A couple of years ago, Shepherd developed an interest in Alpacas. He decided he would like to own one. So we researched online. Along with finding Alpaca prices in the low thousands, which caused Shepherd great disappointment, we found an excellent expose of the US Alpaca industry in 2005 titled, “Alpaca Lies? Do Alpacas Represent the Latest Speculative Bubble in Agriculture?”
The US Alpaca industry was indeed a bubble ready to burst. The authors wrote a follow-up article in 2012. If you are interested in economic bubbles, you’ll want to check out these articles.
After reading the first article I suggested we wait to buy Alpacas. Shepherd also didn’t have near-enough money saved. He was disappointed but we came up with a plan to save his earnings from showpigs to buy Alpacas. Using the data available to us we calculated it could take three years.
However, in the spring I saw an ad for Alpacas in our local “Shopping News.” The owner had a herd numbering in the dozens. She was no longer breeding them. She was willing to let us take two young males for $75 each. Shepherd thinks we got a good price because she likes us. That’s true, but if you show up with cash money I’m betting she’ll like you too.
We took them home and spent some time with them. They are a fun animal. Not much heavier than our dairy goats, they’re light eaters. They’re not as social as goats, but they’re not very wild. They spent the summer grazing with the cattle and did fine.
In June we paid a guy thirty bucks to shear them. This needs to be done once per year. We haven’t done anything with the fiber, but it’s unlikely we’ll make enough to cover their annual costs, so we’re sticking with just two Alpacas and calling them pets.