About Alpacas


Row of alpacas peaking over fence

Alpacas are South American camelids that are related to llamas, vicunas and guanaco. They are a type of ruminant and have two-toed padded feet. They have very soft luxurious fleece that was prized as the “gold” of the native South Americans and is sometimes called the “new cashmere”. The processing and use of alpaca fibre is a growing industry presenting new textile and knitting opportunities.

Alpacas are hardy, intelligent animals that are easy to look after. They require access to an area for grazing and exercise. This area should be divided into at least two areas for alternate grazing and to allow recovery of the pasture. A constant supply of fresh water is required.

It is necessary to have a penned area under cover so that the animal can be provided with shelter in poor weather. A pen is also necessary for retaining the alpaca in a restricted area for routine animal inspection and husbandry. It is useful to have a means of “funnelling” the alpacas into the pen from the grazing area.

The pasture should be fully hedged or fenced. Alpacas tend not to challenge fencing, though a fence at least 4 feet high is necessary. You will need to be sure that strange dogs are kept out of your alpacas’ field. However, alpacas soon get to know dogs already in the family.
You will need to check your pasture and hedges for poisonous plants. These include black nightshade, box, bracken, cowbane, cuckoo pint, deadly nightshade, foxglove, hemlock, hemlock dropwort, horsetail, iris, laburnum, larkspur, lily of the valley, linseed, privet, ragwort, rhododendron and yew.

Alpacas are herd animals that must live in groups of three or more, preferably of the same sex. Alpacas are best transported with a companion; they sit down in the “cush” position when being transported.

An alpaca peaking under a fence