Alpacas are the smaller cousin of the llama. Commonly raised for their wool and as pets. They are not as pricey as they were just a few years ago, in fact they can now be found free. The alpaca industry is now another victim of the recession.
The alpaca looks very much like a small version of a llama. They have smaller refined features and are only one quarter the size of a llama. Like the llama, the alpaca has been domesticated for thousands of years. They are not found as wild animals. There are 2 variates, the Suri and the Huacaya, each defined as having different and distinct coat types. They were known as the expensive, exotic, backyard pet.
At one time, alpacas were extremely pricey. It was rare to find an alpaca under $5K. Times have changed. In the last several years it is not surprising to find a male fiber alpaca listed under $500 on Craigslist and often find a free one listed on there or in the local newspaper. Most of the lower priced alpacas will be males and they are often neutered. Females still hold their value as breeding animals and it is rare to find one listed under $1K but their prices have been dropping as well. What happened? The recession happened.
I went to a regional Alpaca sale and show only 2 years ago in Albany, Oregon and I talked to a few of the breeders at the event. At that time the recession was just beginning and most of the breeders thought that the alpaca breeding business would stay strong and not be affected very much by the recession, but they were wrong. Since the demand for alpaca fiber has dropped dramatically since the beginning of the recession the price of the animals has also dropped. No longer are people willing or can afford to spend a few thousand hard earned dollars on an alpaca as a breeding animal much less a pet.
Those breeders who were involved with the alpaca for strictly a money making venture are now trimming their herds, not breeding as much as they use to and some of them are quitting the breeding business altogether. I first saw that happening with llama breeders about 3 years ago, with many of them actually giving away their animals. I knew back then that the alpaca breeders would not be far behind.
So If you are looking for an unusual pet, don’t mind dealing with shearing and have acreage, investigate the possibility of adding an alpaca to your family. Don’t plan on making any money from the alpaca in the near future. You can find out more at alpacinfo.com which is the official website of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association.