Alpaca Facts and FAQ

Is An Alpaca A Good Pet?
What do Alpacas Eat?
Do Alpacas Need to Be Fenced In??
Do Alpacas Need Shelter?
How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?
How Much Do Alpacas Weigh?
How Much Does An Alpaca Cost?
Do Alpacas Spit?

Is An Alpaca A Good Pet?

It depends on your definition of a pet. If you are looking for an animal that hangs out in the backyard without needing much care other than a feeding twice a day, than yes. They will be perfectly happy with you feeding them, going to work, and then feeding them again when you get home.

If you are looking for a pet that is going to come running to be pet when you pull in the driveway, then you don’t want an Alpaca. Alpacas are prey animals and are used to running away from anything that is not an Alpaca. They may get used to you enough that you can get a quick stroke in, but they will not come up and brush against you seeking attention. Read over our Alpaca Facts and then you can decide that answer for yourself.

What do Alpacas Eat?

What do Alpacas Eat?Alpacas are ruminants, or mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food. They eat vegetation all day and then regurgitate it so that it can be chewed again. This allows them to be very efficient digesters since they eat vegetation with very low protein and mineral count.

They are best fed with pasture grown grasses and whatever else they find. They will mow the grass for you without ripping up the roots, allowing the grass to grow back if you rotate pastures. They are best suited for low protein grasses and high protein foods will disrupt fiber production.

During winter months, and in areas without pastures, the answer to “what do Alpaca’s eat” is a little different. They will need to be fed with hay purchased from your local farming store. Second cut hay is almost always best for an Alpaca and supplemental grain may need to be added to balance the diet.

Do Alpacas Need Shelter?

Yes, Alpacas need shelter to shed them from natural elements and protect them from overheating. It is also a good idea to shelter them so that they can stay out of the rain and keep their fleece protected.

Depending on where you live, you might just need a run in shelter, or maybe a full blown barn. A run in shelter is perfect for areas that do not get too cold in the winter. Keep in mind that Alpaca are native to cold environments, but Antarctica might be a little much for them!

Do Alpacas Need to Be Fenced In?

If you have a large enough pasture area, a fence may not be absolutely necessary but it is always a good idea. Half of the reason for a fence is to keep your animals in but the other half is keep predators out. A good fence will keep the Coyotes, or whatever local predators you encounter, out of your farm.

Check with local farms to see what size fence is common in your area. They will be able to give you some good insight on what you need to be able to protect yourself so that you know what kind of fencing to purchase. We also have other great Alpaca facts on this page for your to check out.

How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?

How Much Room Does An Alpaca Need?This depends largely on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to keep your costs low and feed strictly on pasture foods, then you will need to stay below 5-6 Alpacas per acre of land. If you are ok with purchasing hay and feeding them that way, then you can safely fit 15-20 Alpaca on a single acre of land.

Alpaca do not need much room and will mostly stick in a group with the rest of the heard. They need enough room to walk around and that’s just about it. As long as they can get away from each other if a fight erupts, then you should be all set.

How Much Do Alpacas Weigh?

A full grown Alpaca can range between 130 and 170 pounds. Full grown males will be on the high end of that range, while females are on the low end. They are large animals, but about half the size of a llama.

How Much Does An Alpaca Cost?

Alpaca prices vary greatly in price. If you are just looking for a pet or fiber producing Alpaca that is not going to breed or expand your farm, then you are looking to spend about $400 an animal. If you are looking to purchase animals that will breed and grow your farm, then you are going to spend a whole lot more.

Alpaca that are Proven (have breed successfully) are worth more money because they are known to have had a live birth and provide properly for their young. If they are unproven, they are still going to be higher in price than a pet, but you are taking a chance on whether or not they will breed.

Most people looking to start their own heard will purchase the best quality females that they can afford. The farm that sells them to you will typically get them pregnant for you as well. This way you are really purchasing 6 Alpaca instead of the 3 that you are bringing home. That farm will also help you get on your feet by providing answers to simple questions like “what to Alpacas eat” and “do Alpacas spit”.

Once you have read all of our Alpaca facts, head over to how much does an Alpaca costs for more great information on this topic.

Do Alpacas Spit?

Yes, Alpacas do spit when they feel threatened. Unlike Llamas though, Alpacas are not like to spit on humans unless you really make them mad. If you get spit on, you most likely got caught in the crossfire between two Alpacas that are arguing.

Thanks for Reading our list of Alpaca Facts, we hope to see you again sometime soon!

Picking The Right Alpaca Herdsire

Picking the right Alpaca herdsire for this generation of your herd can make or break the entire generation at your farm. Choosing a champion Alpaca as your main herdsire can take your herd to the next level instantly. On the opposite spectrum, choosing the wrong one can send you in a downward spiral FAST.

What is a Herdsire?

Picking The Right Alpaca HerdsireA Herdsire is a male Alpaca that you keep primarily for Sir’ing your farm. He is meant to be the daddy to as many females as possible to produce high quality Cria’s and expand the herd. Most large farms have a handful of herdsire’s so that they can continually expand without crossing bloodlines. If your herdsire produces quality offspring that other breeders will even pay a stud fee to have your herdsire breed with their females.

A herdsire should be one of, if not the, best quality male you have on your farm. In order to continually improve the quality of your herd, you need two parents with the best genetic qualities possible. If your herdsire has produces top quality fiber, then most of his offspring will produce the same.

Spare no expense when acquiring your herdsire. If you start with a low quality herdsire, you will need to continually find better quality to improve the quality of your herd. Starting with a top of the line herdsire will allow you to skip a lot of that process and start you at the top.

What to look for

so many to chose fromThe most important thing to look for when selecting a herdsire is to be sure that he does not have any conformation faults. Make sure that the legs are as straight as can be and the bones are thick. If you have a crooked legged herdsire, then you are going to end up with a herd of crooked legged Alpaca.

The second most important thing to look for is the quality and quantity of the fiber. Which herdsire you select will vary greatly depending on your preference here. Most high quality Alpaca will either be producers of a large amount of fiber or producers of the highest quality fiber, but rarely both.

If your entire business is centered on your farm producing as much fiber as possible, then you want to start with a herdsire that produces as much fiber as possible. It’s important to look at more than just how much fiber he produced, but how much was produced in his bloodline.

You should also pay attention to how long they produce this amount of fiber as they age. If they produce 10 lbs. of fiber a year for the first 5 years and then drop to 3 lbs. a year, you should probably look for a different herdsire. You don’t want to bet the farm on something that could turn out like that.

Some farms would rather focus their energy on the quality of the fiber produced. Some farms have been known to have adult Alpaca fiber classified as baby Alpaca grade, which fetches a high premium. If you can get your herd to produce fiber of this quality, you will produce more income.

The last thing to look for in a herdsire is overall “proudness”. You want him to walk up on a hill with his head held high looking like he owns that hill. Good posture and overall proudness will help keep the quality of your Alpaca heard strong.

How to Pick The Right One

Good posture and overall proudness are keyDon’t bet your farm on a young boy that may or may not grow up to be a champion. While he may look like he is going to grow up and be one of the best herdsires of the land, he may not even be able to reproduce when it comes time. You want to have as many potential suitors as you can to begin selecting from.

Many breeders use a process of elimination in order to select the perfect herdsire for their Alpaca herd. They will start with a group of Alpaca and eliminate them from the running as they do not make the standards. When they are “eliminated” from the running, they will be castrated so that they can be kept in the large pack with the females.

The first test for most breeders is how much fiber they produce in their first year. The first year fiber is the softest and worth the most money, but it is the hardest to get as well. Most will suggest that an Alpaca herdsire should produce at least 6 lbs. of fiber with its first cut.

The next test for your young potential herdsire is the results of the second year cut. This is where you will start to see how much fiber they are going to produce over the long haul. You are looking to see over 10 lbs. of fiber here if you want to get your herd producing like the best of them.

As the years go by, you want to make sure that they keep producing a large amount of fiber. As we mentioned earlier, they aren’t a good Alpaca herdsire if they produce a quarter of what they are producing now in a Few years. Keep track of this information so that you can showcase the herdsire as a stud to other Alpaca farms that are looking to create their own head Alpacas.