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Alpaca breeding and farming, whether to produce top-quality seed stock animals or fiber animals, is an incredible lifestyle with strong income potential. Alpacas create a commodity that is both rare and in demand worldwide, and they are considered the "Aristocrat" of all farm animals with their scrumptious fiber and charismatic manner. Alpacas are low maintenance, and live a relatively long and trouble-free reproductive lifespan with proper care.

Because all viable livestock models have a terminal market for animals that will not or should not be bred, there is a slow-growing market for alpaca meat. It is very high in protein and is a lean, flavorful red meat. Most alpaca farms in the US farm for championship bloodlines and quality seed stock (exemplary animals used for breeding) and/or for fiber.


Alpacas were first imported into America in 1987 from Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, due to US interest in the fiber market. Prior to this time, there were no protocols in place for the exportation of alpacas, but due to a complex mix of geopolitical and economic circumstances in South America - including significant terrorist activity in Peru – these three countries negotiated the necessary protocols to export animals to the United States, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, and Israel. The US border was closed to importation in 2000 because some North American breeders feared that continued high volume of imports would oversaturate domestic markets with imported animals. The focus in the US alpaca industry became cultivating quality by breeding exemplary animals within both small farms and large scale breeders, and not importing additional alpacas. There are about 100,000 registered alpacas in the Alpaca Registry, Inc. (the ARI, once a subdivision of the International Llama Registry, was officially formed in 1995), with an unknown number of unregistered animals currently in the US.

There is a very active Alpaca Owners Association, Inc. (AOA) in the US that facilitates the DNA testing required to register an alpaca; they also certify alpaca competitions (also called "shows") all across America. DNA testing allows the AOA to assign registration numbers (ARIs) that accurately record lineage. This allows breeders to make informed decisions when choosing sires (males) and dams/maidens (females) for their breeding programs, based on desired and intended characteristics of offspring. Alpaca shows themselves are very similar to dog shows. Alpacas are separated by type (Huacaya or Suri), sex, age, and color. Experienced judges are able to compare the most similar animals with these classifications. Alpacas are judged 50% on the quality of their fleece and 50% of their conformation (the correctness of the alpaca's body). Fleece traits include brightness, uniformity, fineness, and organization to staple or lock. Winning ribbons adds value to an alpaca, as they confirm that animals' superiority to their peers.

For more information on the AOA, please visit their website here: