Alpaca and llama farms are becoming more popular in Colorado and many people want to raise and breed them. To get started, you need acreage, barns, and money. It can be expensive to purchase these animals. Once you have a herd, you can start making money by selling the fleece, especially Alpaca fleece. It is prized for it unique silky feel and superb “handle.”
Alpaca fleece is highly desired and is in great demand from home-spinners homes to fashion houses. The fleece is very soft yet strong. There is no oil or lanolin in the fleece, which makes it easier to work with. The unique way in which the scales of the alpaca fiber lie down against the shaft of each hair follicle makes it hypoallergenic. There are 22 colors of alpaca fleece that is recognized by the national alpaca registry so you can have a wide variety of beautiful alpaca products with or without dyeing.
Since the alpaca fleece is in such demand, this would be one of the reasons to consider starting an alpaca or llama farm. You can raise alpacas for their fleece, which is shorn once a year in the spring. You can obtain one to ten pounds of fine alpaca fleece in a year. Their fleece is similar in quality to cashmere and angora. You could also breed the alpacas and sell them.
Llama fleece is categorized into four styles. They are short wool, medium wool, heavy wool, and Suri. Many llamas are double coated. They have a very coarse, outer guard hair, and a very fine undercoat. When you get rid of the guard hair, the fine hair underneath is equal or surpasses the softness of an alpaca’s fleece.
If you are considering raising llamas or alpacas, you should know that they eat less than horses and are easier on the land. The standard recommendation is 5 to 8 alpacas/llamas per acre. The numbers depend on whether you are just feeding pasture or hay. Some farms keep the alpacas and llamas on dry land.
Their main diet is grass hay but some farmers feed them supplements also. One to one and a half 60-pound bales of hay will feed approximately 23 alpacas a day. Llamas are bigger, so you would not be able to feed as many.
The best advice is to visit an alpaca or llama farm to see what they have and to get more information on how much money you need to get started and what buildings you need.