MORE ABOUT ALPACAS
months. Toe nail and teeth trimming
is normally done every 3-4 months. TB testing is voluntary – however in the
interest of good animal health practice it is recommended.
Rye-grass Staggers: First signs are a perceptible tremor of the head and neck followed by unstable gait. Remove the animal from the infected pasture immediately. Feed Lucerne of good quality. Mycosorb can help to absorb the toxins in the digestive system.
Males not required for stud can be castrated around 1 year of age – these animals make wonderful pets and fibre producers.
Shearing should be done once a year in the spring or early summer .This also allows them to remain cool during the hot summer months and grow sufficient fleece for protection against the winter cold. The fleece from shearing one year's growth will normally weigh about 3kg to 5kg per alpaca.
Alpaca fibre characteristics.
Alpaca fibre is an incredible fibre. It is soft like cashmere and strong like mohair. Alpaca fleece is very warm and is an exceptional insulator, because the fiber is hollow, products have a very soft feel and are comfortable to wear. Imagine a fiber that is incredibly soft on the skin and luscious to touch. The fibre is extremely strong, yet lightweight. It contains no lanolin and is hypoallergenic. This miracle fibre would come in a wide range of natural colours but also accept dyes to provide the option of natural or dyed garments. (More info www.alpacadirect.com)
Weavers and hand spinners love to work with alpaca fibre. The price and product is influenced by the colour and the quality of the fleece.
The alpaca is a ruminant with three stomachs; it converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating far less (as a percentage of its body weight) than other farm animals.
Alpaca manure is lower in organic
matter content than the manure from most other barnyard livestock (cows,
horses, goats and sheep) but still has enough to improve soil texture and
water-holding capacity. This lower organic content allows alpaca manure to
be spread directly onto plants without burning them. It is the decomposition
of organic matter content of the manure that indicates their efficient
The nitrogen and potassium content
of alpaca dung is comparatively high, an indication of good fertilizer
value. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the major plant nutrients.
(They are the familiar N-P-K on fertilizer bags, N-P-K= 1.5-0.2-1.1)
Phosphorus is relatively low as in most livestock manure. The Calcium and
Magnesium content is about average.
Gardeners find the alpaca's rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits and vegetables.
A herd of alpacas consolidates its waste in one or two spots in the pasture, thereby controlling the spread of parasites and making it easier to collect and compost their fertilizer. (More info www.o2compost.com/content
Know more about Alpacas
When you first see alpacas, you are intrigued. These animals come from high up in the Andes Mountains of South America. While they are beautiful to look at and come in 22 different natural colours, you would expect the harsh conditions to make them coarse and brittle. Quite to the contrary! When you first touch alpaca fleece you are amazed at how soft and lustrous it is. You want to run your hands through it to get the full experience.
Soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, alpaca fleece is enjoyed by spinners and weavers for garments which can be worn next-to-the-skin. Despite the many advantages of the fibre, alpaca farming is still in its infancy and on the world market only represents about 0.1% of wool sales, lending it an exotic image.
While that harsh environment of the Andes is their natural environment, alpacas have proven to be a great livestock for farms in New Zealand. Today there are approximately 15,000 alpacas in NZ. An alpaca herd may be relatively small, often with fewer than ten animals. The animals graze easily and, with their padded feet, do much less damage than hoofed farm animals. They are easily managed and dogs are not needed to move them around pastures.
Alpacas are members of the Camelid family, along with camels, llamas, guanacos, and vicuñas. There are two types. The Suri has long fibres that form long strands – very similar to dread locks. The Huacaya has a more fluffy fibre with a lot of fine crimp.
The dam is a Hembra. The sire is a Hombra/Macho. The young are Cria.
How big are Alpacas?
Baby alpacas weigh 5-9kgs at birth. Huacaya breed are very compact in size, about 1 metre at the shoulder and adults weigh around 50-80kgs.
As a general rule alpacas are very placid and social animals. Each has a distinct personality. They are gentle and non-aggressive and will halter train quite easily and can make wonderful pets. They do spit occasionally, usually when their food or young are threatened. They are highly social animals and need the company of their own species. They respond well to attention. They communicate through tail, body and ear postures, as well as sounds (usually hums, but also shrill cries).
The alpaca’s lifespan.
Alpacas live for around 20-25 years. During its life time a female alpaca can produce 15 or more offspring.
Grazing requirements for alpacas.
Alpacas are browsers rather than grazers. They thrive on a low protein high fibre diet. A maximum of 14% protein in the diet is recommended. They also like meadow hay and silage. Stocking rates 5-8 to the acre, depending on the quality of pasture. Their feed requirements are rated at 1 alpaca per 1.2 sheep (N.Z. Ministry of Agriculture figures.)
Alpacas are very tidy animals. They normally defecate in one place, sometimes walking a distance to do this. The waste can be collected and placed in a compost pile where it makes excellent garden fertilizer or alternatively spread onto the pastures as a natural fertilizer.
Alpaca do not normally seek shelter, if you have trees as wind breaks; this is mostly all they need. Their fibre provides excellent insulation and protection from the cold.
Fences are erected not as much to keep alpacas in (they will rarely challenge a fence), but more to keep predators out. Straying dogs are the main concern. A 5 or 6 foot boundary fence or deer fence is most suitable. Normal sheep type fences are suitable for internal fencing. Alpaca fences are now available.
Female alpacas are mature enough to breed around 12 to 16 months old, but in many countries they are not mated until approaching 2 years of age. They have no season, or menstrual cycle, as many other animals do. Rather, they are induced ovulators, meaning the eggs of the female are released in response to mating. Gestation is around 340 days. Remating is best 14 to 18 days after giving birth. Because they are from cold climates, most alpaca births occur during the day and are uncomplicated. Cria are normally weaned at 6 to 7 months of age. During their life time females can produce 15 or more Cria. The males are usually sexually mature at 2 to 2½ years of age sometimes as young as 1½ years.
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Most of the health care that alpacas require can be done by the owners if they have had previous livestock experience. They need an immunization injection (vaccination) twice a year, a normal sheep vaccine of the 5 in one type provides sufficient immunity from clostridial diseases(Pulpy kidney, Tetanus, Black Disease, Malignant Oedema, and Blackleg.) The cria's should be vaccinated at 4- 6 weeks of age when the immunity given from the mother is no longer effective.
Deworming normally twice a year maybe more depending on the environment they are running under. The familiar Ivermectin based injectable is usually used every 6