Compared to many farm animals, Alpacas are very easy to care for. Typical day-to-day care depends on the season as well as the facility. Ideally, alpacas would have adequate grazing area so that for six months out of year they would not need hay or grain. As many as six alpaca can be sustained on an acre of good quality pasture. As we are still developing our pasture areas, we have needed to provided hay year round. Alpacas need to eat 1.8% of their body weight in dry matter per day. For the average 150 lb alpaca, that is about 2.7 lbs per day. If the feed is hay, the average alpaca will eat one 70 lb square bale in about a month. For comparison, a horse eats that much in just a couple days. If the feed is grass (assuming 30% dry matter), the average alpaca needs about 9 lbs per day.
Also, we offer 1-2 cups of grain twice per day because our herd consists of pregnant and/or lactating females or growing cria. The grain we use is Buckeye® Alpaca Evans’ Start To Finish. We also supplement with Stillwater Minerals.
Unlike most farm animals, alpacas tend to use a single communal manure pile both inside and outside the barn. The manure pile in our barn is cleaned out on a daily basis. We use pelleted bedding indoors to help contain urine. The piles outside the barn are raked on a daily basis and then removed weekly. Because alpacas have three stomachs, the pure manure can be immediately used on a garden. The manure mixed with bedding is put on our compost pile. The pure manure is either put on our gardens or used to make bagged fertilizer which we offer for sale.
Besides daily chores, alpacas need to have their toenails trimmed regularly – approximately every two months. There are also seasonal and yearly vaccinations necessary.