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Thunder River Farm

Suri Alpacas and Tibetan Imperial Yaks

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About Alpacas

HISTORY

The prized alpaca came from the South American Andes mountains. Their fleece was cherished by members of the Incan civilization and was know as 'the fiber of the Gods.' The graceful herds of alpaca roamed the mountainous pastures until the 17th century when the Spanish conquistadors killed a large part of both the Incan and alpaca population, forcing the retreating survivors to see refuge in the high mountain plains known as the Altiplano. The high altitude and harsh conditions ensured that only the hardiest of the alpacas survived and today's alpaca gene pool produces hardy animals with dense high-quality fiber. In 1984, a small group of importers brought the first alpacas to the United States and Canada. They hand selected the high-quality alpacas to import and the alpacas immediately became adored by all.

Peru, Bolivia and Chile are still home to most of the alpacas in the world. Alpacas are a member of the camelid family, which also includes camels, llamas, vicunas and guanacos. They are a ruminant and chew their cud similar to a cow. They have three stomachs and selectively graze, eating pasture grasses and hay as well as mineral supplements. This makes feeding alpacas relatively inexpensive.

There are two different types of alpacas - suri and huacaya. The suri has fiber that grows quite long and forms silky, pencil-like locks. Their fiber has a solid shaft. The huacaya has a shorter, dense crimp-like fleece, giving it a very woolly appearance. Their fiber has a hollow shaft.

 Alpacas have soft padded feet that make them gentle on pastures. They also have no top teeth in the front. The average height of an alpaca is 36 inches at the withers and they weight 100 to 220 pounds. Alpacas are small and gentle and can be easily managed by most people.

Alpacas have a life span of 15 to 20 years generally and have long reproductive lives. An alpaca's gestation period is 11 1/2 months. A baby alpaca is called a cria and usually weighs between 15 and 20 pounds at birth. Alpacas usually have one off spring but can have twins, which is rare.

Alpaca fiber comes in 22 colors that are recognized by the textile industry. Alpacas are shorn for their fleece once a year. Each alpaca produces between four and eight pounds of soft, warm fiber that is made into the most luxurious garments in the world.

Alpacas are a lifestyle and investment available to many from the empty nester to a family with children to a professional looking for a break from a busy career. The common thread to everyone is that they share a common love for animals and a desire to live a more stress-free life. Alpacas meet those qualifications and for families with children, alpacas are so gentle and easy to handle. Owning alpacas allows you to become involved in family-oriented events such as fairs, shows and on-farm activities.

The highly-prized fleece of the alpaca has inspired many to st art home-based businesses, which involve shearing the alpacas and spinning the fiber of their own animals into yarn that can be knitted, crocheted, woven or felted into garments. Others markets their fiber through organized co-ops.

Alpacas require a small amount of acreage compared to other livestock. The average farm is less than 10 acres. Alpacas eat pasture grass and hay and require a small three-sided shelter for a small her d. The size of the herd is up to the individual's goals. Even if you live in the city or suburbs, you can board your animals at an established farm, which gives you time to increase your herd and learn more about these wonderful animals. Then when you are ready, you can move them to your own farm.

Alpaca owners come from all walks of life and share their experiences with each other and also co-own animals together. This mutual support and interest have been the beginning of many life-long relationships. Alpaca farmers are very special people.

Raising and breeding alpacas is a prescription for a healthy, less stressful life.

 


INVESTMENT POTENTIAL

Alpacas  can be depreciated over five years, giving the investor an immediate investment return in tax savings while the herd is growing. As you raise alpacas as a business, all expenses (food, veterinarian, supplies, computers, travel, tractors, showing, advertising, etc.) are tax deductible. For more information about the financial aspects of alpaca ownership, please consult your financial advisor and investigate Section 179 of the tax code, which allows you to write off well over $100,000 in earned income utilizing your alpaca income and expenses.

Alpacas are not inexpensive, ranging from $2,500 to $20,000+ for  breeding females and $5,000 to $25,000+ for high-quality males. Pet quality animals are also available for under $1,500. High-quality proven males with exceptional offspring have sold in excess of $250,000. In many instances, financing your alpaca purchase can be done right on the farm as many alpaca breeders offer financing.

The alpaca herd grows at a limited rate, which helps keep the supply and demand in balance.

1. Gestation periods are approximately 11 1/2 months with single births.

2. The Alpaca Owners Association offers fully blood-typed protection and has been closed since 1998 to any newly imported animals.

3. Mass production techniques such as embryo transfer and artificial insemination are difficult, if not impossible due to the physical characteristics of the alpaca. More importantly, the Alpaca Owners Association will not recognize any animals that are not produced naturally.

Adding to the overall investment picture is the fact that alpacas are inexpensive to raise, require small acreage and are very hardy animals. Alpacas can be easily raised in all areas of the  country. Alpacas are friendly, trainable yet hard and tough and are an investment that you can hug!

The Alpaca Owners Association (AOA) offers fully blood-typed protection to all alpaca owners. The registry has been closed since 1998 to any new imported animals. It is very important for investors of alpacas to purchase only AOA registered alpacas. You will not be able to register offspring unless both of their parents are currently registered.

Updated April 14, 2016