Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sheep, Llamas and Alpaca

Sheep



If you are considering starting a sheep farm, please do so only for lamb production. The wool market is so poor that most sheep owners burn the wool after their annual sheering. Sheep aren’t as easy to keep as goats, nor are they as intelligent. They are more submissive. Get a sheep on its back and it pretty much stays there. It is much easier to remove one goat from a herd than it is a sheep. They really stick together. Seeing a sheep in the pasture is much better than the reality of it.

There are some cool varieties of sheep. My favorite is the Jacobs, (pictured above) which can have four or six horns. They often have a spotted fleece as well.


Llamas

I have yet to see why anyone would want one. They do make good guard animals for sheep and goats. They are tall and that will frighten coyotes away. Maybe they can be eaten or something, but other than that all I can say is “WTF?”


Alpacas

This is the newest animal to join the ranks of a multi-level marketing scheme. Yes they look like delicate llamas and their fleece is soft and wonderful, but paying over $10,000 (some go for 50K+) for an animal who has minimal amounts of fleece with a fiber that has no memory, just doesn’t make sense to me. Alpaca have a very long gestation period as do llamas. The high price is paid because they are relatively new to this continent. Please don’t buy one because you think you’ll make big money as a breeder. Back in the late 70s llamas were going for high prices, ten or twenty thousand each, but once they got established the price dropped dramatically. Now people give them away. I can’t tell you how many llamas I’ve turned down. This too will happen with alpacas.

One positive thing about alpaca ownership is that the alpaca farmers have one hell of a co-op. They process and market alpaca wool. They keep it all special and they also keep the prices on the animals high. This animal pricing will not last for ever. There will soon be a glut and the market will fall, hence my calling it a multi-level marketing scheme. Those at the bottom of the pyramid will male all the money and those at the top will lose the most.

Alpacas are nice animals, but…

8 Comments:

Blogger LeLo in NoPo said...

Oh, look at that alpaca face. What's not to love about that? In fact, it looks somewhat similar to my little fluffy white dog....see? I'd be the perfect person to try to sell an alpaca to. Except for the fact that I live in a city.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm not quite sure why I'm reading these pieces. I am definitely not an agro kind of person. But, hey, I'm learning stuff...
(And your bit on the llamas was amusing.)

1:53 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yes, Lelo, Wink does look like a small alpaca, and I'm sure he has a better disposition.

Beth, I don't mean to be preachy, but if eat and wear clothing and live in a wooden house, you are into agro, for better or worse. It is important to know where the food you eat comes from. BTW there was another case of BSE detected in Alberta this week, which is exactly why it's a good idea to know where your food comes from.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

First Amway, now alpacas.

We moved from Butte County and there were more llamas there than you could shake a harness at. They literally have been giving them away there for years.

Remember the craze with those big Emus or Ostriches or something for their meat?

My hubby likes to say, "You can't cheat an honest man."

7:40 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

So true Mo3 on the hubby remark. Also, I had totally forgotten about that ostrich thing that happened a few years back. They never did catch on.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Auntie L said...

Hey, that sheep with the 6 horns look at bit like Anton Lavey. Creepy.

11:04 AM  
Blogger The FurBelow Alpaca Farmer said...

Very interesdting your comments,
however those at the top have already made a killing and continue to do so. Not only that
the animals require minimal care, and minimal food and are very easy to clean up after. They also require very little land useage.

And to top it off with current Alpaca fiber prices in the $50-60 a pound range for RAW unprocessed fiber, and with many alpacas yielding 8-12 pounds a year its a no brainer. Especially since Alpcas
are considered by the IRS as livestock and the purchase of Alpacas is considered a capital expenditure. So in case you can't firgure out what this means.

If I were a CPA making 200K a year doing taxes, If I spent 200K puchasing Alpacas my net income is 0! So instead of paying 50K in taxes I pay nothing! So in the meantime while my alpacas are reproducing, I am always increasing my fiber production,
which once I learn how to process the raw fiber into yarn and produce sweaters, sox, gloves and what not, it will well be worth it.
Especially after selling off a few a year at current high prices.

I know someone who has been alpaca farming for only 6 years and they consistently make 200K+ a year, and DON'T work 20 hours a week, and they do nothing else. All income is from alpaca farming.

The fiber is superior to any other fiber, either natural or man made.
So Alpacas are here to stay.

1:35 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie L, Is that the guy from Green Day?

Alpaca Farmer, The series of articles is geared toward people entering agriculture in a way that won't break them and hopefully they will see some profit for their efforts. Alpacas simply are not a sound investment until their price comed down to about $100 per animal unless the confirmation is supurb. The fiber is nice and soft but it has no memory, meaning you have to mix sheep wool with it in order to make it stay in the shape you knit it. If you made a hat out of 100% alpaca wool it would look like a pan cake when it wasn't being worn.

9:51 PM  

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