Alpacas are the smallest species of camelid mammals native to South America. They’re popular for their fleece and benign conduct, which attract a lot of questions about their domestication.
If you’re interested to know if they can move into your backyard, we’re here to enlighten you on a few must-have essentials before considering their domestication.
So Can You Keep An Alpaca In Your Backyard?
Yes, but you must keep three or more due to their social habit unless it’s a pet-quality type. Also, ensure that you obey your local authority’s legal code.
Space & Security Requirements
You need to carefully ponder over your available space and security measures against the animal’s needs before bringing it in. While space needs rely on the number of alpacas you desire to have, one acre can always host three to ten Alpacas.
However, you also need to have enough varieties of feeds for them. For example, you can add hay and different types of pasture to their diet. Remember to keep their space clean to avoid various diseases.
While they’re not quite evasive, keeping a fence around alpacas is a prudent security measure. The animals usually have a defense mechanism do spitting some form of alimentary canal juice, but this isn’t often strong enough to keep them safe against such intruders like dogs, bears, coyotes, and other animals.
Always avoid the spiky fence for security reasons.
Veterinary Care For Backyard Alpacas
Like other domestic animals, regular veterinary checks on Alpacas are necessary to keep them in good health. However, the camelid mammals are known to process medications differently; thus, their healing isn’t often guaranteed.
Nevertheless, always ensure that your new companion receives some regular de-worming, nail-clipping, annual vaccination, and teeth checks, alongside a few other veterinary-endorsed care checks.
Alpacas do not shed their fleece, so shearing will help keep them healthy and comfortable. Besides, their wool has significant economic value. Experts recommend shearing the animal once a year after winter but before summer (during spring).
At this time, the fleece has just completed protecting your animal from low temperatures in winter, and the hot season (when the fleece becomes more stressful than helpful) is just about to begin.
Alpacas And Llamas
Although most people find it hard to differentiate between Alpacas and Llamas, there’s a ton of differences between the two. To begin with, it’s important to understand that the animals are very closely related. Consequently, they can often cross-breed successfully.
Meanwhile, Alpacas are ostensibly smaller than Llamas, which also appear to be weightier and more energetic. While Alpacas grow up to three feet tall and around 100 pounds heavy, Llamas can grow as high as five feet tall and as heavy as 400 pounds — no wonder they were traditionally used as working animals.
Again, Llamas have longer and pointed faces than Alpacas, whose faces are often smashed.
Can You Eat Alpacas?
The good news is that Alpacas meat is nutritionally superior to a variety of other red meats, making it a healthy source of food for many. It has a relatively low-fat content and only a few calories per unit (around 150 per 100 grams). So yes, you can eat Alpacas, just like it has been eaten for over 6,000 years ago.
However, not all governments legalize the use of this meat for sale or consumption. For example, the USDA doesn’t regard Alpaca as a meat animal.
However, mixing it with about three percent of beef or pork can get you the USDA seal. In New Zealand, the animal’s owners are at liberty to eat but not sell the meat. Therefore, it’s clear that while you may be interested in consuming the animal’s meat, the government may have a different take on your actions.
Please ensure that you check with your local authority just to make sure you don’t fall victim to a felony.
Alpacas As Pets
Other people ask “can I keep an Alpaca as a pet?” Well, the answer is yes. If you want some companion, you’re good with an Alpaca right inside the house. However, not all of them will submit to petting, and those that do won’t stay indoors for such a long time.
That’s funny, huh?
Most Alpacas are often cautious and sensitive, making them enemies of cuddling and scratching. Nevertheless, you can find a few of those that are trained like pets by some breeders.
Such aren’t usually meant for breeding, but you can keep them for their top-quality fleece. Most of them retail at between $250 and $500 but some will sell at as much as $1,500.
If you can’t afford such but still want some quality companion, there’s good news for you; that training Alpaca isn’t much of an uphill battle. The friendly animals will grasp basic concepts fast and quickly make a good companion.
However, you got to be cautious about cuddling them since they’re quite sensitive to touch.
How Much Do Alpacas Sell?
If you’re eager to know about Alpaca farming, you equally need to learn about their prices. And as you’d expect, there isn’t a constant price for all Alpacas since they differ in the breed and other attributes. Nevertheless, most of them range between $2,000 and $10,000.
Down to their qualities, there are pet, hobby farm, and show-quality Alpacas. Pet alpacas sell at the lowest prices because of their little economic value. They aren’t good at breeding, neither do they produce much fleece or retail at profit-sensitive prices.
On the other hand, the most common type of this animal is the hobby Alpaca. Most people rear this type, which has quite some economic value than the pet Alpaca. They can be bred for their offspring, or shorn for fleece. Most hobby Alpacas sell at between $1,500 and $5,000.
Show-quality Alpacas are the most expensive types. They range between $5,000 and $20,000, although there’s a record-setting price of a whopping $675,000! Their possible sources of income include their fleece and sales at the shows, just to mention a few.
Did You Know?
- Alpacas live for between 15 and 20 years, with the oldest ever having lived for 27 years. Females can reproduce throughout their lifetime.
- Alpacas make some humming sounds to communicate with one another. Sometimes, they make loud noises in groups when frightened.
- The animals sometimes spit when distressed. They rarely spit on humans.
- Cria is the name given to a baby Alpaca, while the female and male are dubbed Hembra and Macho, respectively.
- Alpacas are domesticated from their wild counterparts, the Vicuña.
- Alpacas differ from their look-alikes, the Llamas by a lot of physical and behavioral features despite most people often confusing between the two.
- The animals produce thrice as much wool as sheep.
Alpacas make a good home companion besides proving an important source of income through their high-quality fleece. Some also eat their meat, although different governments have different takes on this. Meanwhile, you now have all the essential information for starting an Alpaca farming project. Good luck with your bid!