What is an alpaca ?

 

Members of the South American camelid family, alpacas were bred over 6,000 years ago from the wild vicuna. Pre-dating even the Inca Empire, alpacas, and their cousin, the llama, were the only domesticated livestock in the New World before the arrival of the Europeans. They were an integral part of the culture and lifestyle of their Andean caretakers, serving as a source of food, fuel, clothing and transportation. With the Spanish Conquest of the Incas came the almost total annihilation of the alpaca and llama, along with much of the human population. Bred to be survivors,  these hardy camelids prevailed in the unforgiving conditions of the Altiplano.

Today these animals number in the millions once again, but outside their native South America, their populations are still small.

Alpacas are intelligent, highly social animals, easy to care for and handle, appealing to look at and fun to have around. They communicate mainly through body posturing and a gentle humming sound.

Llamas typically range in size from about 100-200Kg whereas alpacas are about 70-90Kg. While having many features in common each animal has been bred for different purposes.

The sweet-tempered, gentle alpaca is prized for its luxurious fibre, which is stronger and more resilient than merino sheep wool. Alpaca fibre comes in an extraordinary variety of 22 natural colours, ranging from pure white through fawn, to a range of browns and a true jet black. Luxurious garments are crafted from the silky fibre.

As companions or investments, alpacas offer heart warming and rewarding experiences.

Alpaca farming as an investment

 

If retirement to the small block with a few friendly, majestic creatures to keep you company and supply enough fine fibre to home spin/knit jerseys for the family is all that is desired, a few wethers (gelded males) will fill the bill.

If however, return on investment, and a serious source of income are desirable, the more involved breeder status should be considered.

A primary investment benefit of owning alpacas is based on the concept of compounding. Savings accounts earn interest, which if left in the account, adds to principal. The increased principal earns additional interest, thereby compounding the investor's return. Alpacas reproduce almost every year, and about one-half of their cria (babies) are females. When you retain the offspring in your herd, they begin producing more cria.

Alpaca compounding is a method of tax-deferred wealth building. As your herd grows, you postpone paying income tax on its increasing value until such time as you begin selling the offspring.

Alpacas have, for more than a decade, been consistently sold for very high returns in New Zealand, Australia, and The United States. Much of the reasoning for this high price level is because of the desirable attributes. They are quite simply, lovely animals to farm. Beyond the emotionally based high values, alpaca breeding has generated high returns because:

Alpacas are scarce. There are only about 3 million alpacas in the world.

Alpaca numbers will grow very slowly.

New cria are born after an 11 1/2-month gestation period. Twins are extremely rare.

Embryo transplanting is possible, however, another alpaca is  the only suitable host.  Hence, quality may be improved, however, the numbers are not likely to be increased.

Artificial insemination has now  been achieved however the process is costly and the success rate is much lower than achieved naturally.

Exports from South America are very restricted and costly..

Alpaca farming is "economically viable" on a small block, thus the operation can typically qualify as a "farming business" for Inland Revenue purposes. Expenses typically incurred in the farming venture, from the computer to the Ute are deductible expenses. In the initial start up years, a tax loss incurred on the farm can be offset against income generated from other sources.

Attributes of Alpacas

Having survived the Spanish conquest and adapting to the inhospitable conditions of the Altiplano where daily temperature ranges between + 200C during the day to -200 C at night, the alpaca has evolved to one of the hardiest domesticated animals on earth.

Alpacas are:

Easily farmed on a small block, with stocking rates of about 5 to the acre.

Low impact stock. With soft, padded feet, the alpaca has an extremely low impact on fragile landforms.

Low level carriers of internal parasites.

Stimulated ovulators, thus they can be mated at any time of the year.

Accustomed to using a communal dung site.

Parasite infestation is therefore low.

Alpaca dung is a rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Alpaca droppings are almost odourless, and are low in nitrogen.

Grazers and chew their cud. They have a split upper lip which prevents them from damaging the vegetation's roots

Consistently trouble free when birthing. The birth of a new cria usually occurs during daylight hours, on a fine day.

Long-lived -- approximately 20 years.

Naturally docile and are typically "mustered" by calling them. Dogs are not required.

Modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach. They convert grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.

Small and easy to handle.

Intelligent, which makes them pleasant to be around and easy to train.

Adaptable to varied habitat, successfully being raised around the world from 15,000 feet to sea level.

Not slaughtered outside of their native South America, thus allowing us to profit from them without killing them.

Not susceptible to footrot.

Not subject to lice infestations

Not prone to blowfly strike.

Not in need of tail docking.

 

The Alpaca Introduction to New Zealand 1

After returning from a visit to South America in 1981, Ian Nelson of Taupo realised the potential for farming alpacas in New Zealand and attempted to locate stock in countries, which would be acceptable to our importation regulations.

In 1981, The Royal Zoological Society in London reported only 420 alpacas in the world outside of South America.  Ian was able to find  a few alpacas which might be available for export to New Zealand in a Canadian Game Park.   However, the NZ Ministry of Agriculture revealed that alpacas were classed as zoo animals only, and were not allowed to be farmed in New Zealand.  An  import permit was not to be granted.

Undaunted, Ian set out to change the status of the alpaca from a zoo animal to a farm animal by completing an Environmental Impact Assessment complete with comments from a long list of interested organisations. Final approval came in August 1985.

In May 1986, Ian imported the first alpacas into New Zealand for farming. Ian's efforts opened the way for business syndicates to import alpacas from Chile, which had not signed a total ban on the exportation of live animals and unprocessed alpaca products from the Andean bloc countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina.

The United States and Australia soon followed the New Zealand lead and imported alpacas into New Zealand, farming them in New Zealand while waiting for their own country's approval to allow importation.

Although New Zealand was the first country to import alpacas from South America since 1845, our timing could not have been worse. The initial, large-scale importation arrived in 1987, as did the 1987 share market crash. New Zealanders were not interested in investing in a new animal enterprise.

Most of the 1987 imports were sold to Australians, depleting our national herd to less than 700 animals. From this New Zealand beginning, the Australian herd has expanded to over 80,000 animals. Australia is now the recognised world leader in alpaca research and presently administers the International Alpaca Registry.


Alpaca Numbers

At present, there are an estimated 3 million alpacas in the world. Of this 3 million, only some 200,000 are presently outside of South America.

Herd numbers in South America have, been static for many years. This is a result of:

Herd management, which is generally not as sophisticated as elsewhere.

Breeding success rate. Only about 40 to 60% in South America.

To the South American, the alpaca is still fibre, meat and hide. Average animal mortality (including cull) is 7-8 years, rather than the 15-16 years seen elsewhere.

In Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America, however, management practices are seeing significant growth from our modest beginnings.

 

The Cost of Purchasing Alpacas

The alpaca industry is in the "breeding" stage of its lifecycle. Industry leaders anticipate that this situation will continue for at least the next 10 years. As Alpaca numbers increase in the developed world, equalling or exceeding the numbers presently in South America, the prices are expected to decline. We would however, anticipate that pricing levels will eventually start a downward trend and gradually move to a plateau over a number of years, as contrasted to a sudden "crash" as has been seen in other livestock industries which have appeared in New Zealand in the past.

The cost of breeding stock will fluctuate with the quality of each animal. Although each breeder will independently define quality based upon his or her own business plan, quality is generally perceived to encompass:

Conformation

Colour

    Solid vs. Multi-coloured

    White vs. any of the other 22 colours

Fibre quality

    Micron count, density, uniformity, crimp&crinkle, tensile strength,

Parentage

    Colour, fibre, conformation, etc.

Breeding stock pricing levels are market driven, however, fluctuations will occur based upon individual breeder requirements, objectives and personal circumstances.

New breeders should have a well-established business plan in place prior to entering the industry. If your objective is to become a recognised breeder of the finest quality, single colour stock, suitable for export, your initial herd is likely to require a substantial investment.

If however, breeding is more of a hobby, intended primarily for the pleasure of having alpacas on your block and the incredible joys of the annual new arrivals, a lower quality female, priced accordingly, may be quite suitable to provide many years of enjoyment and the potential of some financial return.

Cash Flow Analysis

Alpaca breeders/investors come from many walks of life. Background, financial position, future plans, personal circumstances and time available to commit to the venture differ dramatically from breeder to breeder.

Although investment in a herd size adequate to allow immediate sale of the progeny may be desirable, this situation seldom occurs. Most of the breeders whom we have met, and in fact, in our own situation, invest in a base herd within their personal financial means. During the initial years, the base herd is typically expanded via controlled breeding to a targeted long-term base herd.

As the target, long-term base herd number is approached, progeny are sold.

The start-up/long-term base herd numbers ranges from extremes of 1 female to hundreds. To be seriously committed to alpaca breeding both as a lifestyle and as a reasonable source of income, the initial start-up herd might approximate 5 or more females.

To produce a possible investment model we have prepared a very generalised projected cash flow statement using the following assumptions:

The initial breeding stock consists of:

5 pregnant female

1 stud quality male.

The initial purchase price is:

                $ 10,000 for each female,

                $ 5,000 for the male.

In addition to the purchased stud, periodic stud services are both acquired and provided to improve genetics.

All prices remain fixed over a 10 year period.

Reproduction assumes:

80% birth/survival rate (very conservative)

50% of the births are male, 50% are female.

1 in 4 males produced will be of stud quality.

Veterinary costs are $ 100 per year per animal retained.

The stud male is periodically "rotated". That is, your stud is sold and another stud is purchased.

Wethers are sold after being weaned for $ 1,000 each.

An average fibre yield of 3Kg per retained animal is sold at the wholesale rate of $40 per Kg.

Selling expenses are estimated at 10% of the annual female gross sales proceeds.

Each of these assumptions is likely to vary from time to time and from breeder to breeder.

The assumptions used and the resultant cash flow analysis constitute a simple framework providing a possible financial overview. We would urge the prospective breeder to expand this analysis, customising it to more closely reflect personal circumstances.

We at Rocky Bay Alpacas will be pleased to discuss varied investment strategies, and produce a custom analysis for potential breeders desiring such services.

Although we are fully qualified to assist the new breeder with the preparation of a customised business plan, Independent professional consultation should be considered.

 

 

 

Projected stock expansion

Starting with a base of 5 females and 1 male

Building to a herd of 10 females

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Females:

5

Births

2

2

3

3

4

4

4

4

4

Sales

1

1

1

2

4

4

4

4

4

Females at end of year

5

6

7

9

10

10

10

10

10

10

Males:

1

Births

2

2

3

3

4

4

4

4

4

Sales

2

2

3

3

4

4

4

4

4

Males at end of year

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

10 year Cash Flow Projection

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Receipts

Sale of Females

10,000

10,000

10,000

20,000

40,000

40,000

40,000

40,000

40,000

Sale of wethers

2,000

1,000

2,000

2,000

3,000

3,000

3,000

3,000

3,000

Sale of stud males

10,000

5,000

10,000

5,000

10,000

5,000

10,000

5,000

Stud fees

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

Sale of fibre

720

840

960

1,200

1,320

1,320

1,320

1,320

1,320

1,320

Disbursements:

Purchase of base stock

50,000

Purchase of stud male

5,000

5,000

5,000

5,000

5,000

Stud fees

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

2,000

Vet fees

600

700

800

1,000

1,100

1,100

1,100

1,000

1,100

1,100

Selling expenses

1,000

2,000

4,000

4,000

4,000

4,000

4,000

Net Cash Flow

-$54,880

$10,140

$16,160

$16,200

$25,220

$44,220

$44,220

$44,320

$44,220

$44,220

Herd Value

$55,000

$65,000

$85,000

$105,000

$105,000

$105,000

$105,000

$105,000

$105,000

$105,000

 

Shearing

Shearing is done once per year. Although some articles and books have referred to an option of shearing every other year, we feel annual shearing is an absolute must. Beyond a year, the animal's comfort is compromised and the fibre quality is degraded due to excessive contamination by vegetable matter. Additionally, if the fibre is to be commercially spun, its staple length will exceed the recommended maximum length of 4 - 5 inches.

Even today, shearing methods in South America tend to be primitive. Knives, pieces of tin or broken glass are used to hack off the fibre. In New Zealand and other developed countries, our modern methods are much more effective. Techniques vary somewhat from farm to farm and there is probably no absolutely "proper' method.

In Northland, October thru December offer reasonable climatic conditions for shearing. Animals should not be shorn too early in the spring to avoid exposure to wet and cold weather.

Shearing too late in the spring or summer may result in insufficient re-growth and too short a coat for the coming winter. The hot humid months may also present uncomfortable conditions if shearing is delayed beyond say January.

We use the "trussed-prone restraint" technique. This technique involves pulling the animal onto its side and restraining the back and front legs so the alpaca can't flail or get back on its feet.

The rear legs are pulled to the rear of the animal and the front legs are pulled far forward. The alpaca is thereby stretched out and rendered immobile. If lots of help is available, a third handler can hold the animal's head. Holding of the head, and gentle stroking and talking seems to reduce the stress for both the animal and us.

Once restrained, the shearer removes the clip from one side. Then the animal is rolled to its back and onto the other side to complete the process.

This technique has proved to be very efficient, and generally stress free for the animals.

The entire shearing process has taken us as little as 6 minutes per animal. With experience, we are now getting slower!

Remember that this is the big day for your alpaca. She's worked an entire year to produce this crop. Don't muck it up for the sake of saving 2 minutes.

The shearing process can be a fun day for the breeder, the neighbours and fellow breeders. We make a day of it by inviting friends to help us with the task. The additional helpers allow us to have sufficient time to ensure the fibre is properly sorted and segregated as it comes off the animal. Although not necessary, we do a proper "hair trim" to ensure their vision is not restricted without imposing a "number 2" on them with the electric clippers. It's also an ideal time for nail trimming.

The shearing method that we use works for us. Our animals are subjected to minimal stress and our helpers, although putting in a hard day's work, are not overwhelmed with the task.

There are very good alternatives. Russell Gent, a South Island breeder has developed a "shearing table". Using the table, the animal walks alongside the table and is held in place by a crush attached to the table. When secured, the table rotates, securing the alpaca on the table, positioned at comfortable standing height for the shearing team. Russell and many other breeders also prefer the use of blades as an alternative to the conventional shearing plant, which we use. Russell now very successfully markets his "Kiwi ingenuity" to alpaca breeders around the world.  

Since Russell introduced his shearing table, there have been a number of variations developed resulting in the introduction of several alternatives products currently used throughout the industry.

Stock Handling Facilities

The facilities required for handling alpaca range from almost nothing to fairly substantial. Over the past few years, our resident herd has grown from 16 to over 80 alpacas. We believe our farm development has kept pace with this growth and could recommend a similar progression for the new breeder.

As true with many small block holdings, our farm, at the date of acquisition was a bare block consisting of two paddocks, 1 water trough and running water in the other paddock.

Prior to moving our initial herd to our block, we divided the farm into more manageable, smaller paddocks. The running water, previously used by the cattle was fenced to eliminate the "swimming hole" which the alpacas would love to have at their disposal. Each of the smaller paddocks was serviced with a small concrete water trough. The small size is recommended to minimise the temptation for an afternoon swim in the summer.

Mating and general care was easily accomplished in the old cattle yards. Moving from the paddocks was also relatively easy using standards and electric tape (not necessary to liven it). The tape was used primarily to act as a guideline, providing the alpacas with an obvious direction.

Then came lots of cria and our young males were now quite certain what their job was. All went well until a cria accidentally strayed under the tape and mum went off to fetch. Excitement to say the least on the hills of Tutukaka.

Our present facilities include a central building which house us,  the farm stay  and complete handling facilities/yards. Our once small paddocks have been divided again, into even smaller paddocks. Most of the paddocks have natural shade, which we consider essential for Northland summers. We have installed a race connecting the paddocks to our stock yards/building, which has totally eliminated the need to play "catch the cria" as she scampers over the top of the hill.

 Our yards consist of 3 moderate sized areas, which work extremely well for mating. We hold a mob of females in one area, a mob of males in another, and direct the bride and groom to the honeymoon suite, which divides the two groups.

Adjoining the 3 larger yards is a series of 4 small pens and double raceways all under cover. The smaller pens also work well in the event a waiting male gets a bit stroppy with the others. It's a simple matter to direct him into a pen by himself where he settles down. They now know that once in the pen, it's almost their turn!

Central within one of the races is a commercial stock scale to monitor weight throughout the year. Condition can sometimes be deceiving when they have a full fleece. The yards also include plans for a timber floor pen, which we will use for shearing and as a surgery should it be required.

 

Choosing a Mate

 

Most new breeders will purchase their female breeding stock already pregnant. However, there will soon come a time when she "unpacks" and will be ready for "repacking". Selection of an appropriate male to service your female is of the utmost importance.

The male should be selected with the overall goals of your breeding program in mind. Although each individual program has specific variations, we can usually generalise by stating that most breeders desire to reproduce healthy alpacas which are:

Conformationally correct and

Have fine, dense fibre.

The male selection process begins with a critical look at your female. Objectively evaluate your female's good and poor qualities.

Her fibre should be carefully evaluated. Consideration should be given to colour, density, fineness, crimp, coverage, etc. You should enlist the services of an independent testing agency for a precise evaluation. (Cost is less than $5 for independent fibre analysis in New Zealand)

Her conformation should be inspected. Conformation abnormalities can affect more than just her outward appearance. For example, an alpaca with an overshot jaw may have difficulty eating and maintaining her condition. Look for conformation deficiencies, e.g. jaw over/under shot, knock-kneed, short ears, sway backed, etc.

With a) your objectives clearly stated and b) an understanding of possible deficiencies in your female, it's time to find her a partner.

It is generally thought that the male genes are dominant. Deficiencies observed with your female can therefore usually be corrected through selective breeding or mating the appropriate male to your female. Of course, the selection of male partners for those females without deficiencies should be done to enhance the superior qualities of your female through the use of complementary traits of a superior male.

The selection process for a male is somewhat similar to that for the female; however, more data is often available for the male. Carefully examine the male to ensure that he can complement the good female attributes or is likely to correct noted deficiencies. To be considered, males must have good conformation, be even-tempered, free from genetic abnormalities, and excel in the qualities required for your female.

Your evaluation of a prospective male should, where possible, include examination of his progeny.

Sourcing a male to mate with your female can be accomplished via a couple of alternatives.

Purchasing. Reasonable quality males can generally be purchased in New Zealand within a range of say $ 5,000 to $ 15,000. The pricing of males, does however, escalate dramatically for males thought to be of superior quality.  Imports to New Zealand have reportedly cost well in excess of $100,000.

As your female population expands economies of scale may justify the purchase of your own "herd sire". However, for the new breeder, stud services provided by an established breeder might well be a better option.

Stud Service. A number of established breeders now offer stud service. With this type of an arrangement, you pay a fee for the use of a selected male. The actual mating can either be done on your farm, or alternatively, your female is transported to the stud offering the service.

In addition to the services offered by Rocky Bay Alpacas, other breeders have imported very high quality males, which are standing at stud throughout New Zealand. We will be happy to refer you to one of these breeders should your breeding program call for a sire not available at Rocky Bay.

The cost of stud service varies. At present, stud fees generally range between $ 500 and $ 1,500. Pregnancies, and, at Rocky Bay, live birth is guaranteed.

 

Peruvian or Chilean

 

A question which the new breeder will face is deciding whether to breed Peruvian or Chilean alpacas. The few breeders dedicated to their Peruvian stock might not agree with our opinion. However, we should recognize that neither our approach nor the Peruvian purist approach should be considered the "correct" approach. Each new breeder should be aware of the alternatives or combination thereof and structure their own breeding program to that most suitable to their own individual circumstances.

The original importation of alpacas into New Zealand in the 1980's, was, with very few exceptions, sourced from Chile, South America. Hence, the vast majority of New Zealand alpacas are descendents of this original Chilean base.

Some years ago, controls over the export of alpacas from Chile terminated the Chilean source. Australia and the United States then commenced the importation of large numbers of Peruvian alpacas into their respective countries. Initially, New Zealand did not have a protocol in place which permitted us to import from Peru and more importantly, New Zealand breeders did not make an effort to import the Peruvians as did our Australian and American counterparts.

However, within the last couple of years, protocol has been established allowing New Zealand breeders to import Peruvian stock via Australia.

A few New Zealand breeders have purchased both male and female Peruvian stock from Australia, generally as an addition to their established Chilean herd. Additionally, some New Zealand breeders (North & South Island) have established agency agreements with Australian interests whereby the New Zealand agent is selling stock on behalf of the Australian owner.

The addition of Peruvian stock to New Zealand does indeed complement our genetic pool. Some of these animals have exceptional fibre, which will hopefully improve the fibre quality of our established New Zealand herd.

There is of course a cost to pay for the genetic improvements. That cost is two fold. Firstly, for a variety of reasons, Peruvian female alpacas are priced at 2 to 3 times the price of Chilean female alpacas.

The Peruvian breeding program has concentrated on developing a finer, denser white fibre. White is recognised in the commercial sectors as being the most desirable colour - obviously easier to dye and more adaptable to the large scale fashion industry.

This is where your individual breeding program must be seriously evaluated. Only you can make the decision........... Plain vanilla or 22 natural colours !?!

There is however, a compromise position and that chosen by Rocky Bay Alpacas. Accepting and appreciating that the mass commercial alpaca fibre industry is gearing to white, we feel that as a farm, and hopefully as a country, we will carve a niche market providing exceptional quality natural colours.

Our base herd is, coloured, Chilean stock. We  use our coloured herd sires to continue to provide our range of colours. We also  use selected Peruvian sires to add new genetics, with the objective of improving the fineness and density of our herd.

 

Cottage Industry

 

The New Zealand alpaca fibre industry is in its infancy. We've got a long way to go before we bale our annual clip and send it off to the mill and await our cheque. However, in the interim while our industry develops into a full-scale commercially viable proposition, breeders do have the opportunity to earn a reasonable return while continuing to enjoy the farming aspects of alpaca breeding.

 

The New Zealand

Alpaca Fibre Market

Alpaca is considered to be one of the finest fibres in the world.   Its strength is greater than that of merino wool. However, unlike wool, alpaca contains no natural lanolin or oils.

Alpaca can be carded and spun alone or mixed with other fibres such as merino, angora or silk. Spun fibre is usually knitted into sweaters, vests, hats and scarves. The end products are superb.

The soft "handle" of alpaca fibre with its luxurious, soft feel is unsurpassed. Garments made from alpaca fibre exhibit a slippery, silky feel. They do not pill or lose their shape. Lacking lanolin or oils, alpaca garments can be worn by those who are allergic to wool..

Alpaca fibre is considered amongst the finest fibres by the fashion industry along with cashmere and silk. The fibre is often referred to as "the fibre of the Gods".

New Zealand is not, and may never be a competitor in the world alpaca fibre market. Our national herd of less than 8,000 animals has little hope of competing with the millions of animals now in Peru.

In addition to the quantity issue, the labour and processing rates of Peru are vastly below the levels that New Zealanders would be willing to work for.

So why bother. We at Rocky Bay Alpacas are not. While South America supplies the bulk of the world supply, in white, which readily lends itself to dying, we feel our future fibre industry will be based upon high quality, natural colour (non-white) fibres.

While awaiting  New Zealand's entry to the worldwide fibre market, we have identified some of the possibilities for fibre sale and use within the present, developing New Zealand market. Each of these markets should be readily available to the new breeder.

Home use:

Very small breeders and/or small block owners with just a few wethers quite often enjoy spinning and weaving. A few animals will generally be adequate to provide the homespinner with sufficient fibre to produce luxurious garments for the entire family.

Craft Supply:

There is a small, but growing interest amongst the craftspersons to spin and knit alpaca fibre. The fibre is much different from sheep's wool and hence spinning and knitting techniques are not the same. This difference is not welcomed by some craftspeople accustomed to sheep's wool; however, it is a welcomed improvement by many others.

Generally once the craftsperson masters the art, the dramatic superior qualities of alpaca fibre generally create a "convert".

Breeders/alpaca farmers prepared to sell retail to the craft market can expect to realise between $ 35 and $ 70 dollars per kg. For washed and carded fibre, generally sold in 100-gram lots.

Supplying the craft industry requires marketing, processing and packaging. That is, value must be added to the raw fibre to achieve these prices.

Processed Yarns:

World-class processing facilities capable of producing superior quality yarns exist within New Zealand. We have used the services   to process our fibre.

This processing has generally been expensive.

 

Agistment

 

Agistment is an arrangement wherein the alpaca owner enlists the services of the alpaca farmer to provide for the daily care of their animals.

City based and/or absentee investors together with the new breeders/lifestylers just getting started or preparing for the move to the country can arrange for the day to day care of their animals on the Rocky Bay Alpaca farm.

Although the primary rewards and risks of ownership remain with the alpaca owner, your animal will be cared for by the owners/operators of Rocky Bay Alpacas. We provide your stock with:

              A secure, safe, well fenced and watered environment.

Social interaction of your animal with our herd.

Daily observation, ensuring early detection of physical or health problems.

Daily hand feeding, enhancing the alpaca's interaction with humans, and ensuring a close-up observation of the health and fitness

Balanced  nutritional requirements of the alpaca.

Annual, (October/January) shearing, including initial sorting of the fibre.

Scheduled inoculations and vaccinations

Fecal testing and drenching as required.

              Optional halter training if desired.

Your agisted herd, which typically consists of female stock, can continue to grow through the use of one of our AAA registered/certified males. On site mating with our studs is offered to agistment clients at reduced rates.

Your agisted stock, and/or future progeny can be offered for sale on a commission basis by Rocky Bay Alpacas, benefiting from our established advertising and marketing efforts.

Self sufficient, on-site guest accommodation is available for overnight or longer stay visits with your alpacas.

Agistment services are $10 per week per animal. Veterinary services if required are additional.

Wethers

On average, 50% of the crias born each year are males. Of this 50%, a smaller number of the males will be identified as possessing all of the qualities necessary to be considered as stud potential. Established, reputable breeders such as Rocky Bay Alpacas will "cull" the males which do not clearly exhibit the highest level of quality standards necessary for the continued breeding program of ours or other alpaca studs.

Male alpacas, which are not identified as future breeding stock, are gelded. These animals will either remain on the stud as fibre producing stock or are sold to the "pet" market.

As the "baby boomers" retreat from the city to the rural lifestyle, a demand has developed for these friendly, majestic creatures to grace the lifestyle paddocks.

These life-stylers are purchasing wethers for reasons, which range from lawnmowers to a personal supply of fine fibre for home spinning.

There is some fluctuation of wether prices, again based upon a variety of factors. Prices generally approximate $ 400  to $ 1,200. The higher end of the scale is generally in recognition of a wether's fine quality/solid colour fibre. Additionally, a naturally friendly and/or halter trained wether may also fetch prices at the upper end of the scale..