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 1. Alpacas 101: Getting Started
 Where to Start?
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  3:43:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I need help on how to get started and have concerns. Is the economy a factor right now for profits? I live in Ohio with many farms nearby, can there be an are too saturated and have too much competition? Whats the best way to start with little money to invest? If just starting with a few fiber boys, how do a chose goods ones? I know, its alot! I have been doing alot of research, but still not finding definite, honest answers. Any help will be greatly appreciated for someone doing research to possibly start in the near future. I have the love for animals and outdoors, the drive to make a business work, and know lifes secret is taking something you love and finding a way to make money. Alpacas fascinate me so it seemed a logical choice. Thanks again!

Dusty Creek Ranch

123 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  5:50:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dusty Creek Ranch's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If I were you, I would go visit every ranch I could. Get going!

Regards,

Susan Frank
Dusty Creek Ranch
www.dustycreekranch.com
Texas, USA
432.556.2147
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  6:34:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
oh definatly! Trying to get in contact with some in the area. Using this forum as another way for help :) Need any info I can get. Will take opinions on books too!
Thanks!
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  7:11:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
You may get more replies if you post your location in Ohio. Much of what you want to know is going to be region specific, even within the state, so honestly, visiting as many local farms as you can, and perhaps attending some seminars, is a good way to get started. Reading the forum archives on here is also a good way to learn about a lot of topics, but just remember - if you ask 12 alpaca owners a question, you'll probably get 13 or more opinions... Most of the alpaca books out there are pretty pricey - but The Complete Alpaca (Hoffman, ed.) covers almost everything at least superficially.

I think that the best way to decide if alpacas are for you is to work for another farm for a while to really get a feel for what's involved. Go to some shows to see if that appeals to you. Many times at the shows there are clinics offered that can help you develop an eye for what makes a good alpaca. Putting your hands on the fleeces in a fleece show will also help you learn what to look for.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com

Edited by - jillmcm on 07/27/2010 7:12:04 PM
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MorganL

39 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  8:43:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was surprised at how inexpensive a couple of male pet alpacas were going to be and at the same time how EXPENSIVE the alpaca books are. I am working my way through The Camelid Companion, though. You can find it on Amazon - it's a really wonderful read (LOVE the pictures) - and one of the least expensive options.

Have fun!

Morgan
New to Alpacas - in Vermont
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  8:46:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If you join AOBA you can check books out from the library. An associate membership is $75 - way less than some of the books out there.

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
http://alpacanation.com/wingnutfarm.asp
http://wingnut-alpacas.com
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Judith

4005 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  08:21:27 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
How funny! You can buy fiber boys for less than the books today! Time for the book prices to come down, methinks..... :-)

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
LadySong Farm Bolivian Suri Alpacas
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
www.alpacanation.com/ladysong.asp
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  08:38:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Won't happen easily, Judith, unless people start e-publishing, self-publishing, etc. It's like textbooks - big books with very limited press runs equals expensive.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  12:07:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was shocked to see the prices of the books too! I found " Llamas and Alapacas A Guide to Management" on Amazon for $40. So Ill check it out, a few farms and get my knowledge on. Next step is designing a good barn and pasture and then more education on what livestock to buy, more education and more questions! Thanks you for all the advice. I didnt think about posting to a certain region, that would probably help!
Keep any info coming! I check into it all!
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pawsnpaca

371 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  1:14:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Right now the alpaca industry is affected by the same economic concerns as the housing market and the stock market. We are all hopeful that when the economy picks up, so will the alpaca market, but right now, not much is selling. The good news is that there are some fabulous bargains on alpacas out there right now. The bad news is that, esp if you sink money into breeding girls, the possibility exists that you may not see much return on your investment.

That being said, I'm going to give you some controversial advice... If I were just now getting into alpacas I would be looking to invest in 3-5 high-quality studs or potential breeding males (or alternatively, one or two stud/potential studs and enough cheap geldings to keep them company). If you do your homework, you should be able to get several males for the price of a female, and you can take your time learning about how to care for them without having to worry about caring for pregnant girls and new crias. If you can sell even a few breedings a year, that can go a long way to at least paying your expenses as you learn the busines. Here's a link to a good article on this option: http://www.woodyacresalpacas.com/Road-Less-Travelled.html

If you are going to go this route (and even if you are planning to buy good quality breeding girls) you need to educate yourself on what makes an animal "good". One hint - high price and hype does not guarantee a "good" alpaca (although well known ancestry or farm names do help with marketing). I was in the alpaca business for almost 5 years before I really felt I could independently judge a "good" alpaca. I would 1) visit lots of farms, and ask them to show you their best and their worst animals (and tell you why), 2) from those farms, choose a "mentor" to guide you in your purchases (preferably one who doesn't seem to put making a sale for themselves over your best interests), 3) attend as many alpaca shows as you can and 4) volunteer at those shows, esp in the ring or assisting the fleece judge so you can get your hands on fleeces and hear the assessments from the experts.

The fact that you are in Ohio with many farms nearby is going to make the farm-visit thing easier. Once you have alpacas, there are pros and cons to other local farms - on the one hand there's lots of competition for sales, but on the other hand buyers may be drawn into your area where they wouldn't have been if you were the only farm out in East Oshkosh. It also means you have a support system in place if you have problems, a source of local alpaca products, and most likely experienced alpaca vets. If you follow my advice and get stud males, it means there may be a lot of local farms willing to do "drive by" or mobile breedings with your boys (boarding females could be problematic if you don't have any other girls to keep them company). On the other hand, you'll have a lot of local competition for breeding services in your area, so you'd better be sure your boys are really outstanding. Be sure to ask the smaller farms what they look for in a breeding male - they may be your best customers if the local "hot studs" are priced out of their budgets. No sense in buying a nice white male if your area is full of white champions. You may find that what is really lacking in the area is a fine-fleeced black or a really nice modern gray.

When you are doing farm visits, be sure to ask them if they feel it's good or bad to have some many farms around. Oh - and be sure you are visiting both big and small and new and established farms - they'll all have different perspectives to share with you.

Good luck - you're going to have fun!

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  5:23:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you So much Lisa! I believe from what I am gathering so far, I will be starting out with just breeder males. I have 3 farms close to me and plan on getting as much information as they are willing to help me with. With little experience, I dont think Ill be ready to deal with girls and birthing anytime soon! As I get more educated, Ill feel more confident and feel better about expanding the farm. Ill have to become more familiar with ones with good fiber and are studable to be able to make some kind of money back. I will probably have to put alot of money to begin with in the barn and supplies, of course. Even though sales are probably down right now, I have to believe that it will come back or at least be something I can be profitable in the future. Im not in it to become rich, but it would be nice to be somewhat successful.
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rachshees

478 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  8:29:28 PM  Show Profile  Send rachshees an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I think you are on the right track. Right now you can find potential fiber/herdsire quality males for next to nothing. I think this is because there are so many people that can't sell anything at all and that is what they are able to sell. If you are interested in the fiber part of it and want to make products you will be able to help maintain all the expenses you are going to have.

Rachel Wingert
Diane Sheesley
Rainbow Mountain Alpacas
Punxsutawney PA 15767
rainbowmtalpaca@yahoo.com
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bobvicki

2956 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  8:30:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If you are going to start with breeder males than you should visit all the farms near you and contact all that are within 200 miles of you and find out from them what they are looking for in males, for example color and genetics. Find out if you had the males would they be interested in using them.

Bob

Bob & Vicki Blodgett
Suri Land Alpaca Ranch
3288 Halter Avenue
Newton, Iowa 50208
641-831-3576
alpaca@iowatelecom.net
www.alpacanation.com/suriland.asp
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2010 :  8:41:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, glad to hear Im hopefully in the right state of mind with getting the males. I do have a lot of homework to do to find out what the farms around here are looking for and if they would have interest if I invested in such an animal. Looking around it does seem I shouldnt have too much trouble finding some at a reasonable price. Im learning alot and have only just started. Its all very exciting, my biggest problem will be having the restraint to not take them all home with me and make informed decisions without my heart strings getting pulled along the way!
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Paradise

922 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  12:53:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit Paradise's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Not to be too discouraging, but starting out as an unknown breeder with unknown males is going to make selling breedings hard, if not impossible, especially in an area with proven males. I have been in business 6 years and I have a nationally known herdsire, and I still don't sell near the amount of breedings that I expected I would. In my opinion, the only way you will sell breedings is to get the males proven and do well in the show ring with the offspring.

Laura Hillman
Paradise Alpacas
Hempstead, TX
979-826-9559
www.alpacanation.com/paradisealpacasoftx.asp
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lhmaggie

299 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  08:11:15 AM  Show Profile  Visit lhmaggie's Homepage  Click to see lhmaggie's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
I also do not want to be discouraging but I would suggest to start out with 2 pet males. You might determine this business isn't for you. As Laura said, you will get little to no outside breedings if the males aren't at least ribbon winners and have produced winning offspring. I know of farms that have gone this route and were disappointed in the business. Be careful you aren't sold some alpacas. You be the one to choose and buy them. Sales are really slow and a great time to buy but don't be pressured.

Margaret Laird
Lighthouse Alpacas
Jamestown, Pa 16134
lapaca@windstream.net
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  09:12:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I guess I need to stress that I dont just plan on a stud only farm. This is just a plan to start out. I looked up proven, registered herdsires and able to get them affordably. Once I have my feet in the alapca water and gotten to know how to run the farm better, I would add some females to the mix in spring ( when herds are getting too big and prices should still be favorable) I dnt want to end up with pregnant females, unable to sell them and in the meantime the herd is getting larger and I still dont feel comfortable in what Im doing. Its all just a precaution to just start out with a couple of males to get used to the idea and educate myself before diving in.
Thank you beyond appreciation for the advice, it helps tremendously!
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kmecham

115 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  09:12:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When you are looking for books, sometimes you can get really good deals on EBay. Just a thought, but it worked for me.

Kathie Mecham
Ace of Hearts Alpacas
West Haven, Utah
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starlingfarms

331 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  2:13:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit starlingfarms's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I live in Ohio and see more people doing exactly this...starting out with a few males. I think this is a great way to get into the business without spending a lot of money, until they are positive alpacas should be in their lives. There are some extremely nice males out there that are priced very well. Being in Ohio, and with all the farms around, doesn't affect my business at all. It is wonderful having farms and friends around that can count on each other helping out. I would be happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have. You can email me privately or call me if you wish.





Jacki Kraft
Starling Farms
3606 Blackberry Lane
Westlake, OH 44145
440/734-6386
starlingfarms@wowway.com
www.alpacanation.com/starling.asp
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loveazoo

18 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  2:39:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When you sell an alpaca, is it normally out of state or to someone you know? Just curious, Im sure it varies... and Im sure marketing your herd online helps alot?! I love the close community of help Im finding on here and from locals, its just what I was looking for and is very encouraging!

I want to ask to all out there, if you were building a small barn, what are the must haves and what would you have done diffrently if given the chance? Please keep in mind, I only have room for something like 30 x 24 barn :)
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starlingfarms

331 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2010 :  3:18:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit starlingfarms's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The majority of my inquiries and purchases are from farms out of state looking for new bloodlines. And what a great way to get them by purchasing jr. herdsires and proven herdsires. I get farms that have made prior purchases coming back as well. So both are good. Recent sales have been to NY, FL, WV, CA, OH, ME, KY. Most farms have purchased multiple alpacas and mostly males. Some farms are new just getting into alpacas and others have alpacas.


I can't help you with the barn ideas as I agist my herd so don't do barns. I am sure there are plenty of farms out there that will chime in.






Jacki Kraft
Starling Farms
3606 Blackberry Lane
Westlake, OH 44145
440/734-6386
starlingfarms@wowway.com
www.alpacanation.com/starling.asp
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