Saturday, September 14, 2013

An Alpaca with a Broken Leg

During a farm visit yesterday, as we shuffled people from one pen to the next, I noticed one of our ladies was just standing still, letting people pet her.  We have some very friendly alpacas, but all of the alpacas were shifting into different areas and she was not with the group.


I walked over to her and Sweet Marie's whole body was quivering, her front leg dangling a couple of inches above the ground.  We escorted the group of people out of the pens into the other pastures.  I continued with the tour while James attended to Sweet Marie, calling the vet and giving 2 ccs of Banamine.

After the group was gone, I gave my full attention to the injured alpaca.  She was unable to walk, so James and I picked up this bigger girl weighing in at 195 and carried her into the barn, where she refuse pellets and just stood there.  Eventually, she was able to lay down until the vet arrived.

There he wrapped her leg and cast it. The break was just below the knee and very severe.  With a light sedative, she laid her head in my lap as the doctor and technicians secured the cast up to the arm  pit.

In 30 minutes, the cast was set and with a group of alpacas as moral support around her, she lay there trying to get her bearings.  After an hour, Sweet Marie was able to sit up, with the broken leg sticking straight out.  Eventually, we helped her rise.  Again we carried her into a smaller pen, where she will be jailed for the next 2 months.  

We put her food and water just below head level, as eating off of the ground is difficult.  As the pain subsides and she regains her mobility, eating became a less difficult chore.

We have only had one other broken leg on the property - the same alpaca with the back right leg.  Go figure.  We assume this has to due with some form of mineral processing or deficiency.  We offer free choice alpaca mineral in several areas of the barn, so access is not an issue.  Some of us are just more prone to certain issues than others.

  





I am happy to report that after 6 months, Sweet Marie was released for the first time yesterday without her cast. She is strong, though still favors the leg which is a good thing.  We want her to protect it until she has her strength back.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Putting your alpaca product in stores

Putting Products In A Retail Store

It is mid-summer once again and we are back to the farmer's markets with our alpacas and our products.  I love seeing the people, new and old, enjoying new cria and looking at some of our clothing.  The ever popular question I always get asked is, "Where do you sell your products?". I smirk at the irony as they have a hat in their hand and are standing next to a large display of alpaca gear...  However I do understand that many are not ready to think about let alone buy a warm hat when it is 92 degrees outside.  It is tough to sell ice to an Eskimo. With an increased demand of asking where our products are available other than just a Tuesday night at the market, we have started putting our products in stores, both locally and out of state. This comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and things to do.


There are several areas that you need to consider when looking at the benefits and the downsides of supplying retailers:



1.  Money: One of the biggest reasons many of us have products in the stores is reaching more people and potentially obtaining more money.  While this is true, your profits are often less because you are wholesaling the products.  You are now the middle man.  Stores will often want to keystone (or double) their profits.  So if you feel a hat can sell for $60.00 at retail pricing, you will need to sell it to the store for $30.00.

2. Supply:  You need to ask yourself not only can you afford to wholesale, but do you have the supplies to do so? We have thousands of pounds of fleece that we process every year but it is very likely that we can be short on yarn for a hat. Can you supply everyone with what they want immediately? These days it is just in time shipping for the distributor.  Many are willing to wait a couple of days for an order to ship but not weeks and certainly not months. 



3. EnergyNot only does it take a lot of money to get going but also a lot of work and timing if you're planning to quality control check, price, package, and ship the product. I personally do all of this myself and it is definitely a full time job.  The USPS Click-and-Ship system is excellent for shipping from home.


4. Marketing:  With our margins so low, we look at our boutique alpaca product line in the stores as great marketing.  We have put them excellent stores for a variety of consumers - Co-ops, ranch supply stores and hardware stores.  This helps promote your products to many who may not stumble upon our website or see us at an event.  After 10 years in the business -and the largest alpaca farm in the state - people still have no idea what an alpaca is.  Getting your name out is everything for your company.



5. Working with your dealers:  Always be professional, be friendly with all the staff and try to deal consistently with the same person if possible.  Make yourself easy to work with.  If they are local, we often deliver the products for free to save them on shipping.  See if they want you to provide a display rack, what are their packaging requirements (UPC codes) and their expectations of turn-around.  Be clear on your terms (pay in advance, at delivery, or within a certain amount of time after delivery). You are now required to have even greater quality control, consistent product and pricing.  Often if you mess up once, you are out of the game.  Dealers / retailers deal with thousands of SKUs and do not want to have an extra chore (or headache).

Above all, do not underprice them.  Do not compete with your dealers or they will have to drop you because they are not able to sell your product.





Friday, June 28, 2013

When Should You Be Ready To Sell Your Alpacas?


We had a farm visit the other day that brought up a great question.  In fact, I had never even thought about this question.  While talking about their future plans as new alpaca owners, they asked “when is it time to sell?”.  Of course if you ever want a fiber or pet quality owner of alpacas, then you want to keep your new family members as long as possible. However, if you are looking at alpacas as a business I would say even before you have your alpacas you should start to think about selling them. 




Advice given to us as we were picking up our first group of alpacas was to never fall in love with these animals. I am glad to say I did not follow this advice but I do understand where the Seller was coming from.  I love each and every one of my alpacas and feel I know them personally. However, in order to pay my mortgage I do need to sell them.  We do our best to ensure that they always go to great homes. We meet with the new owners, go over health needs, and what their farm plans include, such as fencing and shelter. Of course alpacas are not cheap and many also want to invest in their new herd for the best care possible.

I have heard that some farms want to herd build before they start to sell.  This is great but if you have a prospective buyer, sell, sell, sell!  Buyers are always much harder to come by then alpacas.  Even if you do not sell for a profit and just break even on the deal, you are now a partner with that farm and can replace the alpaca with another animal.  This is essential in your business building and networking.  If you are looking at this as a business treat it as a business. This does not mean do not care for and love your animals. Enjoy them. But if you have the opportunity, build your business.
  
Market, promote, and always sell your business.  I have read the average time it takes a person to purchase alpacas is 2 years from the first time they hear of this fabulous animal. So start the clock as soon as possible! Do not wait or deter someone just because you love the look of that one, are hoping for a particular baby, or what not. Price the animal fairly and work on selling to a new client.  If you are unwilling or unable to sell, there is always someone else that they will fall in love with (because they certainly will be looking around at other farms)  and you will lose more than just one sale.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alpaca Statistics - How Many Alpacas Are There and Where?

How many alpacas are really out there.  According to my findings, there are approximately 6 million alpacas in Peru today.  Below is some info about the rest of the world.   Here are a few alpaca stats:




REGISTERED ALPACA WORLDWIDE
Country
Suri
Huacaya
All Alpaca
 
AFGHANISTAN
0
1
1
 
ANGOLA
0
1
1
 
ARGENTINA
1
0
1
 
AUSTRALIA
77
30
107
 
BOLIVIA
8
33
41
 
CANADA
371
12,065
12,436
 
CHILE
2
96
98
 
GERMANY
0
2
2
 
JAPAN
0
13
13
 
NEW ZEALAND
19
16
35
 
PERU
5
6
11
 
UKRAINE
0
1
1
 
UNITED STATES
32,726
143,501
176,227
 
UNKNOWN
226
1,852
2,078
 
Total Registered Alpacas Worldwide
33,435
157,617
191,052











REGISTERED ALPACA US
State
Suri
Huacaya
All Alpaca
 
ALABAMA
202
991
1,193
 
ALASKA
20
457
477
 
ARIZONA
515
2,810
3,325
 
ARKANSAS
68
561
629
 
ARMED FORCES EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST, & CANADA
4
1
5
 
ARMED FORCES PACIFIC
0
15
15
 
CALIFORNIA
2,520
11,318
13,838
 
COLORADO
2,370
12,527
14,897
 
CONNECTICUT
153
1,766
1,919
 
DELAWARE
130
305
435
 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
0
9
9
 
FLORIDA
1,277
2,765
4,042
 
GEORGIA
563
2,016
2,579
 
HAWAII
5
266
271
 
IDAHO
482
5,021
5,503
 
ILLINOIS
1,264
3,333
4,597
 
INDIANA
1,077
3,947
5,024
 
IOWA
282
1,970
2,252
 
KANSAS
317
2,346
2,663
 
KENTUCKY
490
2,420
2,910
 
LOUISIANA
79
323
402
 
MAINE
317
2,594
2,911
 
MARYLAND
2,328
3,166
5,494
 
MASSACHUSETTS
124
2,759
2,883
 
MICHIGAN
2,482
5,703
8,185
 
MINNESOTA
906
2,320
3,226
 
MISSISSIPPI
109
337
446
 
MISSOURI
907
3,144
4,051
 
MONTANA
284
1,244
1,528
 
NEBRASKA
450
745
1,195
 
NEVADA
183
1,127
1,310
 
NEW HAMPSHIRE
266
2,207
2,473
 
NEW JERSEY
822
4,212
5,034
 
NEW MEXICO
244
2,116
2,360
 
NEW YORK
874
10,941
11,815
 
NORTH CAROLINA
523
3,033
3,556
 
NORTH DAKOTA
1
112
113
 
OHIO
5,793
21,774
27,567
 
OKLAHOMA
337
1,625
1,962
 
OREGON
3,751
12,496
16,247
 
PENNSYLVANIA
2,179
10,728
12,907
 
PUERTO RICO
0
1
1
 
RHODE ISLAND
39
580
619
 
SOUTH CAROLINA
393
1,216
1,609
 
SOUTH DAKOTA
2
299
301
 
TENNESSEE
680
2,889
3,569
 
TEXAS
780
5,678
6,458
 
UTAH
594
1,241
1,835
 
VERMONT
120
2,898
3,018
 
VIRGINIA
698
7,995
8,693
 
WASHINGTON
4,244
14,801
19,045
 
WEST VIRGINIA
428
1,357
1,785
 
WISCONSIN
2,421
5,145
7,566
 
WYOMING
380
1,101
1,481
 
UNKNOWN
112
1,457
1,569
 




PRIMARY COLOR DISTRIBUTION
Color
Number of Alpacas
Percentage
 
White
49,060
25.7
 
Medium Brown
19,350
10.1
 
Medium Fawn
19,338
10.1
 
True Black
18,782
9.8
 
Light Fawn
17,821
9.3
 
Dark Brown
12,059
6.3
 
Beige
11,161
5.8
 
Dark Fawn
10,386
5.4
 
Bay Black
8,278
4.3
 
Light Brown
8,238
4.3
 
Medium Silver Grey
4,735
2.5
 
Medium Rose Grey
3,550
1.9
 
Dark Silver Grey
2,515
1.3
 
Dark Rose Grey
1,909
1
 
Light Silver Grey
1,894
1
 
Light Rose Grey
1,805
0.9
 
Unknown
171
0.1
 


*Information obtained from the Alpaca Registry, Inc.