Alpaca care

Alpacas eat mainly grass. They also require access to good quality hay throughout the year.

They must have access to clean fresh water at all times.

Alpacas can live over 20 years and fully grown weigh around 50-70kg. As they are herd animals they cannot be kept individually, and while they sometimes spit at each they are generally docile around humans. Although they are initially wary of being touched, once they have become used to the presence of people and being handled by them, alpacas may allow their backs and necks to be touched. Halter training helps the animals to get used to being around humans, and also allows owners to move and show their alpacas easily.

Alpacas require extra minerals and vitamins and we recommend Camelibra supplement. Typical ration is 75gms per day, so one 20kg bag should feed 20 alpacas for a month.

Jackie Porter of Little Park Farm & Exeter Alpaca Breeder taking care of her stockDuring winter months additional supplementation might be required, we recommend feeding twice a day during the winter when grass quality is poor. We also feed Fibregest during the winter months mixed in with the camelibra which is a high source of fibre and assists with digestion.

It is important that alpacas don’t get fat as this can prevent them getting pregnant. It can also cause problems during birth. Too much feed can also affect the quality of the fleece. Keeping a close eye on their weight can be done by body scoring regularly. This is easy to learn how to do and all breeders will be able to show you how do it before you purchase any alpacas. Males will score higher than females due the extra muscle along their spine, but shouldnt be allowed to get fat as it can effect potency.

Regular topping of your grass is necessary. Alpacas do not eat long grass. Their mouths are designed to nibble shorter grass and if the pasture is good quality then you can keep 4-6 alpacas per acre.

It is important to keep your pastures weed free.

Alpacas can live out most of the year. They will need shelter from wind, rain and sun. Field shelters are ideal for this but natural shade eg trees are always nice for them. It is advisable to have a barn for the animals to be brought into during really bad weather. (Alpacas may not always use their shelters!)

Alpacas are not sold as individuals. The minimum is two alpacas of one sex. Alpacas are a herd animal and if an alpaca cannot see another then it will get stressed.

Husbandry

Vaccinations

Alpacas, like all other livestock are vaccinated against clostridia disease on an annual basis

We are happy to show any new owner how to give injections and how to administer wormer etc.

Alpacas should also be vaccinated against liver fluke and are treated more so during wet months

Worming -Alpacas should be wormed when necessary. We send off faecal samples to be tested and only worm if the egg count is higher than advisable. This way the Alpaca is not building up a resistance to the wormer and by doing a faecal count on each animal you are able to assess them individually

Paddocks need to be kept as clean as possible to prevent worm contamination. It is advisable to clean (poo – pick!) your paddocks every other day. There are machines available to help you with this job!

Alpacas need their toe nails clipped every 12 weeks approximately. This is an easy process to learn and is essential to stop their nails from getting too long and twisted.

Vitamin A D & E 

Cria need extra vitamins to help them develop during their first year. This can be given in injection form or oral paste. Vitamin A D & E can also be given to adults if they need a boost.

Mating

Mature males are always kept separately from the females even if confirmed as pregnant. This is necessary to avoid hyperactive males distressing the females by forcing their advances upon them. Also by keeping the males seperate you are able to control your breeding programme and by doing this you will know when she is due to give birth. The gestation of the Alpaca is eleven and a half months, approximately 340 days but can give birth between 335 days up to 370 and in some cases longer.

It is a good idea to put expectant mums in a paddock close to your house if possible.

Alpacas have one baby a year (called a cria, which is spanish for creation) the Hembra (female over 12 months old) Cria are usually born between the hours of 7am and 2pm. Alpacas do not always show signs that they are going into labour so it is advised to keep a close eye on her around her due date


Young alpaca cria at Exeter Alpaca Farm in Doddiscombleigh in DevonCrias
are normally weaned from their mothers at approximately six months by taking them away and placing them in a paddock preferably out of sight of their mothers. The cria will ‘cry’ for a few days and it is a pitiful heartbreaking sound. I dont know any alpacas breeder who isnt affected by weaning. You have to be strong and after a few days they usually get used to it. It is advisable to put the weanlings in with one or two ‘aunties’ to keep an eye on them.

The boys should be happy together for a while, the longer they can stay together the better. They will start to play fight at about 12-18 months. If a male becomes too aggressive towards the other males he will need to be put put into a paddock on his own but make sure he can still see the others.

Contact us on 01647 253 453 or get in touch online to find out more about our amazing Alpacas.

 

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