Alpacas are herd animals and herd animals thrive best in a herd.
What makes a herd? Not one; and in my view not two either. A minimum viable herd would be three, though there are always exceptions.
1. How much can you afford?
Work with a budget and remember it is more than just the alpacas. There are start-up costs to consider too. This will include providing shelter, water supply and feed storage; equipment such as hurdles, halters and fences. Running costs also need to be provided for, to cover food, vets bills, shearing and stud -fee if applicable.
To some extent, you can breed improvement or buy improvement, but you can only spend your money once.
Sometimes the price reflects that you are buying the support and advice of the breeder, not just the alpacas.
Land and property is essential but planning issues can be challenging.
Starting small and growing, is a good strategy but requires patience.
2. How many can you accommodate?
Land is needed for grazing and the general rule of thumb is 5 alpacas per acre. However, in my view if there are is only 1 acre 5 alpacas is probably too many.
Shelter is also necessary and can be barn, stable or field shelter.
Both land and shelter can be limiting factors.
3. How many can you actually see yourself keeping?
Time for a reality check and being sensible, though it can feel that the word sensible has been temporarily deleted from our vocabulary when we get captivated by alpacas.
- Thinking and planning are good foundations for keeping alpacas.
- What you can afford, accommodate and actually see are good guides to determine the right number of alpacas.
- You just have to accept that you are probably going to want more alpacas, however many you have.