The current alpaca industry is largely based on the sale of quality breeding stock, which demands premium prices. The future of the alpaca industry will give way to several layers of alpaca owners. Breeders that stay abreast of demand for quality breeding stock will command the highest average prices in sales of seed stock. Production livestock producers, or multipliers, will help to grow the industry to a level that will make commercial production possible. Only then, will we have the numbers numbers of alpacas and therefore pounds of raw fleece necessary to support a commercial fiber industry. Once a commercial industry is in place, fiber producers will be pressed to provide the quantity and quality of fiber needed to supply the growing demand for raw fiber here and abroad.
Female alpacas begin breeding as early as 14 months to 24 months of age. Currently, prices for quality female Suri alpacas range between $2,000 and $20,000. Females with unique bloodlines or attributes have sold for more than $100,000.
Males normally begin breeding by the time they are 3 years of age. Suri stud prospects typically sell between $2,500 and $50,000. Quality males, with unique characteristics or exceptional offspring, have sold in excess of $500,000.
Non-breeding alpacas are geldings and males or females that are unsuitable for reproduction for one reason or another. They typically make up the bulk of a fiber-production herd. They also adapt well as pets or companions for other animals. Non-breeding alpacas sell for much lower prices, typically less than $500.
There is a growing awareness of by-products from Alpaca production in our country. Gardeners are seeking alpaca manure for their vegetable gardens. It is highly digested and does not need to be composted as it will not “burn” plants. However, composting makes it that much better by reducing weeds and making the nutrients more quickly available. Additionally, a small percentage of alpacas in the United States are being used for meat. Alpaca meat is consumed in South America, much as we use beef or lamb in the United States. However, to date, few Americans have embraced the concept of slaughtering alpacas for either their meat or hides.