The following is a guideline for the basic care of alpacas:
Shelters are mostly needed to provide shade in summer and protection from winter’s cold wind, snow, or rain. For most climates a three-sided run-in shed that does not face into the wind or sun will satisfy the basic needs of your alpacas. Colder climates might need a barn that is closed in for the winter months, particularly for cria care.
A perimeter fence, which provides adequate protection from predators, is a neccessary requirement. Most alpaca breeders prefer 5-foot no-climb fencing. Since alpacas rarely challenge a fence, its primary purpose is to keep predators out. Most alpaca breeders also have guard dogs or Llamas in the pastures as well to prevent predators such a wild dogs or coyotees from crossing the fence lines.
The pasture land requirements are minimal compared with other livestock animals. The general rule is no more than 7 -9 alpacas per acre. You will need to have separate pastures for breeding males, breeding females, and weanlings/juveniles. You will also need to clean up the poop piles on a regular basis. Alpacas typically all go in the same area and frequently at the same time which makes clean up an easier task.
Good grass hay (burmuda or orchard grass typically) will do. Each alpaca will consume around 1-2 pounds a day, depending on the pasture. Alpacas also receive a grain mixture with mineral supplements included 1 – 2 times a day. Fresh, clean water must be available at all times as well.
This is a small area, usually near the barn or shed, to catch your alpacas in to perform necessary maintenanace and health checks. Training your alpacas to enter this area when instructed is a vital part of the mainenance process. Pins should not be larger than 9’ x 9’ to allow the alpacas room to move but not enough room to get hurt trying to esacpe.
Alpacas are very healthy animals that usually reqire very little mainentance. There is currently no disease that is specific to them. They are, however, subject to some diseases carried by other animals and require annual vaccination. The white-tail deer are carriers of the meningeal worm which is a most dangerous parasite for alpacas. In areas with white-tail deer present alpaca are usually treated for worms monthly. A typical vaccination for this worm is Ivomec. Most alpaca breeders also vaccinate for rabies and CDT on an annual basis.
Alpacas are fiber-producing animals and are sheared once a year for their fiber. Most alpaca breeders will sheer in the spring to keep the alpacas cool in the summer months.
Alpacas that have good jaw allingment rarley need their teeth trimmed. Front incisors that protrude beyond the top gum line may need to be sawed on occasion. Mature males that have developed fighting teeth in the back of their palates may need these cut off to prevent injury to other alpacas.
Alpacas have a padded foot with two toes. Alpacas toenails grow and usually require periodic trimming if they are not worn down naturally. If the nail bends over the side of the pad or protrudes, it needs to be trimmed. Grass pastures do not wear the nails down, so most alpacas will require a trim at least twice a year.
You will need to have scales to weigh any cria when born. You should also have scales for weighing the adult alpacas as well. It is a good idea to keep a wight record of all your alpacas to ensure health and proper feeding habits.
Halters, leads, and sorting wands are used to move alpacas around and are a necessary tool if traveling is part of your process. In the summer months keeping alpacas cool in the warmer climates is vital. Most breeders use large industrial fans, lots of shade, and in the hottest months even sprinklers. Alapacs generally have a good nature and welcome those who care for them into the pastures and will commingly following you right into the barn or pin area that they are fed in. It’s easy to enjoy your time with these animals and most find it very rewarding.
For further information or to schedule a farm visit please feel free to contact us any time.