With so much transition in our economy, I have been asked many times is the alpaca industry still valid, or is it a fleeting house of cards much like many other markets seemed to be- llamas, ostriches, buffalo and all of the others. The problem with the meat based products (buffalo, ostrich) is that there is only so much room on Safeway's shelf for meat. The cattle lobbyist are one of the strongest lobby groups in the world. If Ted Turner with his 10K buffalo and $7 Billion dollars cannot bust through into the meat market and get shelf space, no one will. Emus can be used for meat or their oil, but they are extremely difficult to raise and you have to kill them, not giving you a lot of product for the cost and risk involved. I spoke with one guy who said they had to kill 30 ostrich a day to break even, so he could not make money. Llamas are meant to be a beast of burden for packing or guarding. We have 2 llamas that we use with our alpacas. They were extremely high priced in the 80s and a lot of people got burned, but this was always a house of cards. There are only so many people that need a packing or guarding animal.
The difference with alpaca is that it hard to argue against extremely soft, warm, high performance clothing. Who doesn't need warm socks or a hat when the weather gets cold? The function of the alpaca is for its fiber. Its a textile animal that has a viable, in demand product for a large majority of the population. The are easy and inexpensive to raise, so you can make a profit with them as a textile based business.
See more information at http://www.alpacasofmontana.com/