Alpaca 101- All About The Alpaca
Here is a great blog is written by Cynthia. Cynthia is one of our pet sitters here at Love and Kisses Pet Sitting. She owns her very own Alpaca farm Healing Hearts Alpacas, and wanted to let everyone know “All about Alpacas”
First off not only are alpacas so darn cute but there is more to that cute face and the hum that they make. They came from South America, Peru, Chile,& Bolivia. The garments woven from alpaca fiber was only allowed to be worn by Royalty.
There are two kinds of alpaca that most Alpaca farmers raise. The Huacaya pronounced “Wu-ki-Ya”. They are the Teddy Bear of alpacas. Then we have the Suri Alpaca pronounced “ Sur-e “ . They have long heavy like thin strands of fiber. We raise alpacas for their amazing fiber. Some use it to make softer than cloud yarns and roving’s for hand spinners and felters. Some take their fleece and enter it into Alpaca shows and Spin-offs. When we do this, the fiber judge that is AOA certified will give you information about your fiber to help you make important decisions about what to use this alpaca’s fiber for and to help with your future breeding program decisions. Low Micron, 26 and below, is what we are breeding for. Alpaca is not only Oh So Soft, but it is Antimicrobial, Moisture Wicking, and Hypoallergenic. Alpaca does not have Lanolin in it like Wood does. Our alpacas are DNA tested, Micro chipped and registered like a pedigree dog is.
You do not need much land to keep alpacas. You can keep up to 8 alpacas on 1 acre of land, either Dry lot or pasture. Since Alpacas are herd animals, they need to be purchased in pairs, never alone. Males are to always be separated from the females even if they are gelded. The drive to mount a female is very strong in a male alpaca and a female can get pregnant any time of the year if that male is not gelded. They carry a cria for 11 to 12 months. Normally giving birth to one cria within 11 ½ months. But they can go early or late!
They need fresh clean water daily, free choice minerals made for alpacas, Alpaca feed which has the special nutrients for ONLY Alpacas, Orchard Hay, Shelter from the wind, and cold, and in the Summer, fans are installed in a shelter or barn low so when they cush, which means Lay Down. This way the fan can blow on them and help keep them cool. We use automatic temperature controlled fans, so they come on automatically. Spraying them under their bellies and legs is another way to help keep them cool on a Hot Humid day down South.
Keeping Alpacas separated from goats and sheep and other livestock is another good idea. Since goats and sheep can transfer parasites to alpacas. Alpacas normally poop in one communal poop pile where goats and sheep poop everywhere. We do fecals every season change to check for parasites and we also check their eye membranes using the Famacha test. We only deworm when needed to help prevent parasite resistance to dewormers. Make sure you have a good Livestock Guardian dog or a full-size Llama to help protect your sweet alpacas from predators or even neighborhood family dogs.
We shear our Huacaya alpacas once a year in the Springtime. This keeps the alpacas cool during the Hot Summer months down South. During shearing, we trim their teeth, which grow like a horses teeth, for the males they have fighting teeth that must be trimmed. Alpacas do not have upper teeth, like a goat. During shearing when they are stretched out on a mat, ( No it does not hurt them ) we also trim their toenails and give any shots that are needed for the year. Ivermectin SQ shots once a month are needed in our area. The White Tail Deer’s fecal matter can carry the Menigial Worm larva. It is said to be carried by the snail that feeds off the deer poo and then travels across the grass or hay that the alpacas eat. Once the alpaca ingests the MW larva it migrates to the spine of the alpaca and if not caught early can kill the alpaca.
Alpacas make a sweet humming noise. They will do this if they are stressed, or relaxed. And when alarmed will make a loud vocal call that sounds like a squeaky rusty hinge! They can spit but normally will do this at each other. When they feel threatened they can spit at us. Alpacas need to be handled like you would a cat….. do not go to them, let them come to you. Or use a catch pen, this is less stress on the alpaca. They are curious creatures by nature, and if you turn around they might walk up to you to check you out, when you are not looking…lol..and only when you DO NOT have a halter or lead rope in your hands. Food is a great way to get your alpaca to trust you, by hand feeding them.
Alpacas are a Green animal. They do not have upper teeth so when they eat grass they do not pull up the whole plant. They are easy on the Earth too by having padded feet and they do not have hard hoofs that can damage the soil. And speaking of SOIL, alpaca Poo is a great fertilizer. Alpaca poo is considered a rich soil enhancer. It improves the soil quality and its ability to retain water. It provides a fair amount of Nitrogen, Potassium and about average levels of Phosphorus. It is basically odor free, and has been known to repel Deer! It does not need to be aged or composted before it is used. There is also Alpaca Tea , which is in a burlap bag which is filled with dried alpaca beans. You place this in a gallon jug of water for 24 hours and you have Manure Tea. We at Healing Hearts Alpacas have plenty of aged alpaca beans and Tea Bags for sale. Your garden will thank you.
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Here are a few of our Alpacas on our small farm……