Alpaca fiber will remain a cottage industry at least for the foreseeable future because there is a constant blurring of the lines when it comes to livestock sales vs fiber. You don't have to pick one (showing vs fiber), but you DO have to understand the difference and profit motives for both.
For years, folks that have had alpacas simply for fiber have been looked down upon as having "inferior" animals. Other folks still believe that their entire herd is "seed stock", when in fact all other livestock models say there is about 10% - 15% of the population are seed stock and the rest are "commercial". (Read my blog post about seed stock vs commercial) In most other livestock - commercial means market or meat animals. In our industry, up until now - it has meant nothing - because everyone thought everyone of their animals are "seed stock". I would like to define (for the purpose of this article), commercial animals are meant for the end use market (in the alpaca industry now - it is fiber) .
So now I have both seed stock, commercial and dual purpose animals in my herd. There are some animals that I dub "yarn animals" that would never do well in a typical AOBA show ring, so I simply don't show them and quietly breed them for the fiber market.
Alpaca United (an entity borne out of the Build a Tent Meeting), is going to try to "brand alpaca fiber" so that we can have a demand (commercially) for alpaca fiber. Yesterday I posted on FB (as well as someone else posting on Alpaca Nation) that having a link on the Alpaca United FB page to a Steering Committee/AOBA BOD member's website was one of the reasons I could not support them as a group. It caused so much controversy that Nick Hahn felt the need to email me a ridiculously long email about his credentials and stated "I know you're a leader in the industry and we need your understanding and support" and that "any breeder is free to post their site on AU page including you". And then he actively posted and encouraged people to post links to their farm pages on the AU Facebook page. NOW I ask you --- is that why you (if you did donate money), donated $250 for ? So that they can spend your money on Facebook ad (and it can be pricey) to send people to the Alpaca United page so that there are links to farm pages having nothing to do with fiber????
I will keep my $250 - because I can process at least 10 pounds of fiber at any mini mill in the country and get back MUCH more that a modest return and it won't take me 5 years.
Food to think about people . . . .