years. The longest documented lifespan of an alpaca is over 28 years. Q: Are alpacas an “exotic species,” or are they considered simply “livestock?” A: Alpacas have been raised as domestic livestock for thousands of years and since the end-product of alpacas is their fleece, like sheep, they are classified as livestock by both the United States and Canadian federal governments. Q: So what do you DO with these animals? A: Alpacas are raised for their soft and luxurious fleece (fiber). Each shearing produces roughly five to ten pounds of fleece per animal, per year. This fleece, often compared to cashmere, can be turned into a wide array of products from yarn and apparel to tapestries and blankets. The fleece itself is recognized globally for its fineness, softness, light-weight, durability, excellent thermal qualities, and luster. There are a number of business models that alpaca farmers have developed: • Breeding and selling seedstock: This requires excellent genetics and sound breeding programs that will result

in breeding quality animals that can then be sold to new and existing alpaca farms. • Fiber-focused breeding programs: This model focuses on breeding and raising alpacas that can produce high quality fleece that can then be sold or processed into end product. • Artisans: Some alpaca farmers use the fleece to produce products by hand, through spinning, weaving, or knitting. They may sell this work either on their farm, in retail stores, or online. • Agritourism: Various forms of agritourism have been successful for alpaca farmers, including overnight stays, day trips and tours, and special event venues. Most include an educational component to teach visitors about alpacas, their fiber, and potential for alpaca farming. Alpaca owners are encouraged to develop a business plan and revise it regularly. Q: What is the long termoutlook for themarket for alpaca fleece? A: Alpaca fiber is valued worldwide as a luxury fiber. This fiber is converted into clothing and accessories that consumers equate with superior quality. Combine this with a well defined marketing program for all aspects of the alpaca industry, and you get a stable and robust industry. 

ALPACA OWNERS GUIDE 2022/2023 | 21

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