Getting Started in Alpacas
great animals to have. Even if you have not had stock before,
you can soon learn how to manage them.
Alpacas are herd animals and hence you need to have a minimum
of two alpacas as company for each other. People often start
with two wether alpacas - young boys who are not going to be
used for breeding. Do make sure that they are physically
wethered, as otherwise when they get older the testosterone
will rise and they will act as males and start fighting.
you buy a mum and her baby, called a cria, mum will still need
another adult alpaca to keep her company and together they
will protect the cria. Most females are sold pregnant,
so you do not need to buy a male alpaca. When the female has
had her next cria, a stud male can come visiting to get her
Males and females are kept in separate paddocks. You can
paddock alpacas with horses, cattle, sheep, kune kunes. Keep
dogs away from alpacas.
You need at least half an acre to keep two alpacas. They are equivalent to one stock unit
which is the amount of space and feed a sheep and lamb eats.
Although alpacas are bigger in size than sheep, they are more
efficient eaters. So if you have room for a a few sheep, you
have room for a couple of alpacas.
Alpacas are kept in normal farm paddocks, with usual
height 7 strand fence. They are at home on rough hilly ground, as well as flat pasture.
They like to have room to roam around, and are not happy in
small paddocks or pens.
Alpacas are hardy, coming from Peru and Chile, where the temperature varies from minus15 to plus 15 degrees Celsius. However they are not used to constant cold rain, so do provide shelter— trees, a hedge, or a shed. They will decide when they want to use it!
provide adequate feed for alpacas. You may need some hay
in winter, or in summer droughts. A supplementary "alpaca
nut" or pellet gives added vitamins and minerals that
alpacas are naturally deficient in.
If run with sheep, be aware sheep can crop the grass too low for alpacas to be able to graze it. Toxic plants are the same as for sheep and cattle, but alpacas are inquisitive and will try most things, so be careful.
are moved by walking behind them with outstretched
arms. They prefer not to be mustered by dogs, but
they do get used to dogs on the farm. Alpacas love cats and
will follow them, and will also come when called to a feed
Alpacas are also easy to
train to walk on a halter and a lead.