Why should I become an Alpaca owner or breeder ?
The getting back to nature and the basics of living a "Lifestyle" is what is
so appealing to many people searching for a business opportunity that can be
operated from home and will involve the whole family.
What type of people will purchase Alpacas ?
People who own a Lifestyle Block of land and who love animals are the people
who will become involved in the Alpaca Industry. Lifestyle block owners want
an animal that does not push through fences, is easy to care for, does not pug
up the paddocks in the winter and is a dream to handle and be with. Alpacas
offer all of these qualities, and many more.
What sort of Land is best suited for Alpacas ?
Any. Alpacas are now in New Zealand from the top of the North Island to the
bottom of the South Island. The love hills to run around on and don't mind the
wet clays in the winter. They will basically live and thrive in all conditions
all over New Zealand.
What is the down side to owning Alpacas ?
The only down side is the cost of purchasing Breeding Females. If Alpacas were
cheap then everyone would own them. As you have to start with two animals, as
they can't survive on their own, the price to become involved in this industry
can initially be quite high.
What do you do with an Alpaca ?
Firstly, they provide an excellent investment opportunity and secondly they
produce the most luxurious natural fibre on the planet. As an Investment Opportunity
it would currently be the worlds finest Livestock Investment available. Their
fibre is known for it's fineness, light weight and lustre. Alpaca textile products
are recognised world-wide.
Why are Alpacas such a good Investment ?
The Alpaca's high value and high rate of return make them viable even on small
lifestyle Blocks of land. Alpacas are scarce out side of South America and their
fibre is superb and in high demand on the world market place.
Why will Alpacas numbers continue to rise in New Zealand and Australia ?
Peru & Chile have no more available grazing for any more animals, any future
production of Fibre will be coming from New Zealand and Australia.
Do Alpacas have any other uses besides Fibre ?
They make great Pets and companion animals. There is a growing trend to show
these animals due to their high aesthetic appeal. They have loveable natures
and can easily be trained to lead and are so gentle that small children can
lead them in parades.
What are the correct names for Alpacas ?
The Males are called Machos. The Females are called Hembras. The Babies are
called Crias When a Cria turns one year old it is called a Tui.
How long do Alpaca's live for ?
They live for up to 25 years, this is one of the reasons why they make a good
investment as you could with good management expect to get 15 to 20 Cria from
a breeding female over her life span.
At what age do Alpaca's start Breeding ?
The Females can be mated at 12 months of age while the Males are not used as
stud animals until they are usually two and a half to three years old.
How long are the Female Alpacas pregnant for ?
A long time! The gestation period is usually 335 to 355 days which is just under
12 months and they only ever have one Cria at time, half are boys and the other
half are girls.
What do Alpacas eat ?
They mostly live on grass. They are ruminants, which means they chew their cud
like a cow. Because Alpacas evolved in harsh conditions, they utilise their
food more efficiently than other ruminants. Alpaca's love meadow hay, lucerne
hay and are more of a browser than a grazer. They eat more like a goat than
a sheep. They also like Alpaca Nuts as a treat.
Are Alpacas Intelligent ?
Yes. Alpacas are highly intelligent animals who are quick to learn what you
expect from them. They are constantly communicating with each other using a
variety of body postures and a variety of different sounds. The sound most heard
is a soft humming which is as unique as the animal itself.
What sort of fencing do Alpacas need ?
Nothing extra is required other than ordinary farm fences. Deer Fencing is not
needed at all. Some Alpaca Farmers use Post and Timber fences but only because
it looks so good and the animals look so good behind this type of fence. Alpacas
don't challenge fences.
Are Alpacas easy to look after ?
As they are small animals they are easy to look after and require no special
care at all. They simply need shearing once a year, worming and vaccinations
every six months. Unlike sheep they don't get foot rot, fly strike and usually
get very few worms.
How do you shear Alpacas ?
Alpacas don't have a flexible back bone so you can't shear them the same way
as a sheep although you can use the same equipment that a sheep shearer uses.
You can use a board on the floor or use a specially designed shearing table
to shear Alpacas. You gently stretch the animal out on the table, shear one
side and then the other. Someone has to sit on a stool and hold their head the
How many Alpacas can you run to the acre ?
With good stock rotation you can run 7 or 8 to the acre. They actually eat less
than a sheep does. If you use supplementary feeds then you can run more than
Can you run Alpacas with other Animals ?
Yes you can. The only consideration here is whether the animals you want to
run with your Alpacas will hurt the Alpacas. The Alpaca is a very gentle animal.
How many Alpacas do you need to start with ?
You must start with at least two animals. Alpacas are a herd animal and hate
being on their own. No reputable breeder should sell you just one animal unless
you already have two and you are just adding to your herd.
Do Alpacas have twins ?
No. Alpacas are a very slow breeder in that they only ever have one Cria. They
are pregnant for eleven and a half months. They feed their Cria for about 6
months at which stage they are usually taken off of mum and weaned. This gives
mum six months to get back into good condition and ready for the next Cria.
When do Alpacas have their Cria ?
Usually between 8.00am and 2.00pm . If a Cria is born later than this time then
there was probably a problem giving birth. If a Cria is born at night then something
was very wrong. Alpacas usually wait until a fine day to give birth as well,
this happens in 98% of the births and it always pays to keep a careful watch
on any females due to give birth.
What is it called when an Alpaca gives birth ?
As a baby Alpaca is called a Cria then giving birth is called "Unpacking" or
Are Alpacas dangerous ?
Absolutely not. Alpacas are totally safe even for young children to manage.
They do not bite or butt and they do not have teeth, horns, hooves or claws
to do you any serious injury. Alpacas will never charge or run through you in
a pen or a corner, in fact they do the opposite in that they stand still so
that you can catch them. They are unlike no other farm animal to handle.
How do you round Alpacas up ?
The easiest way is to just call them. If you need to round them up into a pen
then a piece of rope between two people is the best way of doing this. It is
easier to lead these animals than to try and push them.
Can you keep Male and Female Alpacas together ?
No. Once the Females are pregnant they want no part of the Macho at all. The
Male will only annoy the girls so there is no point in keeping them together.
The Males should be kept at least a couple of paddocks away from the girls and
especially any maiden females.
Do you need to keep Alpacas indoors during the winter ?
Not at all, Alpacas are very robust animals and are quite happy to stay outside
all year round. The actually don't like being inside and even if you offer a
shed for them to go into out of the rain, they will not use it.
How do you transport Alpacas ?
They will travel in the back of a ute, trailer or van. They will even sit in
the back of a station wagon. Once you start moving the Alpaca will sit down
and stay seated during the whole journey. A specially built trailer with a ramp
is the ideal way to transport a few animals all at once.
Are there Vets who are interested in Alpacas ?
Yes there are but you may need to shop around to find a vet who is willing to
learn all the new things that Alpacas will present him or her with. There are
now many young vets around the country who are very keen to become involved
with these animals.
What are the veterinary costs associated with Alpacas?
Veterinary costs are remarkably low as there are no specific medical problems
in these very hardy animals. The births are usually trouble free and take place
in daylight hours.
Are Alpacas prone to any diseases ?
The only serious problem in New Zealand is Facial Excema. As Alpacas love the
dead grass matter at the base of the pasture, where the facial Excema spores
grow, they are susceptible to this disease. Prevention is the answer here and
you should spray your pasture during the danger period of January to March.
Is there a national organisation for Alpacas ?
Yes, it is called AANZ (Alpaca Association of New Zealand). This is the national
body that looks after all the requirements of all it's members. If you are thinking
about becoming involved in the Alpaca Industry then a good place to start is
to join AANZ.
How can I make money out of Alpacas ?
There are many different ways :
- Proceeds from the sale of animals
- Proceeds from Breeding & Stud Services
- Proceeds from the sale of Fibre
- Proceeds from farm agistments and related services
- Proceeds from Alpaca related products
- Proceeds from processing dung into fertiliser
- Proceeds from shearing other breeders animals
- Proceeds from farm visits by schools & public open days