Monday, May 4, 2009

Alpaca Farming: A Thriving Ohio Business

By Allison Herman

While Ohio is more commonly known as the Buckeye State, you may be surprised to know that it is also the Alpaca capitol of the United States. More Ohioans are getting in on the Alpaca farming business with good reason - it is incredibly profitable.

Kittle explains the different ways to sell Alpaca fleece.

Keith Kittle is an Alpaca farmer in Athens County. He started Pleasant Hill Alpaca Farm three years ago. "Other livestock don't have the profit potential that alpacas do," Kittle said.
By day he is an instructor at Hocking College, but after a long day of work, he still finds time to care for his animals.

Kittle talks about a day in the life of an Alpaca Farmer.

The profit potential with Alpacas is two-fold. Kittle breeds and raises the furry animals for sale, as well as for their fleece. With just about 100,000 Alpacas in the United States, the animals are in high demand. The average Alpaca sells for between $10,000 and $20,000. Kittle owns 12.

The animals are shorn once a year and their hair is sent to a processor to be strung into yarn. While the hair is processed in West Virginia, Kittle sells the yarn locally at The Tattered Corner in Athens.
Alpaca farming can be a profitable business, but it is not recession-proof. Kittle says Alpaca farming has been hit - just as every other industry is affected by the down economy.

Kittle explains how Alpaca farming has been hurt by the economy.

Profit is not the only reason to farm Alpacas. Kittle says his huggable investment is kid friendly too. He has two young daughters, and he trusts the animals to play with his children.
To buy the finished product, you can visit The Tattered Corner, located at 18 Station Street in Athens.

For more information about the Alpaca breeding industry in Ohio visit the The Ohio Alpaca Breeders Association's website.

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