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Health & Husbandry

Alpacas are a joy to raise, lovable and endearing animals that are a true pleasure to be around and to work with. There docile nature and natural curiosity makes for easy handling and yet they are hardy and adapt well to many different climates around the world. 

Alpacas are easy to halter train. We start halter training our alpacas when they are being weaned from there mothers (at around 5-6 months of age depending on their weight). New breeders/owners of alpacas can reach out to us and we can teach them how to handle these animals in a calm and safe way. 

Alpacas are easily at home in a small paddock with a few buddies or in a large field in a herd of alpacas. They will happily graze with other livestock, although they will compete at the feed troughs when the grain comes out. These animals can not be kept alone, under any circumstance. We recommend a small group of three alpacas if you want to stay small, nothing less than three though. 

These lovable creatures communicate amongst themselves by body posture, tail and ear positions and a variety of soft humming noises. They warn each other if they feel crowded by doing what we call an alarm call (a high pitch sound almost like a donkey) and spit at each other if necessary. They are rarely aggressive to humans and spit only when mishandled. They are safe to be around young children, our alpacas adore our grandkids. 

Alpacas are ruminants who are exceptionally efficient converters of grazing happily on pasture grass, with hay and supplement recommended in winter, during lactation, and the final stages of pregnancy and for any young alpacas (weanlings). Hay should be available all year round. Alpacas are browsers as well as grazers and do enjoy stripping trees of leaves during the summertime. The common toxic plants such as: Ragwort, Laurel, Laburnum, and Yew should be avoided within grazing areas. Year round checks of your pastures should be done to ensure your animals safety. Access to clean drinking water is essential at all times, they will dehydrate rather than take sour water.

There soft padded feet do very little damage to wet past ground during grazing and they do not pull plants from the root when grazing. Overall, they do very little damage at all on our pastures. 

Alpacas have a habit of defecating at a small number of fixed poop piles and avoid grazing around these sites. This makes for spread of parasite infestation low and cleaning of pastures much easier. There dung does make for excellent fertilizer!

The female alpaca can be ready for breeding at around 12 to 18 months of age or when she has reached about 65% of her final body weight. They are included ovulaters and can be bred all year round. Pregnancy confirmation is usually made by ultrasound testing. The gestation period is typically 11 1/2 months and will produce one baby or 'cria', with twins being rare, recently estimated at around one in evert 2000 births. Alpacas are devoted mothers and the cria will suckle until weaning at six months of age. Males will be mature from about 2 1/2 years of age. A sensible management plan will ensure spring or early summer births with shearing running late spring/early summer.

Updated June 25, 2022