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.

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.

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

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

 

Alpacas in Small Spaces…

 Alpacas in Small Spaces – Are They Too Crowded?
In this photo, you can see that all are eating together peacefully... for a short time.

In this photo, you can see that all are eating together peacefully... for a short time.

As I write this we are experiencing the 4th consistent day of rain and preparing for SNOW. This fact alone may not be newsworthy; however, we live in southern California! What I’m observing with my alpaca females applies whether you live in moderate or extreme climatic regions. It applies whether you raise your alpacas on pasture or in a dry lot environment. At times you may have to change their eating conditions, make other arrangements and possibly crowd them in for a short time. Now the question is: how do you know if they are too crowded?

The simple answer… I listen! That’s right; I observe and listen from a distance to figure that out. What I’ve observed boils down to … if they’re crowded they’ll do a lot of quibbling, a lot of spitting and posturing over who’s going to get to the feeder first and stake their claim. 

I count on enough space so that every single alpaca can be at the feeders all at once, without feeling crowded.  Best advise – just keep adding feeders, creating multiple feeding stations until you achieve that. And when the rains came and they all wanted to be inside at once… that’s what we chose to do. Normally these 12 wander among 3-4 other feeding stations… and they come and go at their will.

If you find yourself questioning the crowding issue in small spaces, then just spread out the feeders so that every alpaca could eat all they want simultaneously. You might consider creating special feeding areas for the cria – if they get squeezed out from the adults. Alpacas are extremely adaptable and that is why they make a great livestock business. You can start out small and expand as your needs arise. Your alpacas will let you know if they have outgrown the feeding arrangements!

 

Tax Consequences of Owning Alpacas

When we decided to get into the alpaca industry (Oct 2004), the benefits of two factors really stood out. First the gentle nature of the lifestyle appealed to us and second the favorable tax consequences sealed the deal. My initial research took me to several publications about the financial aspects of alpaca ownership. In this Advanced Alpaca Newsletter article I focus on a portion of the January 2007 publication from the Alpaca Owner and Breeders Association (AOBA) entitled Financial Aspects of Alpaca Ownership.

The answers to some of the most asked questions about alpaca ownership follow:

Tax Consequences of Owning Alpacas

Those considering entering the alpaca industry should engage an accountant for advice in setting up your books and determining the proper use of the concepts discussed in this article. A very helpful IRS publication, #225, entitled The Farmer’s Tax Guide, can be obtained from your local IRS office. The goal of this discussion of IRS rules is to provide the guidelines for discussion with your accountants and financial advisors so that you can be more conversant in the issues of taxation as they relate to raising alpacas.

Raising alpacas at your own ranch, in the hands-on fashion, can offer the rancher some very attractive tax advantages. If alpacas are actively raised for profit, all the expenses attributable to the endeavor can be written off against your income. Expenses would include feed, fertilizer, veterinarian care, etc., but also the depreciation of such tangible property as breeding stock, barns, and fences. These expenses can also help shelter current cash flow from tax.

The less active owner using the agisted ownership (boarding) approach may not enjoy all of the tax benefits discussed here but many of the advantages apply. For instance, the passive alpaca owner can depreciate breeding stock and expense the direct cost of maintaining the animals. The main difference between a hands-on or active rancher and a passive owner involves the passive owner’s ability to deduct losses against other income. The passive investor may only be able to deduct losses from investment against gain from the sale of animals and fleece. The active rancher can take the losses against other income.

Alpaca breeding allows for tax-deferred wealth building. An owner can purchase several alpacas and then allow the herd to grow over time without paying income tax on its increased size and value until he or she decides to sell an animal or sell the entire herd.

To qualify for the most favorable tax treatment as a rancher, you must establish that you are in business to make a profit and you are actively involved in you business. You cannot raise alpacas as a hobby rancher or passive investor and receive the same tax benefits as an active, hands-on, for-profit rancher. A ranching operation is presumed to be for-profit if it has reported a profit in three of the last five tax years, including the current year

If you fail the three years of profit test, you may still qualify as a “for-profit” enterprise if your intention is to be profitable. Some of the factors considered when assessing your intent are:

– You operate your ranch in a businesslike manner.
– The time and effort you spend on ranching indicates you intend to make it profitable.
– You depend on income from ranching for your livelihood.
– Your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control or are normal in the start-up phase of ranching.
– You change your methods of operation in an attempt to improve profitability.
– You make a profit from ranching in some years and how much profit you make.
– You or your advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the ranching activity as a
successful business.
– You made a profit in similar activities in the past.
– You are not carrying on the ranching activity for personal pleasure or recreation.

You don’t have to qualify on each of these factors – the cumulative picture drawn by your answers will provide the determination. Once you’ve established that you are ranching alpacas with the intent to make a profit, you can deduct all qualifying expenses from your gross income.

If you are a passive investor, you are still allowed the tax benefits discussed below. The issue is whether you will be able to take the losses on a current basis. All the losses can be taken against profits or upon final disposition of the herd. The discussion from here forward presumes you are a cash basis taxpayer and you keep good records. Accrual basis taxpayers would also be allowed the same tax treatment, but their timing might be different.

First, the following items must be included in both a passive owner’s and a full time rancher’s gross income calculation:

* Income from the sale of livestock
* Income from sale of crops, i.e. fiber
* Rents
* Agriculture program payments
* Income from cooperatives
* Cancellation of debts
* Income from other sources, such as services
* Breeding fees

The following expenses may be deducted from this income. Please note, if you are agisting your animals, not all of these deductions may apply on a current basis:

* Vehicle mileage for all ranch business (IRS publishes current rate)
* Fees for the preparation of your income tax return ranch schedule
* Livestock feed
* Labor hired to run and maintain your ranch
* Ranch repairs and maintenance
* Interest
* Breeding fees
* Fertilizer
* Taxes and insurance
* Rent and lease costs
* Depreciation on animals used for breeding
* Depreciation of real property improvements such as barns and equipment
* Ranch or investment-related travel expenses
* Educational expenses, which improve your ranching or investment expertise
* Advertising
* Attorney fees
* Ranch fuel and oil
* Ranch publications
* AOBA (breed association) dues
* Miscellaneous chemicals, i.e., weed killer
* Veterinarian care
* Small tools
* Agistment fees

Please note: For hands-on ranchers, personal and business expenses must be allocated between ranch use and personal use; only the ranch use portion can be expensed for such expenses as a telephone, utilities, property taxes, accounting, etc.

Once active alpaca ranchers have determined their net income or loss, it is included on their tax return as an addition to or a deduction from their ordinary income. Losses can be carried back for three years and forward for 15 years. To deduct any loss, you must be at risk for an amount equal to or exceeding the losses claimed. The “at risk” rules mean that the deductible loss from an activity is limited to the amount you have at risk in the activity. You are generally at risk for:

– The amount of money you contribute to an activity
– The amount you borrow for use in the activity

The passive owner’s losses that are in excess of current income can be carried forward and taken against future income. In other words, the passive owner does not lose the deductibility of expenses, but the timing of the losses may be different.

All taxpayers must establish the cost basis of their assets for tax purposes. This basis is used to determine the gain or loss on sale of an asset and to figure depreciation. In determining basis, you must follow the uniform capitalization rules found in the IRS code. Animals raised for sale are generally exempt from the uniform capitalization rules, and there are other exceptions for certain ranch property. You need to become familiar with these rules.

Once you’ve established the cost basis of your various assets, you take a deduction for depreciation against your annual income. This process allows you to expense the historic cost of an asset to offset present income. The effect is to create non-taxable cash flow on a current basis. This benefit is especially attractive in an environment of higher taxes.

Alpacas in which you have cost basis can be written off over five, seven, or ten years if they are being held as breeding stock. There are several methods of writing them off, beginning with the straight-line method, which allows you to deduct one-fifth of their cost each year, except the first year, in which the code allows for only six months of write-off. There are also several accelerated schedules that allow for a larger percentage of the asset to be written off early. Alpaca babies produced by your females have no cost basis and cannot be written off, although they may qualify for capital gain treatment on sale.

Capital improvements to the active or hands-on alpaca breeder’s ranch can also be written off against income. Barns, fences, pond construction, driveways, and parking lots can be expensed over their useful life. Equipment such as tractors, pickups, trailer, and scales each have an appropriate schedule for write-off. The depreciation schedule for each asset class varies from three years to 40 years.

There is also a direct write-off (expense) method known as Section 179 that allows a substantial deduction each tax year for newly acquired items that are normally long-term depreciable assets. While this is subject to several limitations, it is widely utilized by small ranches to accelerate expense, if that is appropriate for your tax situation. Owners currently in high tax brackets who are changing their lifestyle in the next several years to a lower income level often use it.

The original cost basis of an asset is reduced by the annual amount of depreciation taken against the asset. Other costs add to basis, such as certain improvements or fees on sale. The changes to basis result in the adjusted cost basis of the asset. Upon sale, excess depreciation previously expensed must be recaptured at ordinary income rates. The recapture rules are a bit complex, as are most IRS rules, but the IRS Farmer’s Publication mentioned earlier explains them well.

When an asset is sold, for instance a female alpaca that was purchased for breeding purposes and held for several years, the gain or loss must be determined for tax purposes. If an alpaca was purchased for $20,000, depreciated for two and a half years, or say 50 percent of its value, and then resold for $20,000, there would be a gain for tax purposes of $10,000. In other words, your adjusted cost basis is deducted from your sale price to determine gain or loss.

Once you’ve determined the amount of a gain, you must classify it as either ordinary income or capital gain. The sale of breeding stock qualifies for capital gains treatment (excepting that portion of the gain which is subject to depreciation recapture rules). Any alpacas held for resale, such as newborn crias that you do not intend to use in your breeding program, would be classified as inventory and produce ordinary income on sale.

This discussion of tax issues omits a number of rules that could impact your taxes. Tax preference items, alternate minimum taxes, employment taxes, installment sales, additional depreciation, and other concepts of importance were not discussed. Whether we like it or not, this is a complicated world we live in: it often requires the assistance of professional accounting and legal assistance.

In summary, the major tax advantages of alpaca ownership include the employment of depreciation, capital gains treatment, and if you are an active hands-on owner, the benefit of off-setting your ordinary income from other sources with the expenses from your ranching business. Wealth building by deferring taxes on the increased value of your herd is also a big plus.

 

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.