John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpacas as a Means to Diversification

Alpacas may serve as a means of diversification for an existing farm or ranch with a longer term vision and plan. In addition to the shorter term income opportunities offered by the current breeder's market, this approach could put one on the ground floor of future opportunities, including an expanded fiber market, consumption and hides.

There is no denying that the current alpaca industry in the United States is a "breeder's market". Nor is there any denying that this will not be sustainable over the long term. Projections of the national alpaca herd size suggest exponential growth over the next 20 years.

Agricultural operations looking to diversify may want to take advantage of these projections. It is likely that new markets will open for a variety of alpaca products. Besides fiber and live animal sales, we will probably see a market for consumption animals and hides.

Alpacas can do remarkably well on marginal forage lands. For this reason they are a perfect solution to a diversified livestock operation on land of varying quality.

Owners of existing agricultural operations have the advantage of livestock experience that many alpaca owners in the current marketplace lack. Most livestock experience and knowledge is directly transferable to alpacas, including breeding, general husbandry, and such. In addition, most farm and ranch owners are very aware of economic issues and choices that effect the bottom line.

Those wishing to use alpacas as a means of diversification have several options open. They may choose to enter the current breeder's market in order to generate short term profits while building a herd with which to take advantage of future opportunities. Alternately, they may wish to establish a herd of fiber quality animals now, while investing in processing equipment to create an on site value added operation.

Those diversifying their operations with alpacas would be well advised to purchase animals with an eye to future production qualities. As any experience rancher knows, what wins in the ring is not necessarily the same thing that puts money in the bank. Production qualities will include such factors as fleece yield and quality, general hardiness of the line, reproductive soundness, growth rates, maturity rates and animal weight.

If you are interested in pursuing alpacas as part of a diversification program, 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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"There were three species of this genus in Peru, the llama, alpaca, and vicuna. These domesticated and constituted what the Spaniards in their first reports called sheep..."

- Emory Allen
The Prehistoric World; or, Vanished races
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