A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 24, 2007

Alpaca Farming on a Budget – Part 4

Regent and Ma Cushla at the Cabin  There are many ways you can reduce some of your costs for your alpaca farm, it may mean you don’t have the prettiest hay feeder or the fanciest barn, but by shopping around and being creative you can come up with some good alternatives.

Some equipment you can make yourself and save costs in the process.  It’s not that difficult, for instance, to make your own hay feeder or you can use large multipurpose plastic tubs that make nice hay containers both at home and at shows.  We like to use garden wagons for hay feeders (the ones that have the rigid mesh sides), they can be moved around from pasture to pasture or put inside a shelter when the weather is bad.  So you can see that while a custom designed alpaca hay feeder may be nice, there are alternatives available that serve the same purpose but are less expensive.

Sharing equipment with other farms is another way to help reduce your costs.  We co-own our shearing equipment, tooth trimmer and microchip reader, all items that we need but that can easily be shared with other farms.

Alpaca shows are great marketing and networking opportunities, but the costs can soon mount up.  By joining together with other nearby farms to share transportation, stalls and display space you can reduce your expenses.  Host hotels are usually offered at alpaca shows but it has been my experience that you can get a better price on your hotel by searching the Internet for deals or by using services such as Priceline and Hotwire.  When traveling to shows that require more than one days travel we usually try and stay at a KOA that has camping cabins, there we can park our trailer next to the cabin and keep a close eye on our alpacas.  We have always found the KOA campgrounds to be clean, well run and reasonable, and when you walk your alpacas around the campground it is a great marketing opportunity.   Just make sure you check in with the campground manager first to ensure that he or she is comfortable with having alpacas on the campground  (The picture at the top of this blog was taken when we were staying at a KOA on the way to an alpaca show in Estes Park, Colorado –the two alpacas in the picture are our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent and our grey female Enchantment’s Ma Cushla Liath, both of whom were just juveniles at the time)

There are some areas where you really cannot cut corners, a good set of scales, your veterinary care and your hay and feed are some of those areas where you need to provide your alpacas with only the best.    Herd sires are another area where it does not pay to cut corners, the alpaca market is so competitive these days that you need to make sure that any male you select to breed your females to has a strong chance of producing a cria that is an improvement on it’s parents. 

If you are an alpaca breeder on a budget you may be tempted not to insure your alpacas, but that is also one area where I would not recommend cutting corners.  The cost of alpaca insurance is reasonable as insurance goes and if you have a significant amount of money invested in your alpacas then it is worth protecting your investment by purchasing insurance on your alpacas, at least until they have paid for themselves either in stud fees or by the sales of offspring they have produced.

Alpaca breeders are some of the friendliest people in the world and the majority are more than willing to share tips and experiences, talk to other alpaca breeders about how they keep their costs down and most likely during the course of the conversation an idea will come up that you can try on your farm at home.

To have an alpaca farm on a budget is not impossible and of course as you become successful with your alpaca business hopefully your budget will have a little more leeway in it.    Like anything else done on a budget, establishing a successful alpaca farm on a budget takes hard work and ingenuity, but along with that hard work comes a lot of joy and the chance to spend part of your life with some unique, beautiful creatures who in time will more than pay you back for your hard work and efforts.


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