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Breeding alpacas: How an informal plan turned into farming success

1.5 min read

Exotic animals have a short shelf life in western Canada’s farming mainstream yet, Tiger Lily Ranch has endured since those heady ‘90s.

Carol Poole began her innovative business of raising alpacas at her Saskatchewan farm in 1996 when exotics like bison, ostrich, llamas and elk were all the rage.

Like her venture, her business formula is unique.

In a conversation on the FCC Knowledge Podcast: Talking Farm and Food, Poole says her business plan is more informal than written.

Forging partnerships

After running her farm on her own for a few years, she joined forces with Kelly Kokoski of Spruce Park Alpacas in 2005. Their business planning includes discussing plans and assessing their yearly budget for attending shows, advertising and marketing. They also review sales targets and future genetics purchases.

Their breeding program is the foundation of their informal business plan, and it’s what’s made their operation a going concern.

Poole, however, acknowledges she had no business plan when she began the farm.

“All I wanted was to own a hundred of them because I thought that they were the best thing in the whole world,” Poole recalls.

Now, Poole recognizes the importance of a written business plan and urges other farmers have one in place.

“You definitely should have a written business plan and you also should have an exit plan. I think that both of those are really important when you’re in a partnership,” she says.

Quality over quantity

While Carol Poole starting farming with the goal of owning 100 alpacas, she soon discovered quality over quantity was her key to success.

Two years after her first pair of alpacas, Poole understood it was better to own the best she could afford instead of 100 animals – quality was better than quantity. Recognizing high-quality males were easily available for purchasing stud services, she eyed obtaining five high-quality female alpacas.

“I discovered very quickly that it's not about owning a hundred of them – it’s about owning the very best that I can afford,” Poole says.

Her efforts have been successful, and Poole knows she has much to be proud of – a solid business relationship, good breeding stock and quality fleece from her herd.

For more about this singular alpaca enterprise, listen to FCC Knowledge Podcast: Talking Farm and Food.

Article by: Richard Kamchen

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