One of the most important aspects of keeping any kind of livestock is having enough of the right kind of property. Animals such as horses and cattle need quite a bit of acreage, but how much space does an alpaca need? In this article, we discuss the type and amount of land you will need to successfully keep alpacas. Read on to learn more on how much space does an alpaca need & more.
What You'll Learn Today
Alpacas Are Easy-Going
Alpacas are actually light eaters and can do very well on all sorts of land. They convert food into energy easily and efficiently and don’t need a lot of lush pasture.
They like to have hilly, interesting, wooded territory; however, they can do well on flat pasture or even raised in a fairly small paddock.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing land for alpacas is safety. You need to be certain that you can very securely fence your pasture area to keep predators out.
Additionally, it’s best if you can keep alpacas separate from other livestock. They are easily bullied by most other creatures. Sheep seem to be docile enough to run with alpacas, but they tend to graze pasture down to the ground, which doesn’t leave anything for alpacas to nibble.
If you keep a defense animal with your alpacas, you can run an Alsatian dog with them. A donkey jenny will defend them well, but should be kept in perimeter fencing that surrounds the alpaca pen rather than actually running with the alpacas.
Alpacas Do Well In Fairly Small Spaces
When determining how much land an alpaca needs, keep in mind that you must have more than one alpaca for the animal to be happy and healthy. These herd animals need to have at least one other alpaca as a companion.
A minimum of three animals is preferable.
With that said, you’ll be happy to know that you can keep as many as 5 to 8 alpacas on a single acre of land. This will vary from location-to-location and depends quite a bit on the quality of the pasture and the amount of hay you feed.
I’ve received an email with someone asking: “Can I keep alpacas in my garden?” Well, if you have a very large garden, it may be possible. For example, half an acre for 3 alpacas would be fine, as long as they have good shelter and 24/7 access to fresh hay and water.
With fewer animals and better pasture, you may be able to simply allow your animals to live on pasture. Otherwise, you’ll need to feed at least once a day.
You may feed only hay, or you may need to add some grain. Again this depends upon the number of animals you have and the quality of your pasture.
You must also provide plenty of fresh, clean water at all times, so any property you use will have to have a natural water source or be within easy access of a spigot.
Accessibility Is Important
Your alpaca property should be close at hand and easy to access.
In addition to feeding and watering, you should be aware that you’ll need to provide a certain amount of grooming, nail clipping, deworming treatment and the like on a regular, ongoing basis. Alpacas also need to be sheared annually and typically need some dental attention after the age of 1 or 2 years.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to establish a daily routine of feeding and handling so that you see and handle your animals every day. Halter train your alpacas, and catch them and handle them on a regular basis. This interaction will make it easier for you to take care of grooming, maintenance and veterinary needs.
Feeding under shelter daily will get your animals in the habit of coming to shelter. This familiarity can help keep them safe in case of very inclement weather.
Alpaca Property Should Be Safely Fenced
Although alpacas are very easy on fencing and quite respectful of it, you’ll want to have a good strong fence to keep predators at bay. Chain-link or mesh fencing is preferred. Strung wire, such as barbed wire and/or electric fencing do not work with alpacas.
5 Things To Know Before You Buy Alpacas
Although it is possible to just let alpacas run loose on a large acreage, this is not the best or easiest way to keep them.
In order to give them proper care and attention and keep them safe, you are really better off keeping them in a smaller, more secure, close-to-home enclosure that allows for daily care and interaction.
When you do this, you are far less likely to encounter unpleasant surprises such as sick, injured or dead alpacas.
Furthermore, when your animals do need routine or emergency care, they will be calmer and far easier to handle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alpacas do not live in the wild. They are an entirely domesticated animal derived from the vicuña. This is a South American camelid which lives wild in the Andes.
Alpacas are smarter than sheep, so they tend to need more enrichment than sheep. If you have open pasture and woodland that provides plenty of interest and diversion (and that’s how you would keep sheep) then alpacas would be fine allowed to roam freely and live their own carefree lives. If you have a small, plain pasture or large paddock, your alpacas will need some enrichment to prevent them from going stir-crazy.
Remember that alpacas are social animals, so you should have at least three of them to keep each other company. You can enhance this sense of company by setting up a large acrylic mirror where they can see their own reflections. Remove any visual barriers and set up their area so they can see what’s going on around them. Provide a little hill or platform so they can stand a little higher and get a different view. Give them their hay in hanging net bags that provide a little challenge rather than simply tossing the hay out on the ground. Provide daily handling and grooming, and take your alpacas for walks. Provide a wading pool for cooling off in the summer. Provide a sand pit for rolling. Be sure it’s far away from their feeding area as they should not pick food out of the sand. Ingesting sand can compact their intestines.
It can be fun to think of things that may inspire your alpacas to play. Some objects that alpacas may enjoy exploring and playing with include: Feeding balls; Cardboard boxes; Non-toxic leaf piles; Partially inflated play balls; Veggies floating in the water trough.
Set the youngster up in its own stall with a thick, soft bed of straw and free access to fresh water and good hay. If you can provide a large stuffed toy and/or soft blankets for snuggling, the weanling may feel reassured. Leave a radio playing soft music for company.