Top 7 Tips for Raising Alpacas


Most of you are familiar with the typical animals people raise in their farms, but how familiar are you with raising alpacas?

Top tips for keeping alpaca’s include making sure you have more than one alpaca, having plenty of hay and land for your alpaca’s, having a shelter for the alpaca for inclement weather, having plenty of water available, having minimal fencing for your alpaca’s, and making sure to shear and toenail clip your alpaca.

Read on to find out some interesting facts about alpacas.

Why alpacas

You might not have heard of alpacas being raised, but they are growing in popularity in the United States.

This is because of a few reasons.

First, alpacas have wool that is pretty easy to work with.

Alpaca wool doesn’t have the lanolin that other animal wool has.

This makes the wool easier to prepare, as it doesn’t need to be washed as many times as other wool.

Second, they can produce about 10 lbs of wool a year.

To put that in perspective, a sheep can produce anywhere between 2 and 30 lbs of wool a year.

A sheep will average 7 lbs of wool a year, so alpacas will give you more.

Also, if you live in a colder area, alpacas are perfect for you.

Because of their wool, they can stay pretty warm during the winter seasons and you will have to do very little for them.

When it comes to the hotter weather, though, you will need to make sure to shear their wool off, otherwise, they could get hot and overheat.

Otherwise, there are a few things you need to do for your alpacas.

Alpacas are also really good to have because their walking isn’t a strain on your land.

While a horse or cow can dig into the ground while they are walking around, alpacas are pretty light on their feet and won’t dig up the ground much like a horse or cow would.

This means that you might be able to plant things around your yard and no worry so much about your alpacas ruining them.

Have more than one alpaca

Alpacas are very much herd animals, they like to be surrounded by their own kind.

So you should make sure you have more than one alpaca if you are going to raise them.

Otherwise, they are going to be very bored.

Also, if there are other alpacas around, this means you are less likely to get spit on.

While alpacas do in fact spit, that treatment is usually saved for between other alpacas.

So you’ll also need to be careful not to get in between alpacas when they are fighting.

Have plenty of hay and land

Comparatively, alpacas don’t actually need a whole lot of hay to survive.

For example, a 60 lbs bale of hay will last 10 alpacas 2 days if that is their main source of food.

That means if you have 3 alpacas, as mentioned, above, you will probably get at least 6 days of feeding on that 60 lb bale of hay.

It is actually quite a bit for the size of the animals that you are trying to feed.

They also like the leafier kind of hay as well, so try to get that hay if at all possible.

If you don’t want to purchase hay for your alpacas to feed on, you can also purchase land and have them graze on that land.

For example, an acre of land should be able to sustain 5 or 6 alpacas with very few problems.

If your land is more of the barren kind, then you might need to supplement what they are getting with some more hay.

But if your land has plenty of grass and hay, then 5 to 6 alpacas should be able to graze very comfortably on your land.

The nice things about alpacas is they don’t eat at the root of whatever you have planted on your land.

So that means the plant can come and grow back, whereas a sheep might eat the plant and the root, since they are desparate to get whatever they can.

Have a shelter

Things a pretty simple for alpacas and shelters.

You can have a barn for them if you want.

But what they really need is just a 3 sided shelter.

This will give them enough coverage to get out of any inclement.

This would include wind, rain, and snow.

Make sure to one of the walls of the shelter is set up facing where the wind comes from.

This means that you are protecting the alpacas from the wind using the shelter.

The 3 sided shelter will help them stay away from the rain and snow, which could make them cold, since their wool will need some time to dry off.

Also, alpacas loved the shade, no matter in what way you give it to them.

So this means that they could do with a 3 sided shelter, but if you have a grove, or just a few trees, then that should be enough to give the alpacas the shade that they need.

Have plenty of water

As with most animals, alpacas need access to plenty of water in both the summer and in winter weather.

Since they are such large animals, they need to replenish any fluids that they expend.

So this means they are going to need a lot of water.

On average, alpacas can drink anywhere between 2 to 5 gallons of water per day, and even more in hotter weather.

This can seem like quite a cumbersome task, but make sure you are up to it if you are going to have alpacas.

It can lead to serious health issues for the alpacas if they are not being provided with enough water.

Have minimal fencing

Having had animals that range from chickens to pigs to sheep, I personally look forward to hearing about animals that don’t need that much fencing to keep them in.

Chickens are always going to get out of your yard and walk around to find bugs and some place to lay their eggs that are hidden from you.

We once found up to 10 eggs in a place in our yard that we didn’t even know our chickens are getting into.

Pigs are going to constantly look for ways to get under your fence so they can rummage around for food in someone elses yard, so you can constantly looking for your pig so they aren’t getting into your neighbors garden.

And sheep wait for the moment that fence gate opens so they can get running out and causing you trouble.

But with alpacas, you only need minimal fencing to keep them in.

Alpacas aren’t much of wanderers and they aren’t the adventurous type like your pigs.

They also aren’t very good at protecting themselves.

So while it is imporant to keep the alpacas in, you mostly want to worry about keep predators out.

A welded wire or chicken wire fence should be more than enough to keep your alpacas in.

They obey the property line pretty well.

But you will also want to avoid using anything that might hurt the alpaca, like barbed wire.

If you feel the need to protect the alpacas, make sure to put the barbed wire or other protection on the outside of the fence.

This will help keep the alpacas from getting hurt on the barbed wire (though it doesn’t 100% guarantee that the alpacas won’t stick its head over the fence and get hurt).

Your best bet might be to get a guard animal, like a dog, that can help protect the alpacas from any predators that might come by.

Shear your alpaca

It is important that if you live in a cold area, that the alpaca is able to keep itself warm.

But that also means that at the beginning of spring/summer, you will want to make sure to shear your alpaca in preparing for the hotter weather.

As mentioned before, alpacas can give you 10 lbs or more of wool each year, which you can then use or sell.

And shearing alpacas should be pretty easy, since they are pretty docile creatures.

You should only have to shear them once a year, as well.

Clip your alpaca’s toenails

Just like you have to do with yourself or your kids, you will need to clip the toenails of your alpaca.

Depending how much your alpaca runs around your land will tell you how often you need to clip their toenails.

An alpaca that is pretty active will only need to have their toenails clipped at most every 3 months.

If your alpaca is on the older side or your alpacha doesn’t walk around that much, you looking to clip their toenails around every 6 to 7 weeks.

And again, because their pretty docile creatures, it should be pretty easy to clip their toenails.

Summary

If you are considering keeping animals, and specifically raising and selling wool from animals, then alpacas might be a great option for you.

Alpacas are pretty docile creatures and they are pretty easy to take care of.

Just make sure to provide them plenty of food and water, give them a shelter to stay away from inclement weather, shear them once a year and clip their toenails on a regular basis.

Then you should have some pretty happy alpacas.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

Recent Content