How Much Alpacas Cost
If you are considering adding alpacas to your homestead, you are likely wondering how much it will cost to purchase and care for them. Before you bring any animal onto your farm, it is crucial to understand the financial impact it will have on you to ensure that you can afford to properly care for it. This is true for alpacas, like any other livestock and pet.
So, how much do alpacas cost? You can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for one alpaca. There are many factors to consider when determining how much it will cost to raise an alpaca. Chief among these are the cost of the animal itself, start-up costs for equipment and shelter, ongoing care expenses, and the cost to feed the animal.
Read on to learn more about the breakdown in cost to own and care for these elegant and friendly animals.
Alpaca Cost Guide
One important note to keep in mind is that alpacas are herd animals, and they will be very unhappy if living alone. It is highly recommended that you have multiple alpacas to keep them content, comfortable, and happy. For the purpose of this post, we will use an example of a herd of three alpacas.
Of course, the first number to take into consideration in raising alpacas is the cost of the animal itself. How much will it cost to purchase an alpaca?
You can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for one alpaca. This means that for a herd of three, you will be looking at around $1,500 to $6,000 in purchase price. This is the average range – there are a few things that will affect the individual price of the animal. Age will play a role in cost – you can usually expect to pay less for a cria (baby alpaca) than for a mature adult. Fleece quality and color will also play a role in the cost. Some alpacas will be sold as pets, others as fiber alpacas (those that can be bred and will produce fleece – or in other words, can produce income for you), and there are also show quality alpacas.
One-Time Costs of Raising an Alpaca
There are numerous one-time, or initial start-up, costs to raising an alpaca. Let’s take a look at a few of these in depth.
It is important to register your alpaca with the AOA (Alpaca Owners Association). Some breeders will include the cost of registration with the cost of the animal, some may not. Even if an animal has been previously registered, you will need to have the registration transferred into your name upon purchase.
The cost to register an alpaca under a year old is $55. Geldings (non-breeders) can be registered for $20. The cost of transferring registration is $35 if the transaction was within the previous 180 days, and $55 otherwise. For a herd of three alpacas, this will equal $105 if transferred within 180 days.
Alpaca Health Screening
When purchasing an alpaca, you will want to ensure that you are bringing a healthy animal home. For this reason, it is a good idea to get both a BVDV test and a fecal test to check for illness. BVDV stands for bovine viral diarrhea virus, and in alpacas is a virus that can cause stillbirth, malformed crias, and illness and death. A BVDV test will ensure the animal is not infected. Alpacas are also susceptible to certain parasites, and so the fecal test will be able to give you insight into possible parasitic infections the animal may be suffering from.
BVDV tests for alpacas will cost you around $25 per animal, and fecal tests can run about $35 per animal. To purchase a herd of three alpacas, this will equate to a total cost of around $180, and is money well spent.
Transporting Your Alpacas
If you have a trailer that you can transport your new alpacas home, great! You can check this cost off of your list. If you don’t, you will need to hire someone to transport your alpacas to your home. The cost of transportation can average between $350 and $500 per alpaca. For a herd of three, this will be an additional one-time cost of $1,050 to $1,500.
Sheltering and Confining Your Alpacas
If you do not already have a fenced in area for your alpacas, or a shelter for them, this will be one of the most significant costs. Because alpacas usually only need a simple three-sided shelter (other than in areas of extreme weather), you likely will not need to go to the expense of a full barn. You can likely build a simple three-sided shelter for three alpacas for around $500 – $1,000, including the roofing materials.
Fencing will often be the highest cost. Alpacas do not typically challenge fencing, but you do need to keep predators in mind. Fencing cost will depend on a variety of factors, including how large of an area you would like to fence, and what materials you will be using. For an acre of fencing, you should expect to spend at least $1,000 – $2,000. The cost will go up from there, depending on the type of fencing that you choose.
Additional Alpaca Necessities
In addition to the above items, you will need to purchase a water trough, a hay feeder, and a halter and lead if you would like to be able to catch and tie your alpacas. Depending on whether you would like a small water trough or an automatic livestock waterer, you can expect to pay between $20 and $100 for a watering device. Alpacas are picky about their water quality, so it is worth looking into the automatic watering devices. If you choose to feed hay through a slow feeder (keeping the hay off of the ground is recommended to prevent parasites), you can expect to pay around $250 to $400. Lastly, a halter will run you around $20, with a lead costing around $15.
Ongoing Costs to Care for Your Alpaca
Cost to Feed Your Alpacas
Of course, the biggest ongoing expense when it comes to any livestock is going to be feed, especially if you do not have a healthy pasture for them to eat year-round. While the price of hay will vary greatly depending on your location and the season, a good estimate for hay is $15 per 50-pound bale. Alpacas eat 1.5% – 2% of their body weight in hay per day, so you can expect to feed a 150 pound alpaca around 2.5 pounds of hay each day. Rounding up, you can expect to pay around $30 per month in hay for one alpaca, $90 per month for a herd of three. For three alpacas, this will run about $1,080 per year.
If you choose to supplement your alpacas consumption with purchased alpaca feed, you can estimate your expense to be around $35 for a 40-pound bag of feed. You will want to discuss your feeding plan with your vet, however if you follow the directions on the bag and plan to feed a 150 pound alpaca 1 pound of grain per day, this will equal approximately $27 per month in grain for one alpaca, or $81 per month for a herd of three. For three alpacas, this will equal approximately $975 per year.
Alpaca Shearing Costs
Like sheep, alpacas need to be sheared annually. You can do this yourself, or you can hire someone else to shear them for you. If you decide to shear your alpacas yourself, you can add a shear to your one-time costs above. You can purchase a shear online for around $150.
If you choose to hire out the shearing, you can often find someone to come to your farm and shear your alpacas for around $50 – $60 per head. For a herd of three, this will conservatively come out to around $180 annually.
Alpaca Nail and Tooth Trimming Costs
Alpacas have two toes on each foot, each with a hard toenail. Alpacas need their toenails trimmed, and this will be an additional cost. If you opt to trim your alpaca’s toenails yourself, which many do, you will need to add a nail trimmer to your initial one-time costs. You can purchase nail trimmers for around $15 – $30.
You can also choose to have someone come out and trim your alpaca’s toenails. This can cost as little as $5 – $10 per head, or $30 for a herd of three. This does not include the cost one may charge to drive to your location – of course, this will vary greatly depending on your community and how rural you are. At $30 for a herd of three, this will come out to $180 per year if you have your alpacas toes trimmed every 2 months.
Alpacas will also need their teeth trimmed on a regular basis. You may choose to have a vet or a shearer trim your alpaca’s teeth, and may be able to find someone to trim your alpaca’s teeth for as little as $15 a head if they are already making a visit to your property. Or, you can trim your alpaca’s teeth on your own with a Tooth-O-Matic tool, available for purchase for around $250.
Alpaca Vaccine Costs
Annual vaccine boosters are an important part of your alpaca’s health. Some vaccines you may administer yourself, while others may require administration from a vet. Two vaccines that should be given to your alpaca on an annual basis are Rabies and Clostridium C & D. Rabies vaccines must be given by a vet, but you can administer Clostridium C & D yourself. This vaccine you can purchase online for as little as $13 for a vial.
Other vaccines that you will want to ask your vet about are Leptospira, snake venom vaccines, Liver Fluke, and West Nile. These vaccines will be warranted based on whether they are a concern in your region. Some of them may be purchased online, while some must be given by a veterinarian.
De-Worming Your Alpacas
Alpacas should be dewormed when a fecal sample shows a parasitic infection. However in areas where meningeal worms are a concern, you should deworm your alpacas on a regular basis. One applicable dewormer is called Dectomax, and can be purchased online in a 100 mL vial for $80. Dosage will depend on the weight of the animal, and this advice should be given by a veterinarian. However, some alpacas may require a dose as small as 1 mL every 6 weeks, so a vial should last for some time.
Alpaca Vet Costs
At some point, your alpaca will likely need to see a vet, even if just for a rabies vaccine booster. You will likely have a vet make a farm call to your property, and this can cost an average of $60 – $130 to have the vet come to you.
Cost of Alpacas in the UK and Australia
While the information above is geared toward the United States market, alpacas are also popular in the UK and Australia.
In the UK, you can expect to pay between 1,500 and 6,000 pounds ($2,000 – $8,500 USD) for an alpaca, depending on the type of animal that you are looking for. A bale of hay will cost approximately 70 pounds (or, around $100 USD). The cost of the animal and the feed will be the largest expenses.
Many of the other products you will need can be purchased online at similar prices to those listed above, and most vaccines, deworming, shearing and trimming you can do yourself. If you choose to have someone come to you to shear, you can expect to pay around 2 pounds (or approximately $3 USD) per head, after a set-up fee of around 50 pounds (or $70 USD).
In Australia, the average cost for an alpaca is between 500 and 3,500 Australian dollars ($350 – $2,600 in USD). For a tonne of hay, you can expect to pay around 300 Australian dollars ($222 USD). Again, most other necessary items can be purchased online, for a similar cost to those above. If you choose to hire out the shearing, you may expect to pay approximately 3.35 AUD (or $2.50 USD), after an initial set-up fee.
Estimate of Alpaca Costs
The above is meant to be a simple estimate of the cost to own and care for a small herd of alpacas – each of these costs will vary depending on your location, availability, whether you are a DIYer, and what kind of alpacas you are looking for. Hopefully this was a helpful guide to get you started in your alpaca planning!