TEN Tips to Extra Income with Alpacas – Part 2

In the last post I listed 5 possible ways that you could generate some revenue from your alpaca fiber whether you had a large herd or just a few fiber boys.

In this post, I will Open Aire Marketshare some additional ways to use your fiber and the manure.

6. Contribute a portion of your fiber yield to a Co-Op in exchange for ready made alpaca products to sell in your Boutique or at the “Markets.” If you don’t have a large quantity of fleece in your first few years, then find other alpaca breeders who wish to combine fiber to get a better return from the Co-Ops.

7. Set-up Open Houses at your place, or join in with other farms/ranches that hold them. Display and sell your alpaca items as you educate the public about the virtues of alpaca fiber.

8. Set up in-home parties and take your alpaca items to other people’s homes or offices. This works especially well around the holidays and in colder climates.

9. Set up an online virtual store through one of the major outlet websites. We use Amazon.com because they offer so many varieties of products to choose from. They also make it very easy to set up your virtual store. They pay an affiliate commission regularly.

10. Another idea that is unique to alpacas because of the nature of the way they digest their feed source. Invite local organic gardeners to pick up alpaca manure. They can either pay you in dollars or barter with the fruits of their labors.

Even with a small herd, you can accumulate enough manure to support several gardens. Our “Poop” is referred to as “Alpaca Gold!” We fill (using a tractor) several Pick-up trucks every month. In the beginning with less than a dozen alpacas, we used to shovel it in sand bags and sell it that way.

Some alpaca ranches make an alpaca tea “liquid soil amendment”. Be sure that you comply with any health regulations. Check your local area and agriculture extension for suggestions on what you can say or print and what would require special licenses.

I was advised not to call our bagged manure “fertilizer” or “compost” due to the local restrictions and regulations. Throughout the year we support the local nursery with the best “soil amendments” possible. Just think about what you could do in your area!

I hope that these 2 posts have given you food for thought about the potential for income with an alpaca business.

[Perhaps you have a special skill that could incorporate the use of alpaca fiber or manure to create some extra revenue for you. What an opportunity to share that with other alpaca enthusiasts as well. Please comment below and share your ideas on bringing in extra revenue.]

Julie & Don Roy own Alpacas of Anza Valley since 2004. They provide training, education and consulting to alpaca beginners, owners and breeders so that they become more successful, profitable and knowledgeable in the alpaca lifestyle. More than 50 alpacas call Alpacas of Anza Valley home at any one time. Come for a visit. Check out the website for more details. http://AlpacasAV.com

 

The Natural Alpaca Fiber Winners 2011

What a treat for the eyes and imagination! Take a look at the photos of the winners of this years Natural Fiber Showcase in the International Camelid Quarterly.

From over 150 entries and 7,000 votes by the general public, the winning entries in the Fashion, Art & Utility categories are featured. Each beautiful photo also includes an explanation by the artist of the techniques they used to create the product.

I got some good ideas of what I could do with some of my fiber… How about you?

Click the following link and enjoy the beautiful, creative items made with natural alpaca fiber.  Natural Fiber Product Showcase winners.

Ten Tips to Happy Alpacas

Alpacas can adapt to the heat of our summer days as long as they have cooler nights to recover. When nighttime temperatures stay in the upper eighties, this tends to create an accumulated effect and gives reason to take special precautions to avoid heat stress.

Alpacas Love Water

Another point to keep in mind pertains to high humidity when coupled with high temperatures. When you combine the temperature and the percentage of humidity you get a “heat index value.” A value over 120 degrees can be extremely stressful and gives grounds for taking additional safety measures.

For happy alpacas keep these ten tips in mind.

1)    Always shear your alpacas as a first line of defense in hot weather. We set up our shearing day with our shearer a year in advance and make a fun event out of the day. If you only have a few alpacas, then consider joining your herd with another established herd. Many alpaca farms set-up cooperative shearing days with other local farms.

2)    Always provide plenty of cool water to drink throughout the day. We put extra water buckets out along the fence line in the shade during the hottest months of the summer. Keep them full of fresh water and remove the algae which may grow in the buckets. If you use automatic waterers be sure to keep them free of accumulated “gunk!”

3)    Always provide a shady area for them to rest. Even though they may choose to lie in the full sun and “sunbathe” they will move into the shade to cool off part of the day. Keep some of their food source in the shade as well if you can.

4)    Provide a large industrialized fan & misters in the areas where they congregate when the temperatures rise. If you have a swamp cooler, you may notice how they cush right in front of the cool air source.

5)    Provide free choice mineral salts in small feeders around the hay source. We use Stillwater Minerals brand of the Lama-Min 104. This is specially formulated for alpacas. www.StillwaterMinerals.com

6)    Discuss with your vet or other breeders the type of electrolytes to add to their water source. We use a “Cherry” flavored powder that we add to every-other water bucket. That way they can self choose if they wish to drink it or not. Some people mix a Gatorade Powder with water to a strength of ¼ the recommended amount on the label. Be sure to mix a fresh batch every day as it spoils quickly.

7)    Do not breed your males in the heat of the day, they could become overheated and go temporarily sterile. If you choose to breed during the summer months, then breed early or later in the day.

8)    If you have new born cria, be sure to monitor the cria’s nursing behavior.  They can easily become dehydrated during the warmest part of the day. Observe how often they nurse and get underneath their mom. The rule of thumb is every hour to two is normal. Every half-hour is suspect for poor milk production and every 10 – 15 minutes means there is probably something wrong and you need to intervene to determine how serious. As the cria gets older, they will start to eat hay and may be nursing less often. Just observe the routine and check out anything that appears unusual.

9)    Provide extra hosing of their legs & bellies with cool water. My girls come running to my hose when I announce “Shower time Girls”… shower time!” Just keep the water accumulation off their backs where it could create an increased humid condition and raise their heat stress level.

10)    If you must transport or keep the alpacas in an enclosed area, be sure to provide air circulation. Some transporters run air conditioned units in the big trailers, others just have open windows.

So in conclusion, I hope these tips helped you think about the ways you can keep your alpacas comfortable during the hottest part of the summer day. Please feel free to share these tips with your fellow alpaca breeders. I also invite you to post your tips to the comment section of our:  www.ProfitingWithAlpacas.com

Here’s to you and your alpacas enjoying a wonderful summer.

Alpaca United Inaugural Meeting

Hi Alpaca Enthusiast!

I wanted to share some very exciting news with you about the alpaca industry.

Finally there is a consorted effort to recognize alpaca fiber as an economic opportunity for the public.  Alpaca United has been formed as a legal entity that is creating a brand for products made from USA raised alpacas. The CEO, Nick Hahn, who is famous for creating the brand for “Cotton” is at the helm of this “United” effort.

Here is an invitation for anyone who would like to learn more about this initiative first hand. I know that you will be hearing more about this group in the coming months. If you are a member of AOBA, you are probably receiving these emails. If you are not, then let me know that you would like to be on the list to get the latest information about the branding progress. We will make sure that you get the announcements first hand. There is an opportunity to become an investor, if you wish to get more involved. However; this email is not a solicitation… only sent for information.

Here are the particulars for your review.

ALPACA UNITED INAUGURAL MEETING

Friday May 20, 2011 7pm

Welcome to Alpaca United, the exciting new fiber company causing a “buzz” among breeders, processors and industry service providers from coast to coast!

Friday May 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM during the AOBA Nationals in Denver, CO you will have an opportunity to participate in the Inaugural Meeting where company officials will explain why, how, when and where Alpaca United is performing as the first ever industry-wide branding, marketing and research initiative dedicated to adding value to alpaca FIBER!

Chairman, Lee Liggett-NM; Visionary and Legal/Financial sub-committee Chairperson, Claudia Raessler-ME and CEO, Nick Hahn-CT will be on hand as well as several Alpaca United Steering Committee members to answer questions and conduct interviews.

Be there and be the first to be awed as we unveil the new mark, logo and tagline for Alpaca United, L3C.

Alpaca United is not about “us” or “you”, it is the national, for-profit, textile fiber company that unites “us;” all alpaca owners, growers, breeders, processors and enthusiasts, against “them,” those other fiber suppliers to the global textile industry. We know how good North American alpaca fiber is in all its colors, types and styles, isn’t it time the rest of the world knew?!

Developed by Design & Voice, a professional ad agency, Alpaca United will be readily associated with other luxury brands in the textile and garment industry. Part of our push to close the loop between alpaca fiber producers and alpaca fiber end users, our new mark will give the viewer the right impression and the right message the first time! The entire Steering Committee eagerly looks forward to sharing this excitement with you! The grand unveiling happens only at the Inaugural Meeting!

Everyone is welcome and invited to attend… it’s free. Advance registration is recommended but not required. If you wish to register… click here for the details

What Color is Your Alpaca?

Alpacas of Anza ValleyFor Alpaca Enthusiasts that are new to the business, would you like to know some of the lingo? I remember when I was new and I felt like breeders were speaking a different language. They kept using abbreviations and making assumptions that I understood what they meant. In the beginning I didn’t even know where to go to get a translation. This was especially evident when someone was describing an alpaca’s color. So here is a list of the 16 natural fiber colors represented by the Alpaca Registry (ARI) used on the ARI certificate that shows the pedigree of each registered alpaca. These colors are the standard abbreviations used for suris and huacayas, and when placing alpacas in all the show classes.

 

ARI Natural Fiber Colors & Chart Codes LSG Light Silver Grey
W White LB Light Brown MSG Medium Silver Grey
B Beige MB Medium Brown DSG Dark Silver Grey
LF Light Fawn DB Dark Brown LRG Light Rose Grey
MF Medium Fawn BB Bay Black MRG Medium Rose Grey
DF Dark Fawn TB True Black DRG Dark Rose Grey

Registration Tips

When you register your new alpaca make sure that you follow the guidelines that ARI provides for selecting the best color match. It is best to order a Color Chart from the ARI website: www.AlpacaRegistry.com. Here’s a quote from ARI on the way to use the color chart. “When identifying the color of an alpaca’s fleece, take a clip of fiber as close to the skin as possible. Match the cut end to the closest color on the fiber chart. If the color matches a shade, record this match. If you find the color is darker than one shade but lighter than the next, it should always be categorized with the darker shade.”

If your alpaca has more than one color present on the body, head or legs, there is a place on the registration for you to note that. When checking the color for the body, use the side in the midsection portion about 4 – 6 inches below the midline.

Color Checkers at a Show

Of course, for the show, the Color Checker will use the chart next to the skin with the fleece still attached. Sometimes the color checker will come up with a different color than the one on the ARI certificate. If you question that decision, you have an opportunity to be seen by a judge before they start the show. The judge will always have the final say. Just ask the checker when that will be done and arrange to have a neutral party take your alpaca to the judge.

Just thought that you’d like to know some of the insider info…

Alpaca Sock Brigade

Every year many of us alpaca breeders think about our alpacas and their connection to our troops in harms way. As we stay warm indoors celebrating the Holidays with our friends, family & other loved ones…. let’s remember those who are not so warm. They are the soldiers that are serving and freezing outdoors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What started as a simple request from a soldier in the fall of 2007 to his parents, Randy & Barbara Coleman, from Wings & A Prayer Alpacas, for a care package of warm alpaca socks for the cold winter months in Iraq, has turned into a major all out “SockBrigade”.

This year (2010) Lamb Chop and Sherry Lewis’s granddaughter Mallory have teamed up with the non profit organization, The BentStar Project LTD, to spread the word on the need for support to our troops. As Lamb Chop so eloquently puts it… “Help keep our soldier’s feetsies warm by donating to the SockBrigade!”

We love all these alpaca socks - Thanks America

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS:

Alpaca Sock Brigade!

By Barbara Coleman

“Got any special requests for your next care package?,” I asked. Who would have ever thought that a simple question to our son in Iraq would end up touching so many lives? This was the birth of what has come to be known as the “Alpaca Sock Brigade.”

Our son, Army Sergeant Micheal L. Coleman, stationed at Fort Lewis, WA had been in Iraq since June 26, 2006 and, specifically, in Baghdad since November. His request on that January day was very simple – alpaca socks! Since we began raising alpacas in 1998, Mike has known the value of a pair of alpaca socks in freezing temperatures. He is with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (abbreviated “5-20IR”), and they spend a lot of time on their feet, patrolling the streets of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

Couple nighttime temps of 20 degrees with wind-chill factor when riding in open vehicles, and Army-issue socks just “don’t cut it!” I should point out Mike didn’t just ask for alpaca socks for himself – not this kid; he’s always looking out for someone else! He said, “Everyone complains about his feet freezing all the time.” He asked if we could talk to some of our “alpaca friends” and see if they…. [MORE]

Please read the whole story published in the AOBA 2008 winter issue… 
To Donate, click here:  http://www.bentstarproject.org/SockBrigade.html

http://www.facebook.com/l/3634d;www.bentstarproject.org/SockBrigade.html

Alpacas Are Green!!

Thoughts from Cindy Harris of Alpacas at Windy Hill as shared in Aug. 2009  green alpaca

When I think of green and alpacas, it usually conjures up either some idyllic image of rolling pastures and lazy days under the shade tree, OR the less lovely thought of partially digested hay and rumen dripping down the side of my face for some unintentional offense I committed while in the vet barn.

HOWEVER……… this time I was pondering the many ways in which alpacas are ideally suited to living an Earth Friendly life. Honestly– it’s nothing to spit at!

Did you know, for instance, that alpacas don’t have to be slaughtered to have value in this country? Who ever heard of livestock that didn’t have to be slaughtered? But actually, especially during this time of growing our national herd, the longer an alpaca is around, the better! That’s an alpaca fleece every year, as well as a cria from every female that lives another year. We’d be cutting our noses off to spite our faces if we slaughtered them right now—we just don’t have enough alpacas!

Alpacas only have a small impact on Mother Earth. They are quiet, and consume far less food and water, pound for pound, than other common livestock breeds. They are modified ruminants, having 3 stomachs, and are very efficient users of their food! Their pellet-like manure makes perfect ph-balanced natural fertilizer. Even at Windy Hill, with 400 alpacas, people are amazed that they can’t smell anything but hay.

Alpacas are also kind to the ground they walk on. Being camelids, their feet consist of two soft oval pads and toenails rather than a hard hoof, so even in wet conditions pastures are not trampled and bogged. Alpacas have no upper incisor teeth, although they do have efficient grinders in the back. Because they cut grass and hay with their bottom incisors against a hard palate, they make sure that pastures will last longer and grow better.

Clothes made from the prime alpaca fleece are mostly hypoallergenic because there’s no lanolin and the yarn is very smooth and soft. We can use ALL the grades of alpaca fleece. Even the coarser grades of fleece, usually from the legs, belly, and neck, are great for coats, socks, blankets, rugs, and upholstery. Scraps from the shearing room floor can be used to insulate outdoor pipes and make composting!

Alpacas are THE environmentally friendly livestock! Alpaca fleece surpasses all the synthetics, and sheep’s wool, too. It’s:

Sustainable—there is an ever-growing American herd on the horizon

Natural—not synthetic and absolutely biodegradable

Renewable—every year there is a fresh and growing supply of alpaca fleece

Durable—archeologists have found intact remains of Incan alpaca textiles

Organic—there is no need for the use of chemicals in raising alpacas or processing their fleece

Recyclable—many an alpaca baby blanket has been handed down through generations of children, its final destination the compost heap to help grow new pasture for the next generation of alpacas!

Alpacas are really the Livestock of the 21st Century!

If you have a thought about this blog… please share. Cindy and I will be happy to receive your comments.