How Much Does an Alpaca Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

Alpacas, related to the llama, are social herd animals and look like a sheep that has been domesticated for thousands of years.  They are half the size of a llama and are known for its docile temperament.    The alpaca is more popular for its wool than it is for its meat, and while the meat is edible, the wool is usually the reason people buy an alpaca.

Alpacas by Aldon, on Flickr
Alpacas” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Aldon

How much does an alpaca cost?

The costs will depend on the breed, the color, heritage/bloodline, fleece quality, gender, age, where you live and seller.  On average, plan on spending anywhere from $400 to as much as $11,000.  Most purchases, however, will be between $2,000 and $5,000.  The costs come down to why you want to own the alpaca.   Colors, another large factor, can affect the price.  Depending on the market conditions, one color may be more in demand than another, for example.  Also, the quality is something to pay close attention to as the teeth structure, bone density, and back legs separation can all affect the price.

Sunset Ridge Alpacas says a non-breeding fiber stock will be near the lower end, while a high-quality breeding stock can be at the higher animal.  Since an alpaca don’t make great pets, these animals need to be looked at as an investment, not a pet, so it’s important to take the initial costs and figure out the potential profit your animal can produce.

The Island Alpaca Company, at the time of writing this guide, has more than 20 listings up.  While most of their alpacas have sold, the ones that were active had prices ranging from $1,500 to $5,500.  Located in Massachusetts, the company offers free financing, free board for three months, free transportation within 150 miles, a free disclosure, support and more.

This Modern Farmer article says if you plan on purchasing an alpaca, you should be prepared to purchase more than one since they love company.  Though prices won’t vary much by the breed, the costs will vary according to their purpose.  A pet, while not recommended, can cost as little as $200, while a nonbreeding male with okay fibers can cost $500 to $1,000.  Females who produce fiber and offspring can be costlier, being in the $3,000 to $8,000+ range.  Show-worthy herds can fit as much as $30,000+

Open Herd, yet another classified website, had a few featured auctions ranging from $800 to $6,000.

Type of AlpacaAverage Price
Male as pet$200 to $500
Breeding female older than 2 years$2,000 to $10,000+
Younger female$2,000 to $15,000+
Stud quality males$2,000 to $30,000+
Fiber or geldings$250 to $800
Non-breeding males with okay fiber$400 to $1,000

What is going to be included in the price?

A reputable breeder should always, at a minimum, include a full health disclosure, all medical history, an award record if available, a vet checkup and a health guarantee/warranty.

Most, at least from our research, will also offer free boarding for a limited time while they wait for you to pickup, free halters and leads, free delivery up to 100 miles; support, training, and mentoring after the purchase has been completed for a limited amount of time.

What are the extra costs?

For food, alpacas will graze on grass wherever they can find it.  While they don’t pull the grass from the roots, it can allow you to rotate your pasture to help save on costs.  Due to the alpaca’s efficient digestive system, low protein grass will be the best.  An acre, on average, can accommodate close to 10 alpacas, but if you were to have any more, you would have to supplement their diet with hay.  Not known to be heavy eaters, the average alpaca will eat about $200 to $400 worth of hay per year.

Vaccinations and a monthly worming are highly recommended, but other than the unexpected illness, an alpaca will need very few medical needs unless pregnant.  Pregnant females will need more attention, and babies, once born, will need blood work to check their health.

The shelter, depending on where you live, can range from a three-sided shelter with adequate protection from the cold to a three-sided shelter with misters to keep them cool in the summer heat.  Aside from the shelter, these animals must be protected inside a good perimeter fence to keep them contained and to keep the predators at bay.  The size of the fence will depend on the type of predators in your geographical area.  A coated chain link or mesh fence, at least four feet high, is ideal to discourage predators.

Shipping, if you need it during the initial purchase, can be in the hundreds, depending on the distance being traveled.

To care for your alpaca, plan on spending close to $200 per year, according to Dutch Hollow Acres.  This will include the hay, grain, minerals, wormer, rabies, CD&T, syringes, vet visits, heated water, fans, sheering and teeth cleanings.  This won’t include the one-time starter fees such as the property, shelter, fencing, equipment, fiber processing and so forth.

Tips to know:

On the market, there are two alpaca breeds: the huacaya and suri.  The huacaya, which makes up 80 percent of the market, will have a fluffy, crimped fleece that grows perpendicular to the skin, making it a nice option for knitting.  Suris will be silkier, heavier and the wool will hang down, creating a shaggier look.  The suri fiber tends to be blended with cotton, silk, wool or a higher-end fabric.

If healthy, an alpaca can live 15 to 20 years.

When full grown, the average alpaca can be anywhere from 130 to 180 pounds, with males weighing 20 to 30 pounds more than a female.  As for size, the will grow three feet tall at the withers, while the head and neck will be close to two feet tall, for a total of five feet from the ground.  Like any animal, however, some may be larger than others.

While most people envision an alpaca white in color, they do come in more than 100 distinct colors, ranging from a dark brown to several shades of silver.  While the fiber quality is easy to breed for, the color is not, according to Modern Farmer.

Finding alpacas online is relatively easy.  Consider finding one via the Alpaca Owners and Breeders AssociationAlpaca Registry Inc.Alpaca Nation or ILoveAlpacas.com.

When pregnant, an alpaca almost always delivers one baby.  While twins are possible, this is very uncommon, and if they do give birth to twins, the survival rate is very low.

Do alpacas spit?  Most do not, but if you do see the ears pinned back and they are staring at you, they may keep the aggressor at bay.  Alpacas may also spit to let another male known she’s not interested in any advances or as a way to keep competitors away from the food.

How can I save money?

Some breeders, just like the one we mentioned above, may offer financing options.  If you can’t afford the full payment up front, see if you can start a payment plan.

An alpaca rescue may be in your area and may be something to check out.  Similar to adopting a cat or dog, these alpacas, commonly older, are looking for a forever home.


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