Moonshadow Alpaca Ranch ~ Deb Hahnel & Nancy Russell ~ Bellingham, WA ~ 253-861-5061
Becoming involved in the alpaca business can be a life changing experience. When people see their first alpaca or maybe just an alpaca image on TV or in a magazine, something clicks. They are intrigued. They begin to inquire, search the internet, travel to a nearby alpaca farm, and slowly, but surely, their life changes.
More and more people are learning about the beautiful fiber alpacas produce and the variety of uses for all grades of fleece. Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin like sheep wool and therefore does not have the “prickly” factor that causes most skin irritation with wool. Alpaca can be worn against the skin for most people. Fiber crafters are using alpaca fleece for delicate items like wedding gowns to sturdy durable home furnishings and rugs.
Alpacas are easy to raise and care for. They are hearty animals and don’t take a large amount of space. They are peaceful and enjoyable livestock to be around. Still wondering what makes these animals so desirable? Bottom line…alpacas can be both profitable and enjoyable!
Alpaca breeders come from many walks of life. More and more, alpacas are becoming an important source of income for many people. Entire families are full time alpaca breeders. Young couples with children might own three or four alpacas and enjoy caring for them. Retired couples, who have raised their kids, sold their business, and retired to the country, are often owners. The family whose members include a hand-spinner might own two or three animals for fiber production. There are also people raising alpacas that don’t even own acreage, but have chosen to board (or “agist”) their alpacas with another breeder. No matter what your situation, if you have the desire to enter into the alpaca lifestyle you will find a way to manage it to fit your personal needs. Most herds start out small and grow to the size that fits the breeder’s ranch and financial goals.
The growth of the North American alpaca herd has been a slow process. A female generally breeds for the first time between 18 and 24 months of age, is pregnant for 11 to 12 months, and almost always only has one cria per year. The US alpaca registry is closed to further importation to protect our national herd, which will further moderate US herd growth.
The best way to find out if alpacas are for you is to come out and meet them. See what they are like in person and let us talk to you about the alpaca lifestyle and help you determine if raising them is for you. We look forward to meeting you!
Many alpaca owners who have been involved in the alpaca lifestyle have found it both personally and financially rewarding. Please recognize, however, that owning alpacas does involve financial and personal investment to be successful, as does any business start-up. Your ultimate success will be determined by your ability to market your animals, your fiber and finished goods; your employment of available resources within the alpaca industry; your communication skills; and your ability and willingness to provide top-notch customer service that results in a good reputation.
If you think the alpaca lifestyle is for you now is a great time to invest. Prices have evolved to a reasonable level and there are great deals to be made in this economy. The alpaca industry is still strong and progressing towards ultimate end goals in the mainstream production industry. However, the North American Alpaca Herd still has much to grow and evolve to support this demand. Quality alpaca seed stock and solid fiber markets are still generating an income supporting this wonderful lifestyle.
The major tax advantages of alpaca ownership include the employment of depreciation, capital gains treatment, and if you are an active hands-on owner, the benefit of offsetting your ordinary income from other sources with expenses from your alpaca ranching business. Alpaca breeding allows for tax-deferred wealth building. An owner can purchase several alpacas and then allow the herd to grow over time without paying income tax on its increased size and value until they are sold.
If alpacas are raised for profit, all the expenses attributable to the endeavor can be written off against your income. Expenses would include not only feed, fertilizer, veterinarian care, etc., but depreciation of such tangible property as breeding stock, barns and fences, all of which can help shelter current cash flow from tax.
For more information look for IRS publication, #225, entitled . Consult an accountant for specifics on your personal circumstances.
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