Alpaca farms on the rise in NJ

January 28, 2008 5:36:27 AM PST

The nonprofit New Jersey Alpaca Community says there are about 90 farms and breeders in the Garden State. There were only about 20 known operations in 2001.

The animals are related to camels and are native to South America, where they were domesticated long before the arrival of Europeans.

Alpacas are prized for their wool.

New Jersey owners say breeding the animals is a profitable business -- and that the animals are low maintenance in comparison to other livestock.

The Tennessee-based Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association estimates a female alpaca can sell for $10,000 -- a male for $20,000 to $50,000.