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Selecting an Alpaca

There are alpacas to suit everyone. Whether you want pets or a hobby, or plan to invest in a business as an alpaca farmer, sourcing an alpaca is as close as clicking the “contact us” button. However we do need to know which of the above is your preferred option. Whatever you choose, bear in mind that you must have at least 2 alpacas, experience having shown us that a minimum of three is preferable. This is because alpacas are herd-oriented animals and their psychology demands the company of other alpacas for their mental and physical well-being. How this duo or trio of friends is made up is a matter of personal preference, goals or budget.

Alpacas as Pets

fs_Bandit_Aug2011Pets, at this time, almost always refers to wethers (castrated males), although occasionally an infertile female may be sold as a pet. Most wethers are available for purchase from 6 months old and price is dependent on age, conformation and fleece quality. An animal that is halter-trained and easy to handle may have this reflected in their price as well. Prices for these animals range between $400-$500+ GST. Wethers, or pets, are ideal for those on a limited budget or for those not able to make the time commitment required for breeding animals. Remember, alpacas are the easiest of all livestock to own, and the ease of keeping them quickly makes up for the initial cost of buying them. If you own a lifestyle property and want stock that requires a minimum of care, then wethers make sociable pets and are a delight to own as they are intelligent, inquisitive and willing to integrate into your lifestyle. If you buy from The Alpaca Place, you can have confidence your alpacas are easy to handle and care for, and we will ensure you have all the knowledge needed to care for your stock. Additionally, they generate an annual return from their fleece and if you are a keen gardener alpaca droppings can be composted readily. Call us today to ensure you have a lifestyle, not a life sentence!

Registered or unregistered?

Generally speaking, you will get more backup service when you buy from a Registered Breeder, who is an active member of the Alpaca Association NZ (AANZ). However, the standard of backup service you receive may vary widely, and we recommend you visit the alpaca stud and discuss with the sellers how much after sales backup you will receive, before choosing who you will buy from. If you are buying pets, you should be looking for friendly alpacas that are halter trained, so you can manage them easily. If you plan to breed your alpacas, you should be looking for registered females , preferably  DNA parent verified (this increases their value and assures you their pedigree is accurate), who are easily handled and preferably halter-trained. (Halter-training helps ensure your alpaca is used to being handled by people). Pedigree matters! Discuss the pedigree of your prospective purchase with the seller – they should be able to give you a lot of information about the ancestry of the alpaca, which will have a lot of bearing on the quality of its offspring.

If you do not intend to breed your alpacas, whether you have registered or unregistered is of little importance. Most wethers (castrated males) are not registered (and if you buy entire males as pets, we strongly recommend you have them wethered as soon as possible. However, if you want your pets to also provide you with a good quality fleece so you can use it for handcrafts, it is usually better to purchase from a Registered Breeder as they are more likely to have pets with better fleeces available.

However, if you intend to breed your alpacas, even if you only want pets, it is better to purchase registered alpacas, become a registered breeder yourself, and at least register your female offspring.

Registration protects your alpacas! While you may intend to spend many years on your rural property, there is always the unexpected that may force you to change your plans (illness, death, change of career) and move back to the city. It can be extremely difficult to rehome unregistered alpacas, even if you are prepared to give them away, and many of these unfortunate animals meet an untimely end when they are butchered or euthanized – not what you want for your beloved pet. However, registered females will nearly always find a home with other registered breeders, if the price is right.

Unregistered, wethered alpacas can usually be rehomed if they are quiet, friendly and halter-trained. Unregistered, entire (uncastrated) males are nearly impossible to rehome – why we recommend you wether your pet males as soon as possible.

Alpacas for Hobby Breeders

For people who have a slightly larger area available, can make the necessary time commitments and can expand their budget a little more, hobby breeding may be the way to go. Hobby breeding involves having a small number of breeding females with the intention of selling surplus stock. Generally most hobby breeders begin with a minimum number of adult animals and “starting packages” dependent on budget, availability, and the purchaser’s preferred options. Bearing in mind that two is the minimum quantity, these options include purchase of one or more “3-in-1” packages (pregnant female with a cria), a “3-in-1” plus a wether, or a “3-in-1” package with another breeding or pregnant female. Classic 911P

Alpacas as a business

If you are looking at investing in a business you must be prepared to make a significant  investment  for the animals alone. This is a specialised option and you should research the viability very carefully involving your financial planner and other business advisors. Plan on only investing in quality animals on a long term basis.