AGJ Alpaca Haven is creating a market for alpaca fleece

Denver Citizen
By: Brianna Crane
Photo: Courtesy of Denver Citizen  

Original content from Denver Citizen.        

IRON STATION – Mike Berlage and his wife, Lisa, started AGJ Alpaca Haven and Produce Farm about three years ago. And though they still have their regular 9-to-5 jobs, running the farm has become a business venture of its own.

“When we moved out here, my mother-in-law said ‘For 15 years I've wanted alpacas … now that you have a farm, what would happen if you got an alpaca?’” Mike Berlage said.

So the Berlages went to nearby Good Karma Ranch to learn more about running an alpaca farm, “and didn't leave there without getting alpacas,” Berlage said.

Right now the alpacas at the Iron Station farm are kind of in the pet stage, Berlage explained, but the idea is to breed them until they have more alpaca with lighter fleece.

“What we want to do is try to have a market for them,” Berlage said. “What the alpacan world needs is more animals … Sheep, there’s like 10 million sheep (in the United States). There’s 250,000 alpacas. If we could take our numbers up to sheep, the mills would then be more in favor to using (alpaca) fleece. Right now mills aren’t set up for their fleece.”

Berlage said China is buying cargo-loads of alpaca each week from Australia because many farmers have found that raising alpaca is more lucrative than the cattle farming business when there’s a decent market for fleece.

But creating a market in the United States is going to take time.

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