Our journey began in April 2011 -
So here we are, for the last 6 months we have been researching on the Internet, meeting area alpaca farmers, seeing their setups, talking to them about the how-to, need to know, what ifs.
I can say that these are some of the nicest people we have met. Our mentors, John & Denise Jacobus of Iduema Creek Alpacas have been unbelievably helpful, as was Tony Viola of Northern Star Alpacas. I would highly recommend that if you are considering this field that you seek out an area alpaca farmer who has been doing it for a while and who can assist you, answer your questions and aid you in setting up your farm. We haven’t been to a single farm that hasn’t wanted to be helpful. They were all more than happy to show us how their farms were set up; the farm stores or online stores that they had; the fiber produced by their alpacas. I can only hope that down the road we can assist someone interested in alpaca farming the same way we have been assisted
There really are a lot of questions to consider:
Huacaya vs Suri; full Peruvian Accoyas and Alianzas; Chilean or Bolivian - genetics, fiber production, marketing, farming for breeding or fiber or both?
Are you going to show just the fiber or the animal; do you want to start out with a herd or just 2 bred females, just males, what will work best for you?
Shearing of the animal, do you sell bulk fiber, turn it into roving, turn it into yarn, or send out to a co-op to have articles made for you to sell? Fleece statistics.
Birthing of the crias – is there a vet in the area that takes care of alpacas if needed? What are the typical medical problems? What shots are required; what food supplements do they need; how much care is required on a daily basis?
How much hay do you need? How many alpacas do you want to ultimately end up with?
Zoning regulations; permits required, if any?
How big an area for grazing; how big a structure to house the alpacas; fencing info, should you have metal fencing vs. another type of fencing?
How many separate areas do you need in the grazing and shelter area for boys vs. girls; mothers giving birth to their cria; younger males from older males; an area for when the vet comes?
What specific needs do nursing mothers require?
What else do you need to set up for the alpacas – halters-leads, scales, and feeding troughs, water buckets?
Do you want to have a farm store or an online store? Do you want to set up a web site?
Initial costs – alpacas, insurances, farm setup, association fees, and business fees. Do not be afraid to ask any questions, cover all the bases.
The one thing that every alpaca farmer we spoke with agreed upon was that alpaca farming was the least demanding of all the livestock farming. Once you have set things up, you will find it to be extremely rewarding.
OK - so we checked with the Town as far as any zoning regulations and being that we are already in an agricultural district we really didn’t have any. Our area did not require any permits for the shelter needed for the alpacas.
We checked with an accountant in regards to how it will relate to our situation.
We priced building our own shelter vs. buying a pre-fabricated one – we decided that we are going to go with the prefabricated one.
We are currently pricing and looking into our fencing options.
We are gathering information about bringing electric and water out to the shelter. Having enough room in the shelter to store some hay. We believe a 12x36 shelter will be ample for us. Our intention is to keep our herd at a size no larger than 10. We have chosen the area on our property that we want to use – when the weather breaks we will start to clear.
In the meantime we are going to file a DBA (Doing Business As) with the County, this will enable us to create a business, set up banking accounts and tax-exempt status on farm related expenses.
We are going to check into insurance as far as the farm and alpacas are concerned – can we add onto our homeowner’s policy – or is it better to set up a separate farm policy?
Our journey has definitely begun......
Interested in alpacas? We would love to spend some time with you, whether you just want to visit with our alpacas or if you are looking to add to your farm or perhaps start a farm, we are here to help you. Please visit our Openherd site for any purchasing information. If any questions, please feel free to contact us.