Are you considering having one of these amazing animals but need more information?
Hopefully this page will answer all, or at least most, of your questions. Please feel free to email or phone us if you have any further questions.
What are your farm bio-security rules?
In order to reach the high standards the animals deserve we follow some very strict rules:
- All alpaca paddocks are fenced 12 foot in from the hedge line and TB fenced to prevent badgers or other species entering and bringing possible disease.
- All new alpacas brought onto the farm are TB tested either prior to arrival or as soon as they arrive as part of the quarantine process.
- All new animals onto the farm are tested, wormed and then quarantined at the front of the farm before they are moved onto the main farm.
- We do not cross graze any species – meaning different species don’t share paddocks.
How many can I have per acre and what is the minimum number I should have?
A: Five to six alpacas per acre and an absolute minimum of two need to be together, but three or more is ideal. They are herd animals and do become quite distressed and lonely when left alone.
G: Seven to eight angora goats per acre. Although they have adapted well to a grazing lifestyle, goats are naturally browser therefore scrubby pasture land that contains a variety of grasses, deep-rooted weeds like dock and shrubby plants is better than just grass. A minimum of two should be kept together, or ideally more, as they are also herd animals.
S: Four to five per acre is fine or maybe a little more because Shetland sheep in particular are a thrifty breed and can survive on poor quality grazing, and a higher stocking density can be used on fertile pasture. Again a minimum of two is best, but ideally more.
Can they graze with other species?
Yes they can as long as it is managed carefully. In fact alpacas are protective of other animals. Goats and alpacas can graze together, as can sheep and alpacas but goats and sheep need to graze separately due to the worm burdens. The sheep can graze after the goats or alpacas.
Do I need to rotate my paddock?
Yes it is always recommended you do this, by either resting the paddock entirely or grazing it with a different species.
Are they easy to look after?
A: They are hardy animals that, as long as they are given routine vaccinations and wormers, will keep good health and live a long life.
G: They are lovely natured animals to work with, but they do require some care and dedication to keep healthy and thriving, so only take these on if you are committed.
S: Yes they are very easy to look after. They always give us the run around catching them, but once penned up they are easy to handle and they keep excellent health.
Do they need shelter? If so what sort?
A: Yes they need a shelter in the winter but they do not like to be locked inside and in fact get quite stressed if they are locked up so they prefer to have the option to come and go as they please. They also need some short of shade sail or shelter during the summer.
G: Yes the need a shelter as they don’t have lanolin in their fleece (also called wool wax or wool grease, lanolin is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals), therefore they have no waterproof elements. They also require some hard standing during winter as they are prone to foot rot, preferably even being housed during the winter. They are not designed for our climate; therefore they do struggle to stay healthy and happy, particularly in winter, without the correct facilities.
S: Sheep don’t specifically need a shelter, but they do appreciate it or at the very least some shade. They are a hardy breed and can live and thrive outside for 12 months of the year in most locations.
What type of fencing do they need?
Stock fencing is all you need as they generally don’t challenge fence lines.
Do they need vaccinating and worming?
Yes regular vaccinating, worming, liver fluke and mite treatments will ensure they stay in good health as well as having their toenails trimmed approximately every six weeks. As with any animal, the more you do it the easier it becomes the for animal and handler.
How often do they need to be shorn?
We teach those who work with us that this is our harvest and treat it with care! This is what we farm for so shearing day is always exciting. It is also a good time to see what is under that fleece – good and bad sometimes!
A: Once a year – usually at the beginning of summer. A good fibre producing alpaca should produce approximately 4 kilos of fleece. The fleece of should be separated into three bags; the blanket (this is the prime first cut), the neck and leg hair (the second cut from the shearer) and the scraps which is good for bird nesting.
G: The angora’s fleece grows at the rate of about 2cm per month. Shearing is carried out twice a year, when the mohair is about 12-15cm long. We separate into two bags; the first and the second cut. It is very important to keep each fleece separate as the younger fleece is worth more money than the older fleece.
S: Once a year in Spring, however if you don’t need or wish to use the fleece for anything they are self-shedders, meaning you won’t need to shear them – they can do it themselves.
What can be done with their fleece?
The fleece can be sold in its raw state either online, through your own shop or there are buyers who collect it and pay you on the day.
Does their fleece pay for their feed and medication costs?
Unfortunately generally not in its raw state (straight off the animal) but every process adds value (e.g. washing, carding, spinning and finishing into a garment).
Where do they originate?
A: Originally from Peru, they do like a rough terrain and are used to running as a large herd, therefore they do feel safer in numbers.
G: The Angora goat is a breed of domestic goat that is named after Ankara, Turkey, historically known as Angora.
S: The Shetland sheep is a small, wool-producing breed of sheep originating in the Shetland Isles, but is now also kept in many other parts of the world.
How long do they live for?
A: Alpacas have a life expectancy of about 20 years.
G: The average lifespan is just over 10 years, assuming the animal is well cared for.
S: The life expectancy of sheep is similar to large breeds of dogs, about 10 to 12 years. Some breeds are known for being longer-lived, e.g. Merino. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest sheep lived to be 23. She was a Merino.
What age do they reach sexual maturity?
A: Females reach breeding capability by 16-24 months. Males usually don’t reach sexual maturity until 24 months or more, with the rare one becoming potent as early as 12 months.
G: They can reach puberty between 4 to 12 months of age, depending on the season of birth, level of feeding/nutrition and overall health status.
S: Most ewe lambs reach puberty between 5 and 12 months of age.
How long are they pregnant for?
A: Approximately 11.5 months, although they can be 4 weeks early or 6 weeks late and we have had both so we generally allow a 10 week birth window on the calendar per cria, however they average about 2 weeks later than their official due date.
G and S: 145 – 155 days.
What is a baby called?
A: An alpaca offspring is called a cria. Normal alpaca crias should weigh at least 6 kg and llama crias 7 kg – though average weights are probably closer to 7.5 and 8.5 kg respectively for alpaca and llama crias. They will normally lose 0.25 kg or so during the first 24 hours but then should gain 0.1-0.45 kg in body weight daily (average 0.25kg).
G: A goat offspring is called a kid. The average birth weight is 3.2 kg and ranges from 2.4 kg to 3.4 kg
S: A sheep offspring is called a lamb. The lambs from medium to small breeds are similar in size to human babies, usually between 2 to 5 kilos, with an average of 3.5 to 4.5 kilos.
Do they birth easily?
A: Reasonably easily but due to the value of the cria, the length of the pregnancy and the fact there will only be one, we do not take our eye off them! If the alpaca does encounter difficulties it can be fatal to the dam and cria so it is always best to be on standby if you can. Problem births are unusual in good quality breeding animals, but when they do occur it is important to intervene as quickly as possible for the health of both.
G: Yes they birth very easily and take care of the young kid or kids instantly. We have very rarely had to assist.
S: Yes they are easy lambers. Intervention is rarely needed lambers. They give birth to lively lambs that have a strong will to live, get up quickly and feed – good outside survival
How many do they have each time?
A: Very rarely has a twin pregnancy survived to full term so almost always it is only one cria, averaging 8kg. Very rarely – 1 in every fifty to sixty thousand.
G and S: They can have a single or twins easily, however occasionally a triplet pregnancy has occurred although they struggle with this only having two teats.
What age are the offspring weaned?
A: Some breeders do this at 5 months however we prefer to wait until they are 8 months, which is when they mums are starting to push them away anyway, especially if they are pregnant again as they need those valuable nutrients for the new developing baby.
G and S: When they are showing signs of becoming sexually mature. We never leave it longer than four months, but this is because we don’t castrate at birth for health reasons and to give any young males a chance to show their quality.