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Getting Started With Alpacas
There are a number of things to consider before launching into
alpaca ownership. First, talk to and visit as many existing breeders as
possible. You'll gain insight into the variety of ways different farms
have structured their operations and their businesses and you'll begin
to develop an eye for the types of alpacas you like.
The key for any new alpaca owner or breeder is to understand what
draws you to these animals and what type of business or lifestyle you
want to create around that. You can choose to become a breeder and
breed and sell breeding stock and services. You can invest in alpacas
by buying them but keeping them on another farm (agisting) or by
co-owning them with another buyer. You can enter the show circuit and
raise and train show animals. You can raise pet quality animals for
companionship and pleasure. You can focus of fiber and fiber arts. You
can operate a farm store and sell alpaca end products (yarn and
sweaters, for example) and by products (fertilizer, for example).
Alpacas can be a huge additional draw to an agritourism operation or
form the basis for creating one. Some of these could be big money
operations, others are not.
Once you've defined your own interests and goals, look for shows and
seminars and workshops in your area. The more you can educate yourself
about all aspects of alpacas and the alpaca business, the more informed
your choices will be. Then, based on this information, you can (and
should!) develop a business plan to help you define how you can best
meet your goals. Many existing breeders are willing to help new alpaca
owners with this.
Some new alpaca owners begin with a few geldings to test the waters.
Others begin with a few bred females and grow a herd slowly, learning
as they go. Others begin with an entire herd, so that they are "in
business" immediately. All of these (and many more) methods can be
successful, the important thing is for you to understand what your own
goals and expectations are and to choose a plan that can get you there.
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