With the warm weather we are now looking forward to shearing, birthing and our summer show timetable. Why come to the farm and enjoy a relaxing farm walk and see the babies bounding round the field. Not only can you view the extensive range of all things alpaca, you can also get close up to […]
Alpacas are among the rarest domestic livestock in the world. Today there are around 3 million in all of South America. Countries importing them over recent decades include North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. In the UK we currently have around 40,000.
Alpacas are commonly raised for resale as genetic/breeding stock and for the sale of their precious fibre, but can also make wonderful pets. They are one of the premier livestock investments, and the market demand for their offspring and fibre is strong.
They come in 25 natural colours ranging from white to beige, fawn, brown, grey and black which means that the need to dye the fleece is reduced. The fleece is also free of lanolin, making the processing of the raw fibre relatively easy, without the use of harsh chemicals.
Their life span can be 20–25 years if well looked after and they are not an animal raised for slaughter. They are intelligent and in most part, non–aggressive and therefore easy to train. Inquisitive but shy, gregarious and extremely affectionate when well cared for and accustomed to their handler. They communicate with each other by humming and the use of body language, and have the most amazing big eyes with very long eyelashes. They are gentle around children so day to day care can be enjoyed by all the members of the family without risk of injury. They need little space and are easy on their environment. Stocking is 5–6 to an acre but in minimums of two, as they are herd animals and need to have at least one companion if they are to remain happy and healthy.
Although alpacas spit amongst themselves, it is as a way of expressing dominance. Females will spit at males when not receptive to breeding, but spitting at humans is as a response to fear.
They are very clean animals and use a central dung pile which is odourless, and when collected makes excellent fertiliser because it is low in nitrogen, which means it can be added directly to plants without burning their base.
Alpacas are ruminants and have three stomach compartments. Old meadow grass mixes are ideal for their diet. During the winter months when the grass lies dormant, good clean hay should be provided together with a recommended coarse mineral mix. They are gentle on the pasture as they have soft padded feet with two toes. An adult eats approximately 1 kg of hay a day.
Just like us, when our hair gets wet we very quickly become cold, therefore a minimal shelter against the rain, wind and sun is required.