TEN Tips to Extra Income with Alpacas – Part 1

Kommander show blanket & fleece still on legs 5-11 pt1Alpacas need to be shorn in the spring before the weather and humidity become intense. The shearing process is not only healthy for your alpacas; it is a source of revenue for your business. If you prepare ahead of time and work with your shearer, you can get maximum return on your alpacas’ fleece.

In this photo you can see that we laid an extra large piece of plastic along side the alpaca’s body so that we could collect the blanket portion in one piece. We did this first before we sheared any other part of his body.

This post explores numerous ideas to make some income while you’re letting your herd grow. Your goal should be to achieve some extra revenue whether you have a small fiber herd or you are starting a breeding business.

Below you will find a list of a few possibilities:

1. Locate a local spinning guild and invite them to shearing day to help and purchase raw fiber.

2. Offer hand spinners the first choice of the raw fiber once it is bagged.

3. Locate local fiber artists and invite them to the ranch to feel your fiber. Show them the different grades of fiber and introduce them to creative ideas of how to use alpaca fiber in crafts projects.

4. Send some of your best fleece to mini-mills and have it converted into beautiful yarn. Introduce your yarn at “Farmer’s Markets”, Craft Faires & Country Festivals.

5. Knit, crochet, felt or weave accessories out of alpaca yarn and start a small farm/ranch Boutique, or take them to the “Markets” & “Faires.”

Here’s a link to our web store. We have it linked through our Ranch Home Page: http://alpacasav.com/alpaca-boutique/

[Side note: Even though I live in a warm & sunny climate, I’m still successful selling my yarn and hand made items at local Faires & Open Aire Markets especially from September through April. The rest of the year I devote to making more items to sell.]

So, with a modest initial investment, you could easily bring in several thousand dollars during the eight months of the year that you are promoting your alpaca items.

It’s a good plan to spend the other months creating items to sell. Or fix up your place so that you can invite the public to see your alpacas and take tours.

These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking about the potential for your situation. In the next post I will continue to explore other possible ways to bring in revenue with your alpaca business.

Julie

PS: Do you have an idea that you would like to share? Please post your comments below.

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

 

Alpacas for Fun and Profit

After watching the show on March 25th entitled Alpacas for Fun and Profit on CBS SUNDAY MORNING – http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7403164n I realized how much I related to the story of Amber and her alpaca lifestyle. She got into the business just before the prices started dropping (fall 2007.) So instead of panicking, she took advantage of the high quality alpacas available at lower prices and grew her herd and her income potential. As she recounts, her income over a 5 month period was greater than she had made the 2 years previously in the theater.

In 2009 our situation turned to “creative solutions needed” in order to keep our business growing. We started promoting “multiple services” from our ranch. We offered agisting (board & care), breeding and birthing services. We got a main stud and started filling his dance card with introductory breedings which have now grown in number, demand and dollar amount per breeding. We also increased our internet presence and educational products offered.

Another income focus we started is to proudly display, retail and wear alpaca accessories made from our own alpacas. Visitors to our farm love the idea they can take a photo of the alpaca which contributed the fiber made into the luxurious scarf or hat. And we are not alone, as word is spreading; more small alpaca farms are setting up “cottage industry” outlets and reaping the benefits of raising this gentle livestock.

So, whether you are looking for a business with numerous tax benefits, agricultural savings for your land use, an outlet for your creativity, or just pure enjoyment… alpaca farming could be in your near future.

If you are already a part of our industry, then take this opportunity to review your situation and make sure you are taking advantage of all the alpaca farming deductions you are legitimately entitled to at this time. Then go out in your field and smile at your alpacas.

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

Happy Alpaca Valentine’s Day

WOW! What a response to our Happy Alpaca Valentine’s Day video! By popular demand we’ve decided to make it available again…

One of the many things I love about this incredible business is the expressions of joy on the faces of people when they interact with the alpacas. We open our ranch to visitors quite often. When families bring their kids (of all ages) we like to have the camera near-by. So that the kids get to see themselves enjoying the alpacas. Don and I chose to create a photo collage video of a few of the cute moments of “love with the alpacas.”

We created this video for all to enjoy throughout the year. So if you are an animal lover of any sort… we dedicate this to you. If you can’t physically be with your four-legged friends, than perhaps this short video will put a smile on your face.

Click on the video to play and be sure that you have your speakers turned up too.

Feel free to share this site with your friends. And if you are an alpaca enthusiast feel free to post your comments. We’d love to read what you think.

Sending you lots of Hugs & Humms not just for this month of “LOVE”, but all year long!

Julie & Don Roy

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

Now is the best time…

Now is the best time to build or rebuild
an alpaca livestock business!

My friend and successful alpaca breeder, Jim Patrick of Denton Texas, wrote some very insightful information about the future of the alpaca industry recently. When he did… I took notice. Why? Because when he speaks… people listen and for very good reasons!  He has a background in Economics and Sociology and has been featured as a “futurist” in our alpaca community. Here is an excerpt he wrote on the status of the alpaca industry as of Nov 22, 2010.

“As a trend prognosticator and founder of ‘think tanks’ for over 25 years, I am here to share with you that our economy may be morphing into a new and exciting form. People worldwide are looking anew towards a simpler, less stressful life that is filled with natures’ basics. This means basic homes, with high energy heating / cooling systems and earth friendly power generation equipment. The rise of the family farm is upon us with many taking flight to ‘ranchburbia or farmville’ where the air is clean, things are smaller and simpler, and where robust gardens are the norm…times are a changing!

A land is just over the time horizon where wind turbines glow green, kids are home schooled or attend small community schools and virtual offices of man and woman caves are plentiful.  

Yes, changing times are upon us and we, the alpaca livestock industry, are excitingly part of this metamorphosis that is forming the second decade of the 21st Century and beyond. As I have said in countless interviews and speeches, being able to take advantage of the early signs of emerging trends can make a world of difference.

So why alpacas and where do they fit in the new economic and social matrix?

Alpacas are easy to maintain, fit all lifestyles, are odorless, cute, safe and friendly to all ages and they perfectly address the changing paradigm.  

ALPACAS ARE GREEN FRIENDLY… ALPACAS PRODUCE A FLEECE LIKE NO OTHER that is light weight, durable, very warm, hypoallergenic and their end products are gorgeously durable, ultra warm that dare the cold to touch your skin. It is the best of times to expand or enter into the alpaca livestock business!!!!

Alpacas give the investor a special ROI in the form of breeding new animals, producing special products from the fleece and the potential to garner new tax benefits.

Alpacas are easily handled by all ages without fear of intimidation or bodily injury. Owning cattle, equine, sheep, goats or other traditional forms of livestock carry a magnitude of more care and maintenance that greatly decreases their potential return on investment (ROI.) Alpacas can be maintained with less infrastructure and daily care….and their ‘poop’ has very little smell as a bonus and makes a great soil supplement that makes things grow organically!

The alpaca livestock business is not just about the cute and kind nature of these precious animals; it includes investment potential that can provide a nice ROI. Like any other investment, alpacas can carry risks and there are no guarantees, but, alpaca prices have never been lower largely due to the current pause in the economy; however, this is not going to be the case forever. 

So what is the best size alpaca business for you to expand or build to? Well, that depends on your life style, demographic foot print and willingness to take a risk.  

While some alpaca businesses are large… most are small, family owned operations of fewer than 20 head of alpacas with a ‘hands on approach’ being the norm.   

So, now is the best time to either get into the alpaca livestock business, or to enhance the genetic qualities of your current herd leading to an improved ROI. Waiting for our economy to ‘get better’ only will increase your costs and reduce your potential ROI. The times, they are a changing and now is the time to get on board the train to the future with alpacas!”

Jim’s other views are captured on CD # 7 of the http://www.AlpacaBusinessSecrets.com.
 
If you’re ready for alpacas, check out http://BuyingAlpacasMadeSimple.com.

Here’s to your successful alpaca venture, Julie

 

What do you get for $675,000? Answer: Alpaca

This is no April Fool’s… the alpaca industry is alive and well. The sale of one very special alpaca stud for $675,000 is only the beginning!

At the end of February, a very important event took place… The Snowmass Auction in Phoenix AZ. Most of us breeders use this event as a barometer about the price of alpacas for the year ahead. Based on the results of this event, the future looks bright, solid and prices are coming back up.

Two years ago, February 2008, the auction sales price for quality alpacas was the lowest in our industries history. There wasn’t even a Snowmass auction in 2009. However, 2010 is a very different story.

One of the reasons… in their own words: “Double “O” Good Alpacas is thrilled to announce that we are the proud new owners of Snowmass Matrix! We purchased Matrix at the Snowmass Making of Champions-Genetic Advancement Sale on February 27, 2010 for a record-setting price of $675,000, the highest selling alpaca at an auction!”

As I listened in to the live auction over the computer, I noticed that several farms bid quite high for this amazing stud. As the bids went over the half a million dollar mark, the energy got franetic! Gasps were heard and the auctioneer could hardly keep up with the increase of the bids. The serious bidding farms just kept the prices going up and up. Finally it was all over and it seemed unbelievable to realize that the final bid was $675,000!… however, Double “O” Good Alpacas feels that his worth is “PRICELESS!”

The future looks bright not only for prepotent MATRIX, but for our whole alpaca industry.

Next time I’ll comment on the high prices paid for some of the alpaca females sold at the auction.

Do you have an opinion on the results of the Snowmass Auction of 2010?

Julie

 

PHOTO:
Holding the newly acquired MATRIX, are the proud new owners, Ernie and Barbara Kellogg from VA standing next to the sellers, Julie & Don Skinner of Snowmass Alpacas.

Alpaca Starter Packages

If you answer YES to any of these questions then you might be interested in the concept of alpaca starter packages.

Have you wanted to start an alpaca herd or expand your present one?
Have you thought that the average prices for good quality pregnant females were just too high for you?
Have you talked about your dream to others only to have it disintegrate before it got started?

Benefits of Starter Packages:Pacas at the Poo Pile

  • Multiple alpacas for a single reduced price
  • A variety of bloodlines and colors to grow your herd
  • A variety of age and experience levels of females
  • Sometimes the seller will include a complimentary male companion, or one at a very low price
  • Depending on the circumstances, the seller may take financing and boarding as part of the arrangement

Basically a breeder puts together two or more females at a discounted price if you buy them all. The combination gives you a variety to start or expand your herd. You could get an experienced dam along with a maiden, or possibly two or more different colors or bloodlines. Often due to the circumstances you are able to purchase multiple alpacas at a price equivalent to a single alpaca.

Five years ago we started our herd with 4 pregnant females. We chose to take advantage of starter packages of quality females at reduced prices from two experienced breeders. Their herd reduction became our gain. Our decision enabled us to get a head start on building our herd with experienced pregnant dams that were expecting within six months. One of the pregnant females came with a female cria at side. So our single price purchase was really a 3 in 1. I strongly believe that a start-up breeder benefits from purchasing experienced dams along with maidens. If you have never birthed a cria – the experienced dams will teach you. And that creates peace of mind like you wouldn’t believe.

Alpacas4Less.com selects good quality alpacas that are owned by breeders who find themselves in the need of downsizing for a variety of reasons. After I personally interview them about their herd history, breeding and birthing experience, the seller and I come to an agreement on the best price for the animals. We then put a group together to create a starter package and offer them to you, our preferred clients. The price to you represents a recent reduction of at least 40% off or more. Generally speaking this is less than the breeder sells them to their own clients.

If you are looking for a way to grow YOUR herd. I highly recommend looking into starter packages.

Julie