Making Money From Your Alpacas
At the moment as new people continue to join the industry and we grow the national herd, there are opportunities to sell the alpacas that you don’t want to include in your breeding programme. However you sell your alpacas it is important that you do everything possible to ensure they are going to a good home and that they will be kept other alpacas. Breeding females need to be kept with other breeding females.
The price you can achieve will vary depending on the quality of the alpaca and its breeding status. For example a castrated male (wether) with a poorly structured fleece may sell for around £300, whereas one with very positive fleece characteristics may make as much as £1,000. Entire males with potential as a future stud can range in value from £2,000 upwards whilst the best proven stud males can be as much as £25,000 or more. A maiden female may currently fetch anything from £2,500 to £18,000 again depending on quality and pedigree. Proven females with cria at foot can fetch up to £4,000 more than a maiden.
Sales Models – Direct Advertising
Many people sell their alpacas through direct advertising or recommendation. Specialist magazines such as Alpaca (British Alpaca Society magazine ) or Alpaca World offer access to people already interested in alpacas. Local newspapers and magazines will reach people in your area but consider carefully whether the people who read the publication will have the resources needed to keep alpacas, or you risk wasting your money. Building your own website offers the opportunity to offer your alpacas directly to people looking for alpacas over the internet.
Sales Models – Specialist Internet Search Engines
Many people take the opportunity to tie in with professional alpaca sales engines such as Alpaca Seller where buyers can enter details of the characteristics they are looking for (e.g. colour, sex, age, breeding status, micron etc) and get back a list of alpacas in the engine which match their criteria, together with details of how to contact the sellers.
Sales Models – Shows & Events
Some breeders take trade stands at game fairs, county or local shows, often combining promotion of the alpacas they have for sale with products they have produced from their fibre. Costs for stand space can be expensive at the larger shows and you will probably need to invest in other equipment such as a small gala tent, tables, maniquins etc.
Sales Models – Auctions & Sales
A small number of auctions of alpacas take place every year. As with all auctions the results can be quite variable from both the buyers and sellers perspective depending on who is at the auction and the level of competition for an individual alpaca. It is important to remember that you will pay a percentage of the hammer value to the auctioneer, sales are normally in Guineas.
Sales days provide a more predictable alternative to auctions. These are often run by British Alpaca Society regional groups or breeders who club together. Sellers pay a fee to include their alpacas in the sale, a catalogue is produced featuring all the alpacas in the sale and indicating the price range each alpaca falls into. Visitors to the sale then view the alpacas and negotiate with the seller for any alpaca they are interested in.
Raw Fibre – Marketing your Fibre
You can sell your fleeces as raw unprocessed fibre to hand spinners. The price you get will depend on demand in your area, quality of the fibre and its colour. Rarer colours fetch the highest prices.
Processed Yarn - Marketing your Fibre
The next step you can take is to have your fibre into yarn. If you have 25kg or more of the same colour and quality fibre you can send it to one of the bulk mini mills for processing. Click on this link to find their contact details.
If you want to process single fleeces or amounts less than 25kg you will need to send your fibre to one of the mini mills specialising in small amounts. Click on this link to find their contact details.
The mills will turn your fibre into yarn suitable for knitting or weaving, which you can either sell or turn into your own products. Processing costs for small amounts of fleece vary upwards from £30/kg of received fleece.
The greatest opportunity to make money from your fibre lies in turning your fleece into quality products. However, this requires the greatest overall financial investment, the creation of quality designs, securing channels through which to sell your products, and a degree of promotion and marketing. To succeed in this you will need determination and some good luck.
If you have or are planning to have paying guests at your house, you can promote your alpacas as an added attraction. Perhaps offering the opportunity to get closer to these fascinating creatures by getting involved in daily husbandry activities such as checking and feeding. Your guests will also provide you with a ready made market for any products you produce.
Other options include developing a rare breed / childrens farm and / or visitors centre including alpacas amongst other interesting breeds. Sources of revenue include charging people for admission, selling refreshments and selling products.
If you have an entire male with no conformation faults and good fleece characteristics you may wish to consider offering his services as a stud. You can provide these services either as mobile services where you take him to the female, or drive by services where the female visits him on your farm, or as an on farm service where the female stays on your farm for mating, usually for a period of 60 days after successful mating. If you opt for the latter option you will need adequate land to house visiting females and their current cria, good husbandry practices to ensure their health whilst with you and facilities to confirm pregnancy.
If you have spare land and the time you may want to consider looking after other peoples alpacas for them. Charges for agistment start at around £6 per week per alpaca.