Updated: May 8
Thinking of keeping alpacas but have no idea how much it will realistically cost? Check out our blog below to find out how much it costs to buy and keep alpacas…
How many alpacas should I buy?
Alpacas are social animals that thrive in groups of 3 or more – they should never be kept alone! Therefore, you should set aside an initial budget for at least 3 alpacas and their ongoing care.
Top Tip: Remember that you need to keep same sex groups together, in order to avoid fighting and injury. See our blog Starting your own herd: How many alpacas should I have? to find out why.
How much space do I need to keep alpacas?
Of course, you will need to consider whether you already own the land, or if you need to rent/purchase the land. The suggested stock density is 5-6 alpacas per acre. If you can split the pasture or acquire a second paddock, this will allow you to rotate between grazing – ensuring you have enough quality grass all year round, as well as reducing the risk of worms!
What determines the price of an alpaca?
Alpacas typically cost between £700 - £1,500 in the UK, but price will depend upon a variety of factors such as whether you want pets or breeding stock, their fleece quality, their registration status and genetic bloodline.
1. The type & quality of alpacas you wish to keep
£700 - £950 = pet males
£1,500 - £5,000 = breeding & hobby farm quality alpacas
£5,000 - £20,000+ = top show quality alpacas
Popularity and current colour trends will impact the cost of your alpaca. At the moment, greys are most popular, and whites are least popular. So, a white pet male currently cost around £390, whereas a grey pet male costs around £680.
3. Breeding lines & conformation
Alpacas with good heritage lines and excellent conformation will generally be more expensive than those with less notable heritage lines.
4. Registration with the British Alpaca Society (BAS)
Alpacas registered with the BAS are more expensive, as the breeder usually needs to pay a sum for this, and typically, registered breeders will have invested more in their herd than unregistered keepers. (Although unregistered alpacas may be a cheaper alternative, make sure that the breeder is responsible, and that the animals are well taken care of prior to purchase.)
Set up costs for 3 alpacas
To ensure you are fully prepared for the arrival of your new herd, you will need to consider where you will keep your alpacas, tools and equipment. Below is a suggested (but not exhaustive) list for a typical starter herd size of 3 alpacas:
£1,500 = 3 pet males
£285 = castration at 10 - 12 months of age for 3 alpacas (if purchased weanling males as pets)
£2,000 = fencing for 1 acre (if square and flat)
£1,000 = shelter (we recommend Fallen Oak Timber Buildings for UK based keepers)
£75 = 3 headcollars & 3 lead ropes (we recommend Homestead Farm Supplies)
£18.95 = bucket holder
£14 = 3 feed tubs
£80 = hayracks
£20 = 2 bins for feed storage
£49 = wheelbarrow
£20 = gorilla (lightweight plastic) shovel
£150 = veterinary visit & herd health plan
Ongoing Annual Care Costs
But that isn’t the end of it! You must not forget about the costs of ongoing care on an annual basis. Below is a suggested (but not exhaustive) list for a typical starter herd size of 3 alpacas:
£100 = feed
£300 = hay
£300 = straw for bedding
£100 = routine medication
£600 veterinary care (could be less or substantially more, so it is always a good idea to keep a reserve and insure your alpacas)
£200 = maintenance of fencing, shelters & paddocks
£75 = shearing
Alpacas cost around £1.50 each per day to keep in the UK, or £139 each per month or £547.50 each per year.
But, you have to bear in mind that alpacas must be kept in groups of at least 3... So a herd of 3 alpacas costs £4.50 per day, £139.50 per month or £1,643 a year to maintain.
Below are some links that you may find useful if you are still considering purchasing alpacas: