Making a living from alpacas

Episode Notes

You can listen to podcasts in so many places – where is your favourite place to listen to the Alpaca Tribe podcast?

I recently had some feedback from Muninn from Oregon who wanted to know how many alpacas are needed to make a financially viable business. Good question but unfortunately there is not a simple out of the box answer suitable for everyone.

Initial investment can be high if you aim for top quality animals and jump-start the size of the herd. Where you start depends as always on where you trying to get to. For example, let’s consider a breeding herd and sales of alpacas.

If you had say 20 breeding females and assume equal numbers of male/female cria you could have three groups of males and females to sell each year. Do you know the average values of pet males in your area? You could end up with only a few thousand pounds/dollars. The females maybe 10,000. Half of that could be swallowed by cost such as feed; vet and medicine bills; maintenance of land and equipment; shearing; registrations; transport etc.

Other income streams can be added such as fleece (from raw to finished product); services; training; shearing; composted alpaca dung; experiences and other tourism-related activities.

Good news – you can start small and cheap.

Bad news – cost of starting large is high.


  1. Setting up an alpaca business need plenty of planning and preparation
  2. It may not bring quick or large returns.
  3. Diversification is really helpful.

Joe Phelan of K2 Alpacas talked about his business growth in Episodes 42 and 43 – well worth another listen

Building an alpaca business in Ireland 42

Many people want to build a business with their alpacas. Joe Phelan of K2 alpacas near Dublin has grown significantly over the last 5 years and shares some of his wisdom, business philosophy and plain common sense with us. Learn from his journey.

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Grow your alpaca business 43

Wouldn’t it be nice if it was possible to combine keeping our alpacas and running a business, or even running a business keeping alpacas? The good news is that it can be done with thought, planning and application. In this episode, we hear more from Joe Phelan of K2 Alpacas

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Selling your first alpacas

  • Always a challenge to let them go and to find good new homes for them.
  • Do the preparation in advance and be willing to say no.
  • If it is feeling too rushed, slow it down.
  • Visit the new farm whenever possible.

Send a voice message to     Steve Heatherington (AlpacaTribe)

Send a voice message to Steve Heatherington (AlpacaTribe)

(Or you can use the recorder on your computer.)

2 thoughts on “Making a living from alpacas”

  1. Such a good podcast Steve! I’m in this phase now… struggling to get started with a “business plan” idea and thinking of ways I can offset the cost of keeping alpacas. How do you do it? Can you make money from your podcasting? We are also in the process of selling our first animals.

    By the way, I listen to your podcast while knitting.

    Have a great day!

    • Thanks for your comments Rita – Business Plans have two purposes and may have slightly different content.
      1) To convince someone to lend you money to grow your business.
      2) As a business road map that sets your direction and puts self-imposed boundaries on what you are doing.

      Business Plans should be a working tool and is adjusted as you go – priorities and market conditions change, so it needs to be flexible.

      There are loads of places to find advice online – probably almost too many. There may be a local business advice service available from a local government initiative which aims to help new businesses. That would be worth checking out.

      Podcasting is a way of raising profile but doesn’t easily generate income unless you get sponsors.

      Selling animals (saw the link on Facebook) is a big step and says you are serious about building something sustainable. Alpacas are a great hobby but hobbies cost you money. A business is to provide product and service and has the aim of making a profit. But it is challenging to do this well in whatever area you are working.

      I loved the advice that came from Joe Phelan – in episodes 42 and 43 (see above) – where he expanded his business and made investments as the income grew. How can you make a start? How can you scale input and output to grow the business? How can you do it in a way that keeps you smiling and enjoying your passion?

      If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!

      Maybe we need to return to this area in upcoming episodes of the podcast.

      Why am I not surprised that you listen while knitting! 😉 Keep going and keep in touch. SteveH


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