John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpacas as a Commercial Operation

Alpacas will become a viable option for commercial farming operations within the next few years. The current breeder's market is showing some signs of transition already. Prices for low to average quality breeding stock have declined significantly from the highs of just a few years ago, and the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association has put new emphasis on the development of a serious fiber industry.

The current breeder's market in the alpaca industry creates the illusion that a commercial alpaca farming operation is not viable. National herd growth projections suggest that pro-active farmer might want to enter the industry now.

While prices for ARI registered alpacas remain fairly high, there is evidence of significant numbers of non-registered alpacas in the US. These numbers are, by their very nature, difficult or impossible to track. Also, Canadian registered alpacas, which can move freely into the United States, can sell for significantly less than ARI registered alpacas.

A commercial alpaca operation is unlikely to run an entire herd of registered livestock. A few top quality breeding animals are probably all that require registration. Production animals will be judged on their production qualities, not on their pedigree.

Those exploring the creation of a commercial alpaca herd at this point in time should carefully examine outlets for product. Will they sell raw alpaca fleece on the open market, or will they be involved in some level of valued added processing? Will sales of live animals be a part of their business model? Can they develop markets for manure or other byproducts?

Forward thinking operators taking action now will be well placed to succeed in the emerging alpaca industry. By establishing markets now, in conjunction with building a commercial alpaca herd, they will be a step ahead of those who cling to the belief that the breeder's market will last indefinitely.

If you are interested in pursuing alpacas as part of a commercial operation, contact us. We will work with you to locate and purchase alpacas of a quality that is consistent with your goals.

 
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"He was a big man; his features and even his ample moustache gave a disconcerting impression of rugged integrity,and I remember him chiefly in an alpaca or seersucker coat. Though much less formal, more democratic -- in a word -- than my father, I stood in awe of him for a different reason, and this I know now was because he possessed the penetration to discern the flaws in my youthful character..."

Winston Churchill
A FAR COUNTRY
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