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Friday, September 2, 2022

Don't buy me just because I'm cute - Alpaca basic care & beyond

Do NOT buy just because they are cute ! While the title may seem harsh I am sure many other long time alpaca owners could chime in with story upon story.

Alpaca Ownership Responsibly - try to cover the basic bases

When communicating with potential alpaca owners, starting with simple basics can mean:
explaining there are 2 types of alpacas - huacaya or suri (they are not llamas or even emu's lol)
Correct zoning - are you allowed to have alpacas on your property (not in your house), if so how many?

Explaining why you need to have 2 ideally minimum of 3 alpacas - the herd explanation and truth to lone alpacas being highly susceptible to stress ulcers or complications. Reasons why we won't sell just ONE alpaca which doesn't mean BOGO

Also purchasing at least pairs of the same sex *if getting males, similar age and sized (pecking order establishment should never end in mutilation or worse)

Correct type of feed & set up - Orchard hay with proper nutrients and a feed area allowing enough space so there isn't crowding which likely means not in a corner where it looks neat and tidy but in a middle with access from both sides.
adequate space and shelter in area

potential toxins (access to chicken feed or poisonous plants)

Fencing (safe type to keep alpacas in and predators out)
ideally this discussion leads to livestock guardian dog for protection


Speak about not advisable to share same space with horses, donkeys, goats - only to get the call, they were fine together until - a hard headbutt or kick happened, parasites happened, goat horns impaled...

There are those that we are so grateful respect advise and build a barn to bring them in and/or decide to get a livestock guardian dog and not rely on llamas or other means of notification should a predator come calling. Unfortunately we have seen firsthand or received too many calls in distress of alpaca owners that herds were okay for years - until the mountain lion came, the bear came, most commonly loose dogs came.

We give out a care sheet that talks about trimming toenails, correct halter placement (someone has left an incorrect halter on and the animal starved to death)

A body score sheet that helps assess ideal weight which is a huge contributory factor to overall health

Shearing that comes once a year - EVERY year (not just given a list) informed to book early as good shearers are hard to come by & more than worth their weight in gold!

injections: tetanus - know your specific area work with vet, west nile, M worm, rabies
pest control - don't forget to spray ears for ear ticks.
have their teeth checked (can't assume all shearers do this)

*Veterinarian - with camelid experience - HUGE (not everyone has even one in nearby vicinity)
Mentors - you may find a bargain on craigslist but who do you call in the "off" hours in an emergency

Also, correct handling - not too much coddling when they are little or you may have that cute 200 pound alpaca jump or charge you or others.

I'm sure we missed some things and this draft will be under revision.