If you are thinking of getting rich by raising llamas, think again. The market for this animal has dropped drastically since the craze that really was in full force in the 1980's. In some areas of North America it is not uncommon to see some animals, particularly males, available for free. In Europe they may be more of a new thing and still somewhat in demand.
As with most ventures, if you want to make money, you have to spend money. If you want to make money with llamas, in addition to facilities you will need to start with quality animals and should plan on investing money in showing and promoting those animals. Finally you might expect to use their fleece to make products for the purpose of sale.
Selecting a Llama
You will want to buy only registered animals from reputable sellers. Be aware that being a registered does not mean an animal is a quality animal, it only means that the animals pedigree is known. In order to determine if an animal is good quality you must not only examine it yourself, but ask to see its show records and titles.
An animal who has not gone to shows, and does not come from parents who have not gone to shows is probably not a quality animal. Selection should include the fact that while one type of llama might be in high demand in one area, it may not be so popular in an other. There are three basic types of llamas.
1. Traditional Llamas often have more guard hairs than the other two types and have wool with loft, it is puffy.
2. Suri Llamas have longer fleece, and should have fewer guard hairs, the best of these are used to produce fiber. They are distinguished because their hair hangs in locks.
3. Silky Llamas also have long fleece and few guard hairs, they are also used to produce fiber. They are distinguished because their wool lies close to the body but does not form locks.
The four types of wool coverage are:
1. Classic Llamas have shorter coats and not too much longer wool on their heads, they are often used for guard animals or as pack animals. Since their coats are shorter they often do not require regular sheering, but therefore are not desired for fiber production.
2 & 3. Light and Medium, as the names explain these are the middle ranges of hair coverage and are not the cream of the crop when we talk about fiber production animals.
4. Heavy woolen llamas have heavy wool covering their body, necks and legs, they have good amount of wool on their foreheads and sometimes even between their toes.
How to Make Money
For profit making is must be noted that llamas have a long gestation, being eleven months to a year. They typically only have one baby, called a cria. As such breeding is a low money making opportunity. Most llama producers supplement their incomes by sheering and processing their animals fiber, and making products with it.
Some of the most common things made from llama fiber are mittens, scarves and socks. Although it can be dyed, many traditionalists prefer to leave it in natural tones. This is certainly an avenue worth considering if you want to make a profit with llamas.
You will need to show your animals to promote them, this is time consuming and costly, but it will get your name out there and will make any offspring more valuable. Of course registering your crias is important too.
Any inferior animals should be sold, and may be marketed as guard animals or for pack purposes. It is important that you do not get a name for yourself as only selling your poor quality animals, when you are established you must also be willing to sell some quality animals, and will make money doing so after you have shown your animals to prove them worthy of breeding.
Finally remember that profit in livestock such as llamas is more difficult due to the fact they are not accepted as food animals. There is no need for most people to buy animals other than as novelty pets.