10 Commandments for New Alpaca Breeders
The 10 Commandments for New Alpaca Breeders
I. Thou shalt not neglect thy business plan.
Too many people either don't have, or don't stick to their business plans. You need to discipline yourself to put the money and effort where you know it will best contribute to the overall success of your endeavor. Plan and anticipate the time, money and effort required to do it right. The alpaca business is too expensive to enter into unprepared. Have an experienced breeder review your plan with you.
II. Thou shalt not purchase geldings. (You will make your own!)
Don't start off your business wasting time and money on something you will spend the rest of your business career trying to find a home for. Gelding males are an inevitable part of the business, and may be a sign of a good herd that actively culls lesser quality animals. If you want to "try out" a couple animals to see if you like the alpaca lifestyle, then borrow a couple. Just don't waste your money on buying animals that will not contribute to your business! The only exception is if you need a companion for another male that you own (see third commandment).
III. Thou shalt not purchase an alpaca herdsire until you have 6 breeding females (at least!).
There are a lot of reason why you should not purchase a stud. The main reason is, you probably can’t afford the quality of herdsires you should be breeding to. Your herd will grow in value as it grows in size. The quickest way to grow in size is to spend the money you have budgeted for animals on the purchase of females, preferably pregnant ones. You want the best genetics you can get, and most breeders (especially new ones) cannot afford a top herdsire. Too many people unknowingly purchase a mediocre male to be their herdsire, only to doom their potential for herd enhancement. Buy good girls and breed them with the best studs you can find to put yourself in the best position possible to enhance the overall quality of your herd.
IV. Thou shalt not become a "sub-set" of the MegaFarm down the street.
It is always so very alluring to visit the MegaFarms with hundreds of alpacas. Just remember: someday you will want to sell an alpaca, and you will want people to take a serious look at your alpacas. It is hard to differentiate yourself if you are buying the standard production of the big guys. Buying from other small breeders allows you to show something different than what is being shown at the MegaFarm and helps build the small breeder network.
V. Thou shalt not shoot thy entire wad on the animals.
There are a lot of expenses related to the alpaca business beyond the purchase of the alpacas. Feed, shelter, pasture, vet care and advertising are just a few of these expenses that must be anticipated.
VI. Thou shalt not stop marketing
Everything you do should involve marketing. From shirts with your (professionally designed) logo to the lettering on your car/truck, you need to let as many things as possible tell your story. No matter how irresistible your alpacas are, they will not sell themselves. And because you surely will have a limited marketing budget, you must work out a plan that most effectively gets your name and message out to the right people. And, you will learn the difference between Marketing and Advertising.
VII. Thou shalt not neglect the alpaca industry.
One of the most attractive aspects of the alpaca industry is the people who are a part of it. Giving back to the industry through participation at shows, contributions to medical studies, volunteering with state and national trade associations not only helps you become known as a "player" in the industry, it also builds a healthier and stronger industry which will attract more people to it.
VIII. Thou shalt not be both Suri and Huacaya.
At least in the beginning, you will not want to dilute valuable resources to effectively develop two distinct herds. Concentrate in one direction and compromise as little as possible.
IX. Thou shalt not forget, thou art a small alpaca breeder
You will someday have alpacas for sale. You will be a small breeder trying to sell one or two of your alpacas to begin to develop a cash flow to fund the continued growth of your business. Before you purchase your alpacas, why not look at breeders who are in this situation right now? You can learn a lot from small breeders, and the features of the small breeders that attract you will help you someday attract people to your farm. Don't be surprised if the follow up service you get from the small breeder far surpasses that of the mega-breeders.
X. Thou shalt not lose heart
Develop a network of alpaca friends that can help you with questions, problems, and basic support. Be realistic in your expectations for everything from herd value to sales levels. A consistent, honest and reliable approach will better serve you and your customers.
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