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!

How To Care For An Alpaca Cria

How To Care For An Alpaca Cria

A Cria is a baby Alpaca or an Alpaca that is less than one year old. If you have ever had an Alpaca Cria on your farm, you will know how much care they need. From wondering away from the pack to getting stuck in places that the large Alpacas wouldn’t even think about going.

Your Cria will typically arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Mothers do not want to welcome their young by dropping them into the hottest part of the day. If your Alpaca Cria arrives outside of that window, it tends to point to a complication. That is not a rule, just an observance we have made in our experience.

The fun is just beginning when they get out into the scary world. You will need to make sure that they are getting plenty of food and developing as they should. It is a good idea to check on them at least twice a day to see how they are doing.

Feeding Your New Cria

so many to chose fromCria’s should feed off of milk from the mother, but some may not know to do that. Your Alpaca Cria should be drinking mother’s milk within 4 hours of birth at the most. If they are not drinking within 5 hours then you should call a doctor immediately.

This can be a sign of a few things that a Cria might run into. Some don’t know how to get the milk from their mother or are scared of their surroundings. Put them in their own pen or enclosure so that the newborn feels more secure.

This can also mean that there is something going on with the mother. Young mothers may not know that they should make the new Cria drink milk right away and may need a quick lesson. They could also be lacking in the ability to produce enough milk to keep up with what the new Cria needs.

Behavior of Your New Alpaca Cria

Your new Cria should be in the kush position and alert within 5 or 10 minutes of entering the world. Within 30 minutes, they should be at least making an attempt to stand up and start exploring. They should be standing safely within about 3 hours of birth.

Keep an eye on the progress and make sure that the mother is helping and encouraging the process. If they are obstructing the process, you may need to step in or even separate them. Some young mothers just don’t want to have anything to do with the new alpaca Cria.

What To Watch Out For

Breeding Alpaca is essentialWhen you get a hold of the new Cria to do a quick checkup, you want to make sure that you see some teeth starting to poke through. It shouldn’t take long for the teeth to start developing. If you don’t see any progress in growing teeth within the first week, contact your vet.

Another sign that something is wrong is if the Alpaca Cria displays an overall lack of energy. They should be a little ball of energy, running in circles around anyone who will watch. If they are laying down in the barn all day then you should notify a vet as soon as possible.

If your Cria is born during a cold part of the year, it is important to make sure that they stay plenty warm. Their internal organs need warmth in order to do what they are meant to do. Cover your Alpaca with a thick blanket and throw some warm water bottles under the blanket as well.

Most people put their Alpaca Cria in a Cria jacket shortly after it is born. This helps them stay warm while also protecting the fleece from all the playing. Keeping a new Cria warm is one of the keys to survival and without this they will not have a great chance of surviving.

When You Can Relax

The first 4 days are the most critical times in the Alpaca Cria’s life. Most Alpaca breeders will check on their newborns hourly during this period. You will need to make sure that they stay warm and that the bond with their mom.

Their mom should keep them warm at night unless they are sick. If the mom senses that the young Cria is a liability when it comes to predators, they will stay away in an attempt to stay alive themselves. If they do not cuddle with the Cria at night, you will need to provide blankets and maybe even cuddle them yourself.

Once the mom takes over and is responsible for the Alpaca Cria, you can spread your checkups out a little more. Still keep a close eye on progress, but you can check a little less often. Once you hit a week, you should be in the clear. Don’t stop checking all together, but you are less likely to run into problems before you have time to react.

 

The Difference Between Proven and Unproven Alpaca

Breeding Alpaca is essentialThe difference between proven and unproven Alpaca is whether they have carried a baby Alpaca, or a Cria, full term. This is a term is typically how sellers will classify a female Alpaca they are selling. If they can say that she has successfully birthed a young Cria, it will allow the seller to be comfortable that they can breed her.

This is important because some Alpaca have trouble with birthing. Classifying a female as proven or unproven stops breeders from selling a female Alpaca that failed to reproduce and say “you never asked”. Most reliable breeders will give you a guarantee of live birth to ensure you that they are confident in the animal you are buying.

It is important to remember that an unproven Alpaca does not mean that they cannot reproduce, it means they have never been bred. If a female Alpaca has failed to reproduce then they will be considered a “pet” or “fiber” Alpaca. Successfully carrying a Cria full term means that they are consider a “proven Alpaca”.

If you are looking to be a proven Alpaca then you should always ask more questions on the topic. They are considered proven as long as they have a single live birth. That does not mean that they didn’t leave the new Cria in the barn and hoped never to see it again.

Remember that an Alpaca is not considered unproven if the Cria passes away the next day because the mother did not produce any milk. Make sure that you ask about how she did with milk and how were her mothering skills. It doesn’t help to have a proven Alpaca if they do not survive!

How It Affects The Price Of An Alpaca

The Difference Between Proven and Unproven AlpacaPeople that are looking to begin their own Alpaca farm will want to purchase females that they can breed to expand their herd. They are looking for the best female proven Alpaca that they can find so that they produce the best offspring. If the females they purchase cannot reproduce, that is a huge blow to how many Alpaca they will be able to reproduce.

As we mentioned before, most new breeders look for “live birth” clauses in writing when purchasing a proven Alpaca. This is essentially a warrantee saying that the new female will have a live birth and produce a live Cria. If they do not, the selling will buy back the Alpaca or allow for another stud from any male Alpaca free of charge.

If an Alpaca is proven, then it is worth more money because you can say they it will produce more Alpaca. This allows you to charge a higher price for the Alpaca than you could on an unproven Alpaca.

An Unproven Alpaca has not produced a Cria yet, but they have also not tried. This does not mean that the breeder doesn’t believe that they can. Typically it means that the farm they live in is short on space and they are not actively breeding every animal possible.

They are worth less because they cannot be sold with the guarantee that they will reproduce successfully. That makes them less desirable to someone who is looking to start their own breeding program.

Conclusion

If you are looking to start your own Alpaca farm that includes breeding then you will want to pay the extra for a proven Alpaca. There is no promise that an unproven Alpaca is going be able to help you expand like you plan. You will be rolling the dice on them and chancing that they cannot reproduce. The extra cost is almost always better than taking the risk.