LAND AND SHELTER
Alpacas are gentle on the land and efficient users of feed. A couple acres of good pasture can support 4 to 8 alpacas. Alpacas are hardy creatures that adapt well to all climates and have minimal requirements in the way of shelter. Access to an open barn, a simple overhang or a 3-sided shed is adequate shelter from the weather during adverse conditions and provides shade during warmer seasons.
Alpacas do well on a combination of pasture and clean, grass-type hay. Overfeeding or dependence on protein-rich hays, such as alfalfa, is unhealthy. Alpacas are sensitive to the deprivation of essential minerals including, but not limited to, selenium and phosphorus. Supplemental pellets can easily make up for mineral deficiencies. Females in their last trimester of pregnancy, nursing mothers and growing youngsters may require increased protein feed. Fresh water should always be available, as should free-choice mineral salt.
Alpacas do not tend to run away, so keeping them fenced in is rarely a problem. However, adequate fencing is critical to their survival. Exterior fencing must be high enough to keep out all potential predators, including neighborhood dogs. Interior fencing is used to separate the herd at various life stages.
Although generally hardy and disease resistant, alpacas benefit from appropriate preventive medicine and ready access to a veterinarian experienced in working with camelids. Health management programs may include regular worming and vaccinations specific to the geographic area. Selenium supplements may be required to prevent white muscle disease. Vitamin D supplements will prevent rickets in winter-born cria. Toenails need to be trimmed regularly and teeth should be inspected and trimmed if they exhibit excessive growth. Alpacas are sheared annually for their comfort and well being.