I was recently asked to describe Ohio, our home state here at Magical Farms, in terms of raising alpacas and how or why it would stand out among other possible locations for an alpaca farm. The question really got me thinking! Below are some of the thoughts I came up with and would love to start some discussion – if you’re in Ohio, what have I missed? If you’re in another state, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your location!
Ohio is one of the most active alpaca farming states in the country, and it makes a lot of sense if you consider our geography, general weather, relatively central location within the country and proximity to population centers, and our state’s strong agricultural roots. I’ll go into each of these in some detail:
You can of course find geographic diversity in Ohio, but for the most part we are relatively flat, the soil is very productive and tillable without the boulders of the northeast or red-clays and sand of the south, and based largely on Ohio’s size and agricultural history land is available in anything from small family farms to extremely large tracts to meet whatever your plans may be for your farm.
Our weather quite literally lends itself to raising livestock – we have four distinct seasons, each of them plays an important role, but none of them are so extreme as to be overly difficult for either the alpacas or their owners. Our summers get warm, but the hottest stretches are rarely for more than a couple weeks, and the evenings generally cool off enough that we do not have to go through extraordinary, expensive measures to protect the alpacas from heat stress. The winters get cold, but again not so extreme or drawn out as to be burdensome. Additionally it generally provides a strong enough freeze to help keep parasite populations in check. The spring and the fall are mild and beautiful and many Ohio alpaca farmers breed their females so the timing works out for a spring or fall baby – this reduces stress on the female giving birth, the owner tending to her, and gives the newborn cria a chance to really get on her feet and grow strong before the onset of either summer or winter. We have excellent rainfall and abundant water resources keeping the cost of hay and the costs or challenges of maintaining pasture low. It really is an idyllic setting for alpacas.
Ohio’s location, while not technically central in terms of mileage from the coasts, is extremely central in terms of our distance to population centers and accessibility. With interstates 90, 80, and 70 all running right though (and 64 touching the southern tip), we are an easy drive from a huge radius – this makes receiving visitors to your farm easier, the likelihood of receiving visitors to your farm higher, as well as finding professional transport for your animals very easy if needed. There are several excellent alpaca transporters who go through Ohio regularly on their way East… and then come right through again on their way back West. As a testament to this accessibility, Magical Farms holds the Breeder’s Choice Auction on-site in October, and the vast majority of our attendees are able to easily drive in whether coming from Upper New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, the Mid-West, Texas, and more.
Ohio’s strong agricultural roots are an incredible resource for Ohio alpaca farmers. Just about anywhere in the state one can find a huge network of support – whether it is a vet who already has substantial camelid experience, a local hay provider (or you if you want to grow your own) who can produce abundant and inexpensive hay, the farmer co-ops, state sponsored educational opportunities and agricultural extension programs, or the kid down the street who grew up on a family dairy farm and can reliably watch your herd for you when you go out of town – they’re all available and abundant in Ohio.
Just as important as all of the above is our community of alpaca farmers themselves. Ohio has a robust and very active alpaca community and we are always learning from each other, helping each other, supporting each other, participating in the industry at shows, events, and more. It is a great group and we are lucky to have it and be a part of it.
Here’s to the Buckeye State!