How to keep happy Alpacas

Alpacas are found all over South Africa, there are about 50 registered breeders in different provinces. There are many different philosophies about keeping alpacas. Alpacas can be kept on small holdings or on large farms. They can survive on grazing if there is enough available. Alpacas are quite hardy and can survive periods of drought and little food. But one must always keep in mind, a life on the edge will not give you best breeding results nor best fibre growth. If you let them roam freely, your natural loss might be high. On the other side high density stock on limited space can also cause alpacas to stress and other problems may occur like ulcers. Generally speaking a high protein diet will lead to higher microns in the fibre. If their intake of minerals and trace elements is too low, they might suffer of low fertility or develop bad bone structure and conformation. Best is always to know what your grounds and natural feeds and water have available, then you can provide them with a balanced diet and mineral supply. If you prefer free roaming or high maintenance, that is up to any breeder to decide. With the following list, we would like to give some standard points of advice:

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Access to fresh, clean water, daily protect them from South African poisonous plants – these have caused most casualties and deaths in the alpaca national herd grass or hay at lip supplementation of minerals and trace elements – alpacas have higher needs for example for Selenium and Zinc than sheep shearing once a year
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Toe-nail trimming if necessary
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Teeth correction if necessary
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Have shade available
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Do not keep them singly, as they are herd animals and gregarious to make sure successful offspring, keep your highly pregnant females on close watch.
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Vaccination against Clostridia, for example with Covexin 10. Blue Tongue, Rift Valley Fever, Botulism and Anthrax. Other vaccinations might be necessary depending on the area you keep them.
Insect control is recommended, for example with Wipe-out.
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De-worming if necessary, for example with Ivomec.
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Fencing: Closely stranded plain wire at least 1.2m high / existing barbed wire at least 1.2m high. Electric fencing works well.
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Field shelters – various designs depending on local climate - 4 poles supporting shade material; 3 sides & roof; barns or stables for shade & shelter from inclement weather.
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Stables should have 2 m height, and about 2 m² space per animal.
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Recommendation depending on grazing available, about 8 alpacas per hectare.
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It is easier to work alpacas in a chute, for instance to weigh them or to give injections – specially if you have a bigger herd a scale is an easy measure to see that your animals are healthy and in good condition.