Alpaca Values

An alpaca rancher with a small herd on a small acreage can expect to harvest his animals’ fleeces and sell their offspring. The value of alpaca fleece and finished products made from that fleece is the economic underpinning of the future market for alpacas. Domestic fiber is often sold to cottage industries that revolve around hand spinning and weaving. Each animal will produce around three to six pounds of fleece a year. Alpaca ranchers sell their fleece in a variety of ways including raw fiber, washed and carded fiber, yarns, and finished products. Profits or fiber production vary based on each farm’s model for fiber sales.

Female alpacas usually begin breeding at around 18 months of age, while most males can successfully impregnate (or “settle”) a female at about three years. The females produce one baby per year (twins are uncommon) during a reproductive life of about 10-12 years.

Factors that influence individual alpaca prices include color, conformation, fleece quality and quantity, age, and gender. Females sell for more money on average than males, but herd sire quality males have historically commanded the highest individual prices. Breeders often prefer one alpaca color to another, however the parents’ color does not necessarily guarantee a cria (baby) of the same color. There are many accepted theories regarding alpaca color heritability, and more research is needed to further our understanding of this issue. Of more importance to most breeders is the overall physical soundness, or “conformation” of the animal. In addition to color, fleece, density, uniformity, fineness, luster and staple length will also affect value. Well-conformed alpacas with superior fleece characteristics sell for higher prices.

Green Mtn Alpaca Fall Spectacular

Many breeders start with several breeding age females and perhaps one male. Other new breeders may elect to start with several young animals or a breeding pair. There is an approach suitable for your level of interest and financial position.