FAQ's I have a question

Do they need special shelter or fencing?

Alpacas need a shelter to allow them to get out of the rain, hail and the sun but they do not need to be brought in during bad weather and they do not need stabling. Alpacas do not challenge fences and so a 4 to 5 foot high fence is generally adequate, depending on predators in your area. Barbed wire should be removed because their fleece can get tangled in it and they can become trapped.

What do they like to eat?

Alpacas are semi-ruminants, surviving happily on grass throughout the year. Hay should be provided on an ad lib basis, particularly in the winter. Some owners provide a low protein supplementary feed which will usually include additional minerals and nutrients. A grazing regime of between 4-8 alpacas per acre is normal.

How big do alpacas get?

Alpacas weigh about 100 to 200 pounds and stand about 36 inches tall at the the highest part of the alpaca’s back. A new Cria (baby alpaca) weighs 14 to 23 pounds at birth. Adult females typically weigh between 125 and 175 pounds, while males are larger weighing 150 to 200+ pounds.

How easy are they on pasture land?

Alpacas are very gentle on the land because they have padded feet and therefore do not churn up the ground. They deposit their droppings in piles in only a few sites and cleaning up is easier than for most other animals.

Can I raise a single alpaca?

No, alpacas are a herd animal and will become stressed if kept alone for even short periods. They should be kept in groups of two or more. Alpacas can be pastured with other animals such as goats and sheep, and together may provide some protection from foxes and other small animals.  However, a good guard llama or appropriately trained guard dog is your best protection.

Are alpacas easy to handle and work with?

Alpacas are gentle and easy to handle. They can be halter trained very easily, especially when young. They occasionally spit but only when provoked such as when they are being vaccinated. Some will kick when being touched on their back legs but, if handled when young, they can be desensitized in this area. Alpacas only have lower teeth which meet on a hard upper pallet. They don't tend to bite, but sometimes pull at clothing to attract attention!

Do alpacas make good pets?

Alpacas make excellent pets. They are intelligent, easily trained and are very gentle with children. They are inquisitive, approaching people who stand and watch them. They will eat out of the hand if time is spent and training to lead by a halter is straightforward.

How long do alpacas live?

Alpacas have a lifespan of 20+ years.

Are they generally healthy animals?

Alpacas are extremely hardy. They contract very few diseases but do need vaccinations annually. Insurance is relatively inexpensive and vet bills are generally low.

How long is their gestation?

Alpacas have a gestation of about 11 1/2 months. They give birth to a cria (baby alpaca) that weighs about 15 to 20 pounds. Female alpacas tend to give birth in the late morning. They rarely have twins but, if they do, it is unusual for the cria to survive. The cria is weaned at about 5-6 months of age.

Are alpacas difficult to breed?

The females are generally bred between 15 and 18 months of age. They are induced ovulators and therefore can be bred at any time. The females are generally rebred 17 to 21 days after giving birth. Males become fertile at 18 months to 3 years of age. To ensure successful breeding programs, only the most outstanding males should be employed for breeding.

How are alpacas transported?

Alpacas are easy to transport in any covered trailer, or a minivan if just one or two are moved, as they generally lay down while traveling.

How often do they need shearing?

Alpacas need shearing once a year. A sheep or alpaca shearer is able to shear an alpaca using electric sheep shears in 10 to 20 minutes. On average, a fleece will weigh between 3 and 7 pounds but some high density stud males have fleece weights much higher.

What colors are alpacas?

There are 22 fleece colors ranging from white to fawns to browns to black, there are also grays and rose grays. They generally remain close to the color they are at birth, though some color changes may take place during the first six months.