History | Why
Buy Alpacas | Alpaca
Care | Related
Of all livestock you can own, the alpaca is one of the easiest and most
inexpensive to maintain. This factor contributes significantly to their
overall investment value and the quality of life of those who care for
them. Small wonder that the alpaca is now considered the world's finest
Their physical needs are simple and "user friendly" for the new owner
as well as the experienced alpaca farmer:
Since alpacas have survived several millennia in the harsh cold of
the high Andes, they have developed a remarkable ability to be comfortable
during the worst of our winters (if only the same could be said of their
human caretakers). A three-sided shelter with the open side facing east-southeast
is usually adequate. The maximum number of animals you plan for that area
should determine the size of shelter.
In warm weather, alpacas need shade and airflow. Make sure your shelter
and/or barn has adequate ventilation and be prepared to use fans in these
areas on warm, muggy days.
Clean, fresh water should also be available in or near the shelter.
Alpacas do not consume much water, but they will resist drinking stale
or dirty water.
The efficiency of the alpaca is especially noticeable when you consider
that they are highly developed ruminants with 3 stomachs and require much
less food intake than most animals their size.
If your pastures have adequate natural, non-fertilized grass, they will
content themselves to simply graze there. Alternating them between pasture
areas allows the grass to re-grow and fecal parasites to die before reusing
the areas. Ideally, rotation schedules at least two weeks long will allow
these desirable events to occur.
You can supplement grass intake with a low-protein grass hay. A little
alfalfa is okay, but you need to watch protein levels. Remember, your alpacas
are designed to utilize their food in a very efficient manner. Put their
hay in an area where it can stay dry and in a container that minimizes
Finally, most alpaca owners will add a small amount of commercial grain
prepared for alpacas to their animals' daily diet. The important value
of this is to provide selenium and other necessary vitamins, which cannot
be obtained from grass and hay in the United States.
The general rule is that five to ten alpacas can be easily and efficiently
maintained on one acre of usable land. This will vary depending on your
farm layout, the nature of your land, and other factors. Obviously, if
your pasture has a little grass and a lot of alpacas, you will need to
provide additional high-quality grass hay for your herd.
Alpacas are non-aggressive animals that do not "challenge" fences like
other types of livestock. Indeed, your fencing should be designed more
toward keeping predators out than keeping your alpacas in. This suggests
a height of at least five feet and mesh openings no more than four inches
Red Ghost Alpacas will be happy to provide consultation regarding the
type of fencing best suited for your alpacas. Contact us for any questions.
Under normal circumstances, your medical expenses for your alpacas
will be minimal. These are essentially hardy and healthy animals, toughened
by 5000 years of life in the hostile environment of the high Andes, and
protected by stringent import guidelines maintained by the US government
The standard regimen of care for the alpaca includes annual inoculations
and monthly worming. Toenails need to be trimmed every six months. As you
become more experienced, you may want to handle most of these procedures
and utilize your veterinarian only on an as-needed and consultative basis.
One of your first tasks in researching your alpaca options should be
to locate a qualified veterinarian near you who has specialized experience
in treating camelids, preferably alpacas. Your state veterinary association
will be able to assist you in this search.