• 3 Steps to Succession Planning

    At a recent Iowa Power Farming Show seminar, attorney Erin Herbold-Swalwell shared her planning expertise with Midwest farmers in attendance. Prior to entering private practice at Brick Gentry P.C., Herbold-Swalwell was the staff attorney at the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. In addition to her professional experiences in research and writing, a background on her own family’s Iowa farm helps her work through the complex planning issues rural families face. more »
  • Alpaca Lies? Do Alpacas Represent the Latest Speculative Bubble in Agriculture?

    Alpacas were introduced into the U.S. from South America in 1984, and the domestic alpaca herd has grown rapidly in the succeeding 20 years. The benefits of raising alpacas are touted routinely on national television, and alpaca breeding stock in the U.S. sells routinely for prices in the range of $25,000 per head, many timeshigher than prices obtainable in Peru, where the world’s largest alpaca herd resides. We study the evolution of the U.S. alpaca industry and ask whether today’s current prices for alpaca stock can be justified by fundamental economic conditions governing the industry, or whether alpacas represent the latest speculative bubble in American agriculture. more »
  • Alpaca Ownership or Entrepreneurship? The New Zealand Case

    Alpaca ownership in New Zealand has been developing in recent years. However, very little academic research has been conducted in this area, particularly from alpaca owners' points of view. This exploratory study attempts to close some of the knowledge gaps in this area. more »
  • Alpaca Registration: Help or Hindrance to our Alpaca Industry Growth?

    QUESTION: "I am curious about registration. How many of you do not register your animals? How do those of you who do feel about those who do not? Does it hurt the industry?" The above question was posted in a social media group. And the ANSWER is…[drum roll please] it depends. There isn't a "correct" answer. more »
  • Alpacas and Ecosystems Management

    Alpacas are a species that present physiological, anatomical, morphological and behavioural distinctive characteristics compared to other species used in animal production. Empirical observation of a herd, grazing under time management controlled conditions, allowed to approximate some initial observations about the effect of alpacas in the management of ecosystems. Larger green matter availability in the paddocks grazed by alpacas, evident natural weed control, better plants distribution and increasing stocking capacity were the relevant observed issues. It is considered that the special behavioural characteristics of alpacas in terms of excretion habits, low hoof pressure, food conversion efficiency and grazing habits should be factors to be rigourously studied to explore the value of alpacas as an environmentally friendly species. more »
  • Alpacas as a Business

    Alpacas present a unique business opportunity. For the owner willing to put forth the necessary work, substantial income can be made from the sale of alpaca breeding stock. However, it is important for new or prospective alpaca owners to realize that these alpacas do not sell themselves. Before purchasing an alpaca with the intent of "making money", it is very important to thoroughly research the industry, and to have a business plan. more »
  • Be Aware - Have You Prepared? Bush Fire Season is Upon Us…

    FACT: During bushfires, lives are most often lost when people make a last minute decision to flee their homes on foot or in a vehicle. The Rural Fire Services/Emergency Services recommends if you are well PREPARED stay and defend your property, or LEAVE THE AREA EARLY in the day and well ahead of advancing fire front. more »
  • Coping with Drought

    This prolonged drought is starting to bring home to members - and their alpaca - just what a prolonged drought entails. We think of this in terms of a shortage of water, and this may well be the most obvious shortfall. The more insidious shortage occurs following a failure of the seasonal rains responsible for a pasture that carries you through into the next favourable growing phase - usually Spring. We are now experiencing a protein drought of two colours; depending on whether you have had a few showers of the wet stuff or not, you are experiencing a green drought or a brown one. In the green drought the pasture looks green, because of a small sparse shoot that is 90% water, so does not provide sufficient protein to fatten lambs or maintain late pregnant animals in adequate condition. The brown variety does not even have the green shoot, because gale-force winds rip the moisture from the soil before the stunted/ overgrazed grass can respond. more »
  • La Influencia del Mercado en la Crianza de Alpacas en las Comunidades Alto Andinas de Pucará

    Using a social-anthropological approach, through first-hand experiences living in the field and speaking with the subjects of this study, this paper investigates how the global economic market of alpaca wool has had effect on the traditional cultural practices of alpaca herders in the high Andean communities of Pucará, Peru. The results reveal a loss of traditional Andean herder’s practices and beliefs in the face of modernization, the inequality and exploitation within the wool market, and the influence of western economic ideologies. To preserve cultural practices and enhance the conditions of an alpaca herder, I suggest educating the communities on more efficient modes of production and integrating them into programs and associations. This would better the livelihood of alpaca herders by leading to better health and living conditions, more efficient production that can keep up with the high demand of alpaca wool, and the possibility of reintroducing traditional costume for future generations. more »
  • Managing Your Farming Legal Risks with Insurance: A Farm Commons Tutorial

    This interactive tutorial assists farmers in understanding and prioritizing the specific legal risks and insurance needs for their farms. Have a pen and paper ready, as you’ll have the opportunity to develop an action plan to get the best insurance coverage to match your specific needs. The tutorial covers key aspects of four core insurance categories for farms: (1) property insurance, including structures and equipment, (2) crop and livestock insurance, (3) liability for worker injuries, and (4) liability for other injuries, including guests and farm owners. The tutorial is full of practical tips and can help guide you through the process of evaluating and obtaining the best coverage for your farm operation. It can be watched in its entirety or by section. more »
  • Market Assessment - New and Emerging Animal Industries. Tranche 1: Mohair, Alpaca and Camel Milk

    The Australian alpaca industry has been through the speculative stage of new industry development and has emerged with a much more professional focus. Alpaca is classified as ‘maturing’ and growth prospects are described as ‘neutral to positive’. Fibre production has increased from 102 tonnes in 2006-07 to 242 tonnes in 2015-16. Meat production has emerged as a serious addition to commercial enterprises –32 tonnes of alpaca meat were marketed to restaurants in 2015-16 and strong future growth is forecast. When returns from stud animal sales, including export, fibre and meat are added into the production mix industry has the potential to be profitable. more »
  • Project Summary: Alpaca Market Assessment 2016

    A more professional Australian alpaca industry is emerging and enterprises with fleece, stud animals and meat sales have the potential to be profitable. The domestic and export sale of fleece has been facilitated by expert classing of alpaca fleece. The success of domestic markets for alpaca meat has been attributed to chef training and the development of dedicated alpaca meat processors. more »
  • Restructuring the Family Farm Business? See a Tax Lawyer Soon

    Planning the best tax structure deal for a farming business is not something to be rushed into at the end of the financial year. If your family business is looking to reduce or eliminate tax or stamp duty implications ahead of a looming restructure, farm succession manoeuvre, or sale, the chances are everybody involved needs to be much more familiar with the way their enterprise operates. more »
  • Some Hard Truths About the Alpaca Industry

    The actual 2000 recession was short, eight months. Compared to the last two years, this earlier recession was much less consequential for the alpaca farmer. The long term financial recovery of the 2000 recession lasted much longer than the actual recession. more »
  • South American Camelids Research - Volume I

    South American Camelids are receiving increased interest not only in South America but also on a worldwide scale. They possess some unique features such as their fine fibre and their high adaptivity to many climatic regions across the world. Apart from the important productive aspects, their physical attractiveness also makes them popular as pet animals. However there are still many gaps in the scientific literature with regard to South American Camelids. This collection of papers brings experience of both South American and European experts together. It considers current trends in reproduction, nutrition, health, fibre morphology and genetics and discusses as new topic aspects of the potential of meat production and commercialization in South America. The particular advantages of South American Camelids for the sustainable use of fragile ecosystems with native pastures are outlined. Round tables discussions focus on the interaction between wild and domestic species, the management of alpaca populations outside of South America and health aspects under European conditions. South American Research is aimed at scientists and animal breeders as well as students studying veterinary, animal and applied biological sciences. more »
  • Tax Rackets: Outlandish Loopholes to Lower Tax Liabilities

    Alpacas were a rarity in the U.S. just 30 years ago, but a fleecing of the tax code has dramatically increased the population. A market for the furry animals’ fleece never took off, but a write-off for the cost of furbearing animals being used to shear tax bills created a demand for the alpacas. Since most of the federal tax benefits are taken in the year of purchase, however, the alpacas are often abandoned when they can no longer be used as tax shelters. more »
  • The Alpaca Bubble Burst. Now Backyard Farmers Are Picking Up The Pieces

    Known for their calm temperaments and soft fleece, alpacas were at one time the next hot thing to backyard farmers. A decade ago, the market was frenetic, with some top of the line animals selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.But the bubble burst, leaving thousands of alpaca breeders with near-worthless herds. more »
  • The Alpaca Bubble Revisited

    We revisit the U.S. alpaca industry six years after having conducted a study suggesting the industry was in the midst of an unsustainable speculative bubble. We show that in the aftermath the bubble has largely burst. We also offer some lessons intended to prevent the recurrence of such bubbles in agriculture. more »
  • What Can Your Farming Neighbor Teach You About Your Alpaca Farm?

    I live in rural south-central PA, previously one of the top counties in the state for agriculture and most specifically for dairy farms and fruit orchards. Forty years ago, everyone in the dairy business followed the same business plan. Most milked a herd of 150-300 head per day, grew their hay and crops and sold their milk directly to a general buyer. There was a local farm veterinarian that would make calls for milk fever and calvings. Most farmers used the same reliable bull or contracted with a neighbor to use their animal. AI and Frozen Embryos were not part of our everyday vocabulary. more »
  • When the Great Alpaca Bubble Burst

    In addition to all their positive attributes, over the past decade alpacas have been the financial ruin of Americans across the nation. Not long ago, alpaca farming was a booming industry, with the top breeding alpacas selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nowadays, the few remaining alpaca farmers struggle to stay afloat. Alpaca rescues have cropped up to save the animals who have outlived their economic utility. more »
  • You Won’t Find Hobbiness in Wikipedia!

    Hobbiness, noun, a combination of “Hobby and Business.” Fiction. The word Hobbiness is not in the dictionary. This concept cannot exist in reality. In other words, your craft cannot be both a Hobby and a Business. You must decide whether you want to pursue a vocation as either a hobby or business, and this is the first concept that I advise people to choose when contemplating owning alpacas. It is “alright” to keep alpacas as a hobby. You do not need to turn it into a business. more »
  • “It’s Hard to Stay at the Top of the Game”

    The alpaca “business” is still a game....right or wrong, we need to acknowledge it and not try to call it something else. We base breeding decisions on winnings in the show ring so that we can then produce a “winner” and sell our animals. It hasn’t changed in the ten plus years that we’ve been in the business. I wish I could share in the excitement of seeing our show system “coming back” and the numbers picking up at the shows. However, without apology, I cannot see the jubilation in perpetuating a system that doesn’t promote our alpaca industry as a livestock industry. It continues to promote it as an entertainment industry akin to the equine business. more »