Adequate grazing should be provided for the number of animals kept.
The stocking rate for alpacas varies depending upon whether the grass being grazed by the alpacas is of a native low density variety, also referred to as rough grazing, grassland under five years of age and grassland over five years of age. The stocking rate of alpacas not only depends upon the amount of grass but also the quality (energy and protein) available which is dependent on the frequency and intensity of the grazing schedule and the mixture of species found in the lay.
In general the stocking rates for alpacas are as follow
– Rough grazing land: 4 to 5 alpacas per acre – Permanent pasture which is over five years old: 5 to 6 per acre. – Temporary pasture which is less than five years old: 6 to 8 per acre. – 4 alpacas can be kept on 1 an acre of pasture if well maintained and supplementary feed supplied when needed.
In the winter months alpacas in high nutritional demand such as lactating females and weanlings may need supplementary feeding. Hay or haylage should also be offered all year round to provide fibre for the digestive system.
Four-foot sheep fencing using stock netting is suitable for alpacas because they rarely jump. Barbed wire should be removed. Post and rail and electric tape fencing can also be used, but avoid electric netting because animals can become entangled.
It is advisable, if possible, to rotate grazing, allowing land to recover. Grazing grass very short -less than 4 cm – for prolonged periods can stop it recovering reducing productivity. Maintaining grass height at 4-6 cm is ideal for set stocking. Taller grass especially if has gone to seed has lower nutritional value
Foot rot is not common in alpacas, but if conditions are extremely wet for prolonged periods, there should be an area of drier ground provided.
Alpacas are hardy animals and may be able to live outside all year round, providing they have some form of field shelter which they utilise. An effective shelter, large enough for all the alpacas in the field, is especially important in areas of the country that have more extreme (especially wet) weather.
For larger herds housing in larger buildings (barns or purpose built livestock sheds) overnight, or for longer periods, is a sensible approach in periods of sustained poor weather or for sensitive groups (e.g. newly weaned cria). Larger buildings may benefit from internal penning and should have adequate ventilation, feeding area and water supply if they are in regular use.
In larger fields, it is advisable to have a small enclosure or catch pen. By feeding animals here they will become accustomed to the area and it will make catching them easier for routine husbandry, training or veterinary care.
Paddocks must be checked for toxic plants and flowers. Remember that the animals’ long neck allows them to reach further than others. The BAS produce a handy Toxic plant leaflet which you can see here.
When moving alpacas in a trailer they should not be tied to the trailer in any way, they will usually sit in transit.
Flooring to the trailer should be capable of being disinfected – ideally rubber to provide the animals with some form of grip.
Adult males and females should travel separately and can be divided by a solid partition.
Travelling time must be monitored. Animals may only be in transit for nine hours out of each 24.
About the British Alpaca Society
The British Alpaca Society (BAS) currently has 1500 members representing 45000 alpacas spread in various densities all over the UK. We have regional groups from west Wales to East Anglia and from Lands End to John O’Groats. The BAS is a membership society dedicated to the welfare of alpacas and the education of their owners in the UK. The BAS, via its regional groups, provides information, support and events for alpaca owners, breeders and all those interested in alpacas. The Society keeps its members up to date with all alpaca news and initiatives in the UK.
Join the British Alpaca Society today and become part of a national community, dedicated to all things alpaca. Membership offers knowledge, networking and support to help you protect your investment and work towards your own alpaca aspiration.