How keeping alpacas can help you diversify and monetise your land11/01/21
Whether you think alpacas are cute and cuddly or decidedly odd-looking, there is no denying that these soft-fleeced creatures are becoming increasingly popular.
If you’re looking at ways to diversify your land for monetary gain, alpacas can be a great source of revenue.
With any herd animal, buying and keeping alpacas is a long-term commitment. At least two alpacas should be acquired at first. Alpacas are very sensitive herd animals and will get distressed if they are separated from another alpaca. Otherwise, alpacas practically pay for their own upkeep, meaning more profit for you.
Here are some of the most popular ways in which alpacas can boost your income and existing assets:
Alpacas are easy to maintain and look after
Alpacas are hardy animals, and largely look after themselves, meaning less time and expense needs to be invested on them.
They mainly feed on grass, but may need additional hay during the leaner winter months. They will happily huddle together under a wooden shelter when the weather turns bad.
Conveniently, alpacas will also only defecate in one place in their field, making field maintenance easy and less time consuming, as well as gaining organic manure to use on your land or sell in the process.
Sell alpacas through breeding
It’s no secret that alpacas fetch a high price. While the initial purchase of a female alpaca isn’t cheap, they can easily produce a quick return on investment as the herd capacity will double each year through breeding.
Female alpacas have evolved to get pregnant again not long after their baby (cria) is born. Female alpacas are often sold pregnant, so you can be buying two for the price of one. Then, once old enough, the young alpaca can be sold for a healthy profit.
If uncastrated males are kept, these can also be hired each year to other alpaca breeders, as there is always a constant yearly demand for male alpacas to sire the next generation.
For a more cost-effective initial investment, rehoming unwanted alpacas can either be a free or much less costly option to start your herd.
Alpaca fleece is valuable
Alpaca wool is famed for its extremely soft and hypo-allergenic qualities. With so many colours of alpacas (ranging from white to cream, grey, brown and black), alpaca wool naturally comes in an array of 22 colours, without needing to be dyed or processed first.
A herd needs shearing once a year, and this valuable fleece can be sold by the kilo, or for a further venture this can be turned into wool to then be sold as balls of wool, or crafted into knitted products, such as socks, scarves and other items to sell.
They make perfect guard animals
Whilst they will never take the place of a trusty guard dog, alpacas can be an ideal natural solution for keeping pests at bay. If you have poultry, or even during lambing season, alpacas are adept at chasing away potential predators, including foxes. Alpacas will therefore keep your existing and the next generation of livestock safe, maximising your yields and profits.
Alpaca walking is hugely popular
The unusual activity of alpaca walking has become increasingly popular across the UK; from couples to families to larger groups all wanting to give it a try. Training your alpacas for walking will help them pay for themselves, as well as being a good opportunity to use more of your land, especially if it is situated in a natural beauty spot.
Selling alpaca wool and products to these visitors, or even converting them into alpaca owners and selling them their first alpacas, are also great ways to generate extra income.
Alpacas help to maintain the land
Alpacas don’t need a great deal of land set aside for them. Up to 10 alpacas can live on a single acre of land, and as alpacas only crop the top of the grass, without damaging the root, the field will continue to replenish itself even as they graze, meaning field rotation is less of an issue than with other grazing animals.
Alpacas also have soft, two-toed feet, meaning they are lighter and less likely to churn up the field, especially in winter. This means they don’t use as much land as other hooved animals.