1. BulletWho raises alpacas?

Alpaca owners and breeders come from all walks of life. Many are doctors, financial advisors, educators, retired firefighters or human resources directors, or cattle farmers, to name a few. Some raise alpacas as a full-time business, others commit part-time. From young families to empty-nesters, phased retirement to full-retirement, raising alpacas offers countless options for everyone.

  1. BulletWhy do people raise alpacas?

Alpacas offer a very attractive business and farming opportunity no matter where you live:  urban, suburban, or rural. Urban dwellers can board (or "agist") their alpacas at nearby farms/ranches, such as Brookfarm, so that they can enjoy the benefits of ownership while living in a large city or suburb. People also raise alpacas for companionship and to enjoy a rural lifestyle.

  1. BulletHow do you transport an alpaca?

If traveling for short distances, they can be transported inside vans or other larger vehicles. Most folks put down a piece of old carpeting or inexpensive Astro-turf to minimize the impact on the vehicle's carpeting in case an "accident" were to occur. Most of the time, however, the animals will "cush" (that is, sit down) for the journey. Longer distances generally require transport in a livestock trailer, which can be as simple as an old 2-horse trailer, or a fancy top-of-the-line alpaca trailer.

  1. BulletHow much acreage does it take to raise an alpaca?

Because alpacas require little pasture and food, you can usually raise five to ten alpacas per acre, depending on terrain, rain/snowfall amounts, availability of pasture, etc. Alpacas can also be raised on dry lot and be fed orchard grass hay, if desired. Consult with your local County Extension Officer for specific local recommendations.

  1. BulletAre alpacas easy to care for?

Alpacas are a small and relatively easy livestock to maintain. They stand about 36 inches tall at the withers (the point where the neck and spine come together), weigh between 150-200 pounds, and establish communal dung (that’s a nice way of saying poop) piles that are easy to manage. The alpacas need basic shelter and protection from heat and foul weather, and being livestock, they do require certain vaccinations and anti-parasitic medicines. Additionally, their toenails need to be trimmed every couple of months and the fleeces sheared off once a year. Speaking of toenails, these animals do not have hooves-they have two toes, with hard toenails on the top of their feet and a soft pad on the bottom of their feet, much like a dog's foot. Therefore, you don't experience compaction of the soil to same degree that you would with other types of livestock.

  1. BulletCan you raise alpacas in in extreme climates like Arizona or Alaska?

The answer is generally yes. Alpacas have proven to be amazingly resilient animals. Alpacas are being raised successfully in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and also in Alaska and many Canadian provinces. Certainly, in the hotter, more humid climates, the alpaca breeder does need to take health and safety precautions, like shearing fleeces off early in the year, providing plenty of fresh water to drink and dip their bellies into, and areas of shade.

  1. BulletWhat type of shelter and fencing do alpacas need?

Shelter and fencing varies widely, depending on such things as weather and predators. But as a general rule, the alpacas do need at least a three-sided, open shelter where they can escape inclement weather. And if predators are present in your neighborhood, then a minimum of five-foot-high, 2" by 4" no-climb fencing is necessary to keep out the predators. Traditional horse fencing (with 4" by 4" openings) is not recommended, as curious alpacas might be physically harmed if they put their heads through that type of fencing. Here at Brookfarm, we team up with our Maremmas for adequate protection from all things that “go bump in the night”!

  1. BulletWhat do alpacas eat?

The main thing alpacas eat is just grass or hay, (orchard grass hay) and not much of it-approximately two pounds per 125 pounds of body weight per day. A single, 60-pound bale of hay can generally feed a group of about 20 alpacas for one day. Alfalfa is discouraged or fed only sparingly, as it has high protein content that can be unhealthy for the animals. Additionally, all alpacas require access to free-choice mineral supplements and plenty of fresh water to drink.

  1. BulletAlpaca beans?

Alpacas make use of a selected dung pile, which facilitates pasture clean up. Their beans (poop) are one of the richest organic fertilizers available and do not have to be composted before spreading in your garden.


About Alpacas   Maintenance/Care   Characteristics    Fiber   Reproduction   Earth-Friendly   The Lifestyle    History   Etiquette
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CARE  & MAINTENANCE

   
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Debbie & Mark Emery
Glen Ellen, California
brookfarmalpacas@mac.com
Tel & Fax:  707.996.0350
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