Physical characteristics of alpacas:
Alpacas weigh between 140 and 200 lbs., and are approximately 3 feet high at the shoulder, and 5 feet at the top of the head. They have a lifespan of approximately 15 to 25 years. Their gestation period is 11 to 11 1/2 months. A single baby, or 'cria', is born during daylight hours, with a birth weight of about 14 - 20 lbs.
Temperament of alpacas:
Alpacas are gentle, intelligent, curious, shy, easy to handle and can be halter-trained. They are herd animals and need at least one other alpaca for company. You never have to worry about the safety of children or even toddlers around them. They are an absolute joy to look after!
Fencing is needed to keep out predators such as dogs and coyotes. One acre can support approximately 5 alpacas, depending on the quality of the pasture. Alpacas also require fresh water, shade in summer and shelter in winter although they are quite hardy.
Alpacas require pasture or hay with a protein level of 9-11% for maintenance; females in late gestation, nursing moms and young growing cria require higher protein levels, up to 15%. Avoid timothy hay as the seed heads get caught in their fleece. Optimum nutrition in regards to vitamins and minerals is essential for good health, reproduction and beautiful fibre. I feed my alpacas a supplement of a custom made pelletized food to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need, and to give the pregnant and nursing moms the extra calories they require. Clean water and free choice mineral should also be available. One square bale of hay will feed one alpaca for approximately 7 - 10 days. Health maintenance consists of annual immunizations, periodic deworming, toenail trimming, and annual shearing.
For more information on caring for alpacas, see www.camelidcare.org
Last updated November 2013.