The profitability of the alpaca is on all lips. From a recent survey I conducted, 75% of people with start-up interests in alpaca are questioning the profitability of such activity.
Profitability is very real for some breeders, but others have taken a little more tortuous paths and sunk. To prevent errors from being repeated and for animal welfare, here are 3 scenarios to avoid in alpaca!
1. Breeding forpet and low end animals
Alpaca has a male and female birth rate of 50-50. That is, on average, it is born as many males as females in a herd.
We really need only a few herdsire male in a breeding to breed females and avoid inbreeding. In a problem of improvement, the males of less good quality have always been left behind.
Before the slaughter began to be a little more use in Quebec, the unwanted alpacas by the breeders were sold as a pet to small farmhouses.
Very quickly, seeing an opportunity, people have embarked on intensive reproduction almost only to satisfy this demand. We have seen the birth of alpaca factories. In these places, alpacas are not selected and mated to improve their quality (or even keep it), but simply mated to grow a herd in order to have more individuals of different colors to sell.
The flaws of this type of project are multiple. In addition to being a model that is not profitable (especially in 2017!), it is far from ethical.
First, it must be understood that the alpaca reproduces themself slowly and that the only one cria that a female will be born every summer costs much more to the breeder than could have been other animal types. Thus, when an alpaca as a pet sells about $500 to $1000, it will have cost at least $250 to the breeder to take care of the mother for the year of gestation and the same for each additional year of life of the young animal.
The cria takes six months before being weaned. Thus, at 1 year of life, if the animal has not been sold, the profits are void with a sale price of $500... and it does not sell as much alpaca as dogs and cats!
It is to be noted that in this simple calculation, there is no question of reimbursement of the costs of buildings or veterinary costs... and even less the time required to care for animals. It is therefore virtually impossible, given the price of a low-end alpaca, to be profitable with these kinds of activities.
Then taking possession of an alpaca is much more complex for the buyer than a dog or a cat. This makes the alpaca market as a pet much less big and profitable for those who would like to get in there!
You have to be in an agricultural zone to have an alpaca (which is legally a farm animal) or have a mini-farm right in the home zoning. In addition, the alpaca requires fencing and many more facilities than a dog, which further increases disbursements to acquire such an animal.
The alpacas for sale as a pet are also increasingly numerous on the classifieds sites. The majority of middle-class alpacas breeders who do selective breeding and do not slaughter have a lot to sell... even more than it is possible to sell each year in the petmarket , anyway...
Finally, from an ethical point of view, alpaca is often misunderstood by new owners who have no knowledge of the animal or outside help to keep them under decent conditions and meet their basic needs. Because alpaca is still unknown, few resources and external services exist at this time.
Breeders who sell alpacas as pets generally do not offer after-sales service. They themselves may be more inclined, unfortunately, to offer the minimum in terms of care to their alpacas in order to make the most money with their activities.
2. Breeding for raw fibre
There are people who go into the alpaca with the idea in mind that the fiber that grows on the back of these animals is gold bar. They see the price of the items knitted in a shop or in a fair and it motivates them to start in the breeding...
Unfortunately, they forgot that the knitting they see in store is a series of various manipulations and a lot of work.
Spinning adds a lot of value to the fiber and the yarn transformation also produces it. It is mainly this work that increases the value of the toque or the alpaca scarf!
Raw, alpaca fiber is often worth 3x nothing versus the actual work it represents in animal care and annual costs. Although having a higher value than sheep's wool due to its qualities, the value of a fleece sold raw does not usually allow to repay all expenses related to the animal that carried it and even less time for care.
The selling price of the raw fibre is often calculated at pound. The price depends very much on the manipulations that have been made on the fiber, the part of the animal sold (fleece or 1st quality, 2nd quality, 3rd quality...), the grade of the fibre, its general quality and the storage (condition and time of storage).
Currently, the prices given for the raw alpaca fibre often pay barely the rate of shearing annually by a professional shearer!
3. Livestock for sale of animals only
I have already been told the anecdote of a visitor. He had been told of a foetus of aborted cria that he was "worth" a lot; the myths give us a hard life!
At one time, I was saying how much my animals had cost me at everyone, simply to make people understand that my business was serious and was not just a weekend activity for me.
When I was talking about the price of my animals or Americans animals that sold up to 1/2 million, I was always entitled to round eyes and some respect afterwards.
Now, I mention less often this kind of anecdote... because I realized that in the minds of some people, it helps to reinforce the myth that alpaca is an investment like any trading transaction! As if every newborn baby already had a very specific value because it came from a certain womb!
There is a real difference between:
1. Make financial investments and wait for money to fruits by itself.
2. Invest in your business (animals, infrastructure...) to be able to have what it takes to work properly and to achieve profitability and profits more easily.
The uterus, genetics and the lottery; An excellent calculation to establish the possible profitability
I like to give this calculation as an example to explain the possible profitability of a female alpaca by reproduction...
A breeding female of a quality and value of $10 000 coupled to a male of a higher quality and value should, with a little luck, give a baby the value of the female. On the other hand, to achieve this, cria must demonstrate a superior quality to her mother as she grows up (in an approach where the overall quality of alpacas in Canada improves from year to year).
Nature is what it is and since genetics is not an exact science, Cria may not have won the lottery of life in terms of quality despite the value of his parents;
It may also be that the mother was ill during her pregnancy and did not make the pregnancy so fruitful. In the early months of life, Cria may also not develop properly due to illness, stress or poor diet. It is also a quality that some animals have to be more consistent in the distribution of their best genetic potential to their cria... this is not the case of all females and all males!
So... how many pregnancies must have a female to make perfection this superior quality of herself so that a cria actually has its reproductive value?...
There is a job behind the initial investment of the mother's purchase. We bought an animal, not actions that multiply by themselves!
But what happens if I buy a female to reproduce at $1000? $2000? There are the same risks that this female does not have a cria of its value. The only difference is that you play with smaller amounts. In my opinion, these amounts are insufficient to access the profitability of a company, especially if the objective is the resale of animals only. I explain...
The only sale of an animal at $2000, compared to $10 000, covers more difficult the care costs of the mother and the rest of her unsold offspring during all these years of trial-error, making the return on investment rather low, even Nonexistent. With low-end and mid-range animals more numerous than elite and high-end animals, the price war is also more present, making resale more difficult. I am not saying that it is necessarily easy to sell more expensive animals, but the value of profit is much more in keeping with spending and makes it easier to achieve profitability.
In my opinion, animals with a few thousand dollars have no interest but to transform the fibre, if it is still of quality. On the other hand, a better quality animal could do the job even more profitable for the production of fibre in addition to being better subjects for the resale of animals... so... you understand why I strongly suggest paying for the best possible quality at startup?
A fluctuating market like any other...
The sale of animals has also declined over the past few years; It is difficult to know the precise reason for this change, but I bet the value of the Canadian dollar is not foreign to this phenomenon!
In the years 2000, the sale of alpacas had the wind in the sails. The Breeders of Western Canada then bet everything on the animals, very little for alpaca fiber transformation. The export to the United States of double-recording alpacas had reached a climax and allowed Canadian breeders to live well only in the breeding of their animals.
Today, many of these breeders have closed their doors. The price of animals has gone down a bit around the world. Thus, the excellent breeders (high-end and elite), for example, does not seem to really have lost much of their value (they are always wanted to improve the herds), but the average and low-end animals are no longer worth as much because it There's more and more on the market!