Alpacas are most famously known for their beautiful fibre which was called "fibre of the Gods" by the ancient Inca's. Pet lovers often ask if alpacas can make friendly pets. The truth is, these llama cousins are friendly and easy to handle. Besides being inquiring, they are also intelligent and sensitive. Additionally, they are calming to be around and show a quick response to gentle handling. They have a natural instinct to guard other animals and are used by farmers to protect lambs and chickens

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Alpacas Have Super-Soft Hypoallergenic Fleece

If you have never touched alpaca fleece, you will be delighted at how soft it feels. Besides being fluffy and soft, alpaca fiber is naturally free from lanolin and other allergy-causing agents. Whether you want to hug an alpaca or make a blanket from its fleece, you are not likely to suffer the same redness and itchiness caused by other types of fiber. Additionally, alpaca fiber has been granted a class 1 rating by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission because of its flame resistant nature. This fleece is also water resistant, making it a warmer alternative to cotton, and a lightweight option to sheep’s wool.

Given Time, Alpacas Are Typically Receptive to Human Touch

Every relationship is founded on trust. Once this amazing animal becomes acquainted with you, it will be much more receptive to your contact and touch. In fact, alpacas tend to be more similar to cats in behavior than to dogs. After establishing trust from familiarity, most alpacas will allow you to stroke their backs and necks, and even hug them! What’s more, alpacas are very friendly and even more receptive to children than adults, perhaps because children are small, and therefore less intimidating to be around with than adults.

Alpacas Have Different Personalities and Come in Many Shades

Like people, alpacas are individuals, each one with a different personality. Some are shy and passive, some playful and boisterous, while others are proud and determined. They are not only fun to be around, but also curious about everything happening in their surroundings. Furthermore, alpacas are colorful creatures; their fur has been classified in 16 different shades. This attractive range of colors eliminates the need for artificial dying when their fleece is used in interior design or fashion. Alpacas’ special blend of characters and colors will make you spend most of your time strolling among them, watching, and being entertained by their antics.

Alpacas Are Easy to Train Compared to Other Pets

Alpacas are perfect animals for training and can even be trained by kids using a leash and a halter. It is wonderful to watch children put alpacas through their paces — walking over crinkly obstacles, navigating between hay bales, walking across bridges, and even jumping small fences!

Alpacas Are Tidy

As stated earlier, alpacas are more similar to cats in behavior than to dogs. An example of this is that they tend to love a communal dung heap. This quality is beneficial to you because it relieves you from the stress of collecting randomly scattered droppings. Thus, you can select an ideal spot for your alpacas to deposit their beans. Not only does this make clean-up easier, it provides you with a great source of perfect garden fertilizer. Alpaca dung is not “hot”, so you can take it directly to the garden without the risk of scorching your plants.

Alpacas Are Helpful

Alpacas make great guardians of other herd animals like cows, goats, and sheep. They can co-habitate peacefully with most domestic herd animals, as they are not very intimidating to them. However, even though they are smaller than llamas, they do an excellent job keeping away small predators like possums, coyotes, weasels, and skunks. As a bonus, alpacas can help with your lawn mowing, because they bite off the tops of grass while grazing, rather than pulling it up by the roots like sheep.
And always remember, if the need arises, you can use them to transport your luggage from one place to another!

Alpacas Are Easy to Care For

If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep up to ten alpacas. Their day-to-day upkeep and training is easy, but like any animal, alpacas need care and attention. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, of course, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, regularly scheduled vaccinations and de-worming, and routine toenail trimming. The cost of keeping alpacas varies depending on your plans and herd size. Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to keep them as pets because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

Fun facts about Alpacas

Get to know more about these lovable animals

Alpacas won’t answer a call of nature just anywhere. Instead, they pick a spot to poo and then return to it

A baby Alpaca is called a Cria

They come in 21 different colours

Alpacas have two stomachs

Alpacas have pads on their feet instead of hooves

Alpacas make great ‘guard dogs’

Fun facts about Alpacas

Get to know more about these lovable animals

Alpacas won’t answer a call of nature just anywhere. Instead, they pick a spot to poo and then return to it

A baby Alpaca is called a Cria

They come in 21 different colours

Alpacas have two stomachs

Alpacas have pads on their feet instead of hooves

Alpacas make great ‘guard dogs’

Caring for your alpaca

Some expert hints and tips about caring for your new alpaca

Alpacas require similar fencing to sheep, preferably without barbed wire and shade in each paddock. It is important to have a suitable yard or catch pen for welfare checks, to administer injections or to catch animals for shearing. Fenced laneways between paddocks will help facilitate the movement of animals with minimum stress for animal and owner.

When breeding alpacas landholders need to have quarantine and nursery paddocks. Nursery paddocks should be situated in a sheltered location, preferably near the house. This will facilitate the monitoring of females as they go into labour.

The quarantine paddock should be either on the boundary of the property or near key animal handling facilities. It should also have wash down facilities. New or sick animals should be held in the quarantine paddock until they improve or have been vet checked and have excreted any weed seeds they may have brought from their place of origin.

Alpacas are pseudo-ruminants, meaning they have one stomach with three compartments. They should be pasture fed at all times and do well on native pastures. However, alpacas can be supplemented with good quality hay and/or various grains.

How many alpacas a property can support will depend on what sort of pasture and how much pasture your land is capable of producing. Alpacas will eat about 2% of their body weight in feed per day.

Like other livestock, alpacas can also be affected by perennial ryegrass toxicity, annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT) or phalaris toxicity.

Check with your vet for information on all diseases, the likelihood of occurrence and testing opportunities.

Alpacas need to have access to fresh water at all times. Each animal may drink as much as 4L/day.

Alpacas are shorn once a year usually during spring. Shearing is the biggest maintenance task required and usually takes about seven minutes per animal for an experienced alpaca shearer.

Alpacas are relatively disease free, but like all animals they need to be monitored to ensure they stay in optimum health. They are vaccinated twice a year with the same vaccines as used for sheep in the local area. Alpacas are essentially free from fly strike, foot rot and generally defecate in one spot so have a relatively low worm burden.

When buying alpacas especially for breeding purposes, it is advisable to arrange for a vet check to ensure the animals purchased are healthy. The alpaca industry employs body condition scoring systems that are similar to those used for other livestock. Regular monitoring of the flock’s average body condition is one way to determine the health of animals regardless of how much fleece they are carrying.

Just like the nails on our hands and feet, alpacas have nails made out of the durable protein keratin. And just like us this consistently growing material needs to be maintained for their health and comfort. On stony ground their toenails are naturally ground down but if they spend most of their time on soft pastures, like our boys and girls, we trim their toenails from time to time. Usually this is done once at shearing time and then just keep a check on them throughout the year.

The primary two purposes of trimming an alpaca’s nails are to give them an even, comfortable walking surface to step on, and to clean out accumulated dirt and debris that might have gotten caught on their footpads and under their nails in order to prevent infections. The length of their nails is the primary point of concern in an alpaca’s foot maintenance. Unchecked, they will grow far past the alpaca’s soft footpad and begin to curl over on themselves, grow over their toe or spread out to the side of their feet, which can create painful walking conditions. If an alpaca seems to have difficulty or reluctance walking, check their feet. You might be far past due for a trimming by that point!

Trimming an alpaca’s nails is not too dissimilar in concept to trimming a cat’s or dog’s nails. Like cats and dogs, alpacas have a sensitive area made of soft tissue in the center of their nails known as the quick. Cutting the quick by accident can be painful and bloody, so it’s important to be very mindful about how much you trim. Trimming is usually a two-person job. One of us holds and reassures them while the other gentle lifts one foot at a time, does a full inspection of the pad and nails and then trims if necessary. The more we handle their legs and feet the more they tolerate it, most of them are very good and trust us.

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