There are as many reasons to raise alpacas as there are alpaca owners. We each make this decision based on a whole host of personal needs and history. Some of the most often cited reasons for considering alpaca ownership include the tremendous business opportunity, a love of luxury fiber, a desire for a rural lifestyle, the desire to show animals, and simple companionship and community.
Alpacas have a gentle beauty and mystique that’s hard to deny. Domesticated for over 6,000 years, they’re the oldest domesticated livestock. Producers of the fiber of the gods, sole property of the Incan rulers, they were nearly driven to extinction by the Spanish conquistadors. Until 1993, they were classified as a national treasure in Peru and export of live alpacas was illegal.
Now in North American, alpacas continue to transfix us. Long elegant necks, large eyes, gentle humming, rich colors, bright whites, gorgeous fiber, and playful antics all make them irresistible to those of us who catch the “alpaca bug.” In addition, their ease of maintenance and low impact on the environment makes it possible to raise them on small acreage with little previous livestock experience and restores the hope for many of a viable family farm.
The potential markets for an animal with the characteristics of the alpaca are vast. Alpacas are loved by their owners and respected by those who process or wear products made from their fleece.