Alpacas farms are a labor of love as well as can be profitable. These creatures are super smart and curious and very docile but stubborn side to them. They are a pleasure to be around for some and others don't want to be bothered. Just like any pet or animal, it is a matter of personal preference. If you like them, try to find a farm that will let you interact with them. Some petting zoos have them as they are very gentle and just curious but want love. There are many variations of alpacas as well as types of wool that they have that is based on the region that they came from. There are different levels of alpacas such as pet quality, show quality, and hobby farm quality, which will vary the price of the alpaca with different levels, similar to dogs.
One alpaca can cost anywhere for $250-$20,000 with the highest on record being $500,000 for a show quality alpaca. This is because there is a limited amount in the US currently. Peru has the largest herds of alpaca and has the best gene pool. However, the US stopped the importation from Peru and now they can only come from Australia and Canada. Alpacas were first imported in 1984, this is yet another reason for the limitations of alpacas. They are also a little more difficult to breed as they are not conducive to artificial insemination as most farm animals. So, all breeding must be done the natural way. You can, however, hire a male for this purpose, similar to dog breeding.
Alpaca only has one baby and their pregnancy is about a year long. And, they typically are only bred in the spring and summer. This further limits the population, which isn't always a bad thing when there are backyard breeders.
Pet alpacas are alpacas that do not show quality. Maybe they are too short or too fat, have crooked teeth, whatever the reason they are the cheapest to purchase with show quality being the most expensive. The farm alpaca is where the yarn alpacas reside. They are in the middle and where we get our wool to make our beautiful beanies and scarves. These categories can be found under our main menu labeled "alpaca clothing".
There are actually a few revenue streams for alpaca farms. They sell off their raw fiber, the yarn and clothing sales, breeding alpaca, sale of the actual animal, meat sales and manure sales, which actually have a lot of value to the organic farmer.
The cost of purchase should include the alpaca registration, fecal tet and BVD test. The ongoing costs are shearing, food, straw and a health check from a vet from time to time. The average cost per alpaca is around $400/year. Which for livestock is not that horrible. They are fun animals that are curious in nature and a joy to be around. They are not like cows or other livestock that lack personality most of the time. Each one has a very unique personality that with time, you will get to know.