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.