With Alpacas becoming increasingly popular in the UK we often get asked do you do Alpaca field shelters ?
What are Alpacas?
Alpacas originate from the Altiplano (Spanish for high plain) in west-central South America. Spanning the borders of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, this area of the Andes averages nearly 4000 metres.
How to prepare your fields for Alpacas
- Adequate grazing should be provided for the number of animals kept.
- The stocking rate for alpacas varies depending upon whether the grass being grazed by the alpacas is of a native low density variety, also referred to as rough grazing, grassland under five years of age and grassland over five years of age. The stocking rate of alpacas not only depends upon the amount of grass and ultimate protein available but also on the rotational schedule the herd is subject to and the mixture of species found in the lay.
In general the stocking rates for alpacas are as follow
– Rough grazing land: 4 to 5 alpacas per acre
– Permanent pasture which is over five years old: 5 to 6 per acre.
– Temporary pasture which is less than five years old: 6 to 8 per acre.
– 2 alpacas can be kept on 1/2 an acre of pasture if well maintained.
In the winter months alpacas in high nutritional demand such as lactating females and weanlings may need to supplementary feeding. Hay or haylage should also be offered all year round to provide fibre for the digestive system.
- Four-foot sheep fencing using stock netting is suitable for alpacas because they rarely jump and barbed wire should be removed. Post and rail and electric tape fencing can also be used, but avoid electric netting because animals can become entangled.
- It is advisable, if possible, to rotate grazing, allowing land to recover. Foot rot is not common in alpacas, but if conditions are extremely wet for prolonged periods, there should be an area of drier ground provided.
- Alpacas are hardy animals and may be able to live outside all year round, providing they have some form of field shelter which they utilise. An effective alpaca field shelter, large enough for all the alpacas in the field, is especially important in areas of the country that have more extreme (especially wet) weather.
- In larger fields, it is advisable to have a small enclosure or catch pen. By feeding animals here they will become accustomed to the area and it will make catching them easier for routine husbandry, training or veterinary care.
- Paddocks must be checked for toxic plants and flowers. Remember that the animals’ long neck allows them to reach further than others.
For more information and comprehensive guides how to care for Alpacas visit http://www.bas-uk.com/
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