About Alpacas

ALPACAS are members of the Camelid family, along with camels, llamas, guanacos and vicunas.  They originated from South America (Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina).

Two different types of Alpaca

How big do they grow?

Feeding requirements

Alpacas are browsers rather than grazers.  They thrive on a high fibre/low protein diet.  They do well on native grasses.  They like hay and silage.  Supplementary feeding of grains, legumes and/or alpaca nuts are enjoyed by feeding mums or any animals needing to increase their body score.

The alpaca is a modified ruminant with a 3 compartment stomach.  It converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.

Fresh drinking water must be available at all times.  In summer an alpaca may drink up to 4 litres per day.

Shelter & fencing

Alpacas are accustomed to cold weather in the Andes Mountains but many breeders have barns or natural shelter as protection from severe winter storms.  Their fibre provides excellent insulation and protection from cold.  The use of cria coats for babies born in the winter months is sensible.  Shade protection is welcome in the heat of the summer.

Most commonly used fencing can be used although barbed wire and electrics are not recommended.  Alpacas are not prone to forcing or jumping fences.

Special features of alpaca

The Alpaca family

Temperament

Alpacas are social, very placid animals although each has his/her own personality. They are herd animals so you need a minimum of 2 as they are unhappy on their own.  They are easily halter trained and are not aggressive so therefore make great pets. Curiosity and intelligence are prominent traits.

Lifespan

Alpacas can live for 20-25 years.

Breeding

Female alpacas breed at around 12-16 months of age.  They are ‘induced ovulators’ which means they do not have a ‘cycle’ like most animals.  The eggs are released in response to a mating.  Gestation is around 340 days.  Twins are extremely rare.  Re-mating is usually performed 14–21 days after birthing.  The cria is weaned at six months old.  Males are sexually mature at around 2 years old.

Stocking rates

5-8 animals per acre, assuming good pasture.

Health care

Shearing

Shearing should be done once a year in spring or early summer before seed heads develop which could contaminate fleece and before hot weather could cause heat stress.

Alpaca fibre

Alpaca fleece is very warm and is an exceptional insulator.  Quality products have a very soft feel and are extremely comfortable to wear.

Book A Tour

QTAZ Alpacas is an 8 hectare property (20 acres) where Alan and Lyn Skilling breed a beautiful herd of alpacas that range in colour from white to black. You will enjoy interacting with our friendly alpacas that will delight and entertain you.