Exploration - The White Co-operative
Every proposition by the white must always be treated with respect. As mentioned before, a very old gentleman once told me, during the great chieftains' meeting, that keeping alpacas are the way to go in starting a farm proper.
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.
Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fiber. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, and sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.
Females are "induced ovulators"; the act of mating and the presence of semen causes them to ovulate. Females usually conceive after just one breeding, but occasionally do have troubles conceiving. Artificial insemination is technically difficult, but it can be accomplished. A male is usually ready to mate for the first time between one and three years of age. A female alpaca may fully mature (physically and mentally) between 12 and 24 months. It is not advisable to allow a young female to be bred until she is mature, as over-breeding a young female, before conception is possible, is a common cause of uterine infections. As the age of maturation varies greatly between individuals, it is usually recommended that novice breeders wait until females are 18 months of age or older before initiating breeding.
The gestation period is 345 ± 15 days, and usually results in a single offspring, or cria. Twins are rare, occurring about once per 1000 deliveries. After a female gives birth, she is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks. Crias may be weaned through human intervention at about six months old and 60 pounds, but many breeders prefer to allow the female to decide when to wean her offspring; they can be weaned earlier or later depending on their size and emotional maturity.
Alpacas can live for up to 20 years.
The price for American alpacas can range from US$50 for a castrated male (gelding) to US$500,000 for the highest of champions in the world, depending on breeding history, sex, and color. According to an academic study, though, the higher prices sought for alpaca breeding stock are largely speculative and not supported by market fundamentals, given the low inherent returns per head from the main end product, alpaca fiber, and prices into the $100s per head rather than $10,000s would be required for a commercially viable fiber production herd. Breeding stock prices in Australia have fallen from A$10,000–30,000 head in 1997 to an average of A$3,000–4,000 today.
It is possible to raise up to 25 alpacas per hectare (10 alpacas per acre), as they have a designated area for waste products and keep their eating area away from their waste area, but this ratio differs from country to country and is highly dependent on the quality of pasture available (in many desert locations it is generally only possible to run one to three animals per acre due to lack of suitable vagetation). Fiber quality is the primary variant in the price achieved for alpaca wool; in Australia, it is common to classify the fiber by the thickness of the individual hairs and by the amount of vegetable matter contained in the supplied shearings.
Alpacas need to eat 1-2% of body weight per day, so about two 60 lb (27 kg) bales of grass hay per month per animal. When formulating a proper diet for alpacas, water and hay analysis should be performed to determine the proper vitamin and mineral supplementation program. Two options are to provide free choice salt/mineral powder, or feed a specially formulated ration. Indigenous to the highest regions of the Andes, this harsh environment has created an extremely hardy animal, so only minimal housing and predator fencing are needed. The alpaca’s three-chambered stomachs allow for extremely efficient digestion. There are no viable seeds in the manure, because alpacas prefer to only eat tender plant leaves, and will not consume thick plant stems; therefore, alpaca manure does not need composting to enrich pastures or ornamental landscaping. Nail and teeth trimming is needed every six to 12 months, along with annual shearing. Similar to ruminants, such as cattle and sheep, alpacas have only lower teeth at the front of their mouths; therefore, they do not pull grass up by the roots. Rotating pastures is still important, though, as alpacas have a tendency to regraze an area repeatedly. Alpacas are fiber-producing animals; they do not need to be slaughtered to reap their product, and their fiber is a renewable resource that grows yearly.
The start-up cost for keeping alpacas is low compared to cattle. Also alpacas are very friendly. They make great companions as compared to man. Loyal and dependable.
This exploration is worth the time and considerations. Let's see how far this idea will stick in my mind ...