Welcome to Melody Moon Ranch Alpacas!

Taking Care of Business, Everyday
(Randy Bachman)

Bachman Turner Overdrive said it best…We’re takin’ care of business everyday. Raising alpacas is a multi-faceted and exciting business. The primary focus of our business is selling the alpacas and their incredibly versatile fleece. There are few words to describe what baby alpaca fleece feels like…angel’s hair? The other aspects of our business focus on profitability, meeting consumer demands and providing our clients the best possible service and support anywhere. What a concept, get paid to do what you love and make new friends as you go. As in any business, start-up costs can be considerable, including barns, pens, feeders, marketing, equipment, travel to shows, halters, feed, and of course a bit of land. A major profit center is buying and selling animals for genetic breeding stock. The business of actively selling and breeding alpacas in the US has only been in force for a relatively short time, so there is good market demand for top-notch breed stock. In other words, the current breeders’ market is very strong.


Melody Moon

Fleece is the Word

When you think of alpaca fleece, think of rare diamonds, filet mignon, fine champagne, and luxury garments of all kinds. Alpaca is truly one of the world’s most desired and requested fibers because of its luxurious qualities; it is hypoallergenic and as versatile as cotton or wool.

John and I figured out pretty quickly that there is an entire vocabulary surrounding the word fleece. It was like learning a foreign language; words like: crimp style, micron count, luster, brightness, staple length, bundling, fineness, density, and guard hair (sounds scary) are now part of our everyday lingo around the ranch. We strive to raise the highest quality fiber producing alpacas we can. With today’s expanding global consumer demand for alpaca fleece it is vital that the product we sell is of the finest quality and up to the strictest of industry standards.

From large processing mills to individual hand spinners; alpaca fleece is processed much like wool or other animal fibers. However, alpaca fleece is considered royalty in fiber production circles and the demand for processed alpaca fleece simply cannot be met by current US production methods.

For centuries, the populations of Peru, Bolivia and other South American countries have profited from the sale and manufacture of alpaca products. The alpaca business in the United States is growing exponentially and as a result, fiber mills of all sizes are popping up throughout our country. Any product that can be made from wool can be made from alpaca. Alpaca fleece produces a high yield of clean fiber after processing: 85 to 95 percent for alpaca versus 43 to 76 percent for sheep's wool. Alpaca is easier and less expensive to process than sheep's wool due to its lack of lanolin, and it does not have to be de-haired like cashmere or camel. It also does not have an “itch factor” and is hypoallergenic. Fleece prices vary widely dependent on many factors; many hand spinners will pay more than $6.00 per ounce for premium cria fleece.


Alpacas are happy with moderate pasture grasses, hay, and a special pellet supplement made specifically for alpacas by several different mills. We feed our herd free choice minerals, orchard grass hay and an occasional treat of beet pulp. Alpacas do not need much land to thrive. A good rule of thumb in the industry is 8 animals per acre, but that is dependant upon your lack or abundance of natural forage.

Since alpacas have no natural defenses against predators (save running like crazy) fences are a must. Guard animals, like dogs and llamas are also a good idea to help keep your herd safe and stress free. Shelter can be as simple as a pole barn or a heated and cooled mega-structure depending on what summers and winters are like in your area of the country. Their natural habitat is the Andes mountains in South America…big hint there…

Alpacas are normally shorn once a year. Because the spring heat in Central Texas can be in the 90’s or higher, most herds are shorn in March or April. An average shearing day will last 12-14 hours, shearing 80-100 alpacas. A full grown male alpaca can sometimes yield over 11 lbs of fleece but a trained and experienced shearer can shear such an animal in about 8 minutes. It is a marvel to watch. Shearing patterns are very important; there is a difference in shearing a fleece to be processed for yarn, and a fleece that will be judged in a show.

At the end of a good shearing day, the two-leggers (humans) are hot, sweaty, filthy, fleecy, exhausted and ready to enjoy a cold beer, a bite to eat and good company! The alpacas however have forgotten the stress of shearing, and quietly hum in the pasture enjoying their cooler haircuts, new pedicures and clean trimmed teeth. Their fleeces have been gathered, sorted, weighed, bagged, graded and are ready for cleaning and processing. All they have to do now is grow next year’s coat.


‘Cause I’m the Taxman
(George Harrison)

There are two major types of tax considerations regarding raising alpacas according to IRS publication #225 entitled Farmer’s Tax Guide. It is probably best for anyone getting into the alpaca business to consult a knowledgeable accountant to further explain and help implement the benefits of this IRS publication.

Basically, there are two ways to invest in alpacas, hands-on ownership and passive ownership. Both methods can significantly offset taxes on regular income.

Melody Moon Ranch LLC is a hands-on operation. We are able to expense such things as feed, veterinary costs, fertilizer, and are also able to depreciate tangible items like barns, ranch vehicles and equipment. We raise our own animals on our own land and they are our business for making profit.

The passive owner using the agisted ownership approach may not enjoy all of the tax benefits discussed here but many of the advantages apply. For instance, the passive alpaca owner can depreciate breeding stock and expense the direct cost of maintaining the animals. The main difference between a hands-on or active ownership and passive ownership involves the passive owner's ability to deduct losses against other income. The passive investor may only be able to deduct losses from investment against gain from the sale of animals and fleece. The active rancher can take the losses against other income.

Alpaca breeding allows for tax-deferred wealth building. An owner can purchase several alpacas and then allow the herd to grow over time without paying income tax on its increased size and value until he or she decides to sell an animal or sell the entire herd.

Alpacas are also classified as livestock by the USDA and not exotic stock; therefore, they qualify for many agricultural exemption programs.


Peaceful Easy Feeling
(Jack Tempchin)

Caring for alpacas is much less complex than caring for other types of livestock. They are stoic animals and require minimal vet care if you take good measures to keep them healthy. Over time, John and I have learned to administer many of our own annual injections and medications; although I am sure our poor animals thought they were pin cushions at first. We also have a great vet that is knowledgeable in all areas of alpaca health and we confer with her before we treat any animal. We’ve learned how to spot parasites in our herd, how to trim toe nails and teeth. (Yes, you read that correctly, we trim teeth) and how to recognize unusual behavior in just about any alpaca.

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