Updated: Oct 23
Alpacas are an absolute pleasure to keep; they are curious and friendly animals that can be relatively easy to care for, once you understand their needs. However, before you dive straight into alpaca keeping, make sure you have done your research first. Here are some pointers to get you started...
How many alpacas should I have?
As herd animals, alpacas should always be kept in groups of at least 3 as they thrive on social interaction and can become stressed and ill if kept isolated. The amount of land available to you will also determine the prime size of your herd. The suggested stocking density is 4 to 5 alpacas per acre. Splitting the pasture in half will allow rotation between grazing, which gives the grass time to regenerate, as well as reducing the risk of worm burdens.
Can I keep entire male and female alpacas together?
The short answer is no, you should not keep entire male and female alpacas together because entire males will fight to compete for potential mates using their fighting teeth, which are used in attempts to castrate rivals! Even after trimming, they can still inflict serious injury. and at worst lead to partial or total castration. The act of mating is an incredibly invasive process (the penis penetrates through the cervix and into each uterine horn and lasts for an average of 20 minutes), so if allowed to happen regularly by males having full time access to females, it can lead to damage of the vulva and cervix, leading to infection and can cause undue stress and abortion. If you wish to breed alpacas, pen mating is the recommended method - read more about pen mating here.
Can I keep a castrated male with female alpacas?
Young males should be separated from females by 10 months old to avoid accidental pregnancies. After castration (which usually occurs at 18 months of age), it is possible to house males and females together, but care should be taken to monitor the group to avoid harassment and attempted matings of females - this decision is very much down to personal experience and situation.
Should I have male or female alpacas?
Whether you decide to purchase male or female alpacas very much depends on your big picture plan... If you wish to grow a breeding herd, starting with a trio of females in cria (already pregnant) will allow you to get a jump start and negate the need to purchase and housing studs immediately. If you would like a friendly herd to keep as field pets, young or gelded (castrated) males suit this lifestyle well as they tend to be milder in temperament than females. Pet males are significantly cheaper to purchase than females.
What is best practice for grouping alpacas?
Alpacas are not meant to be alone, so they should always be kept in groups of at least 3 and ideally in same sex groupings. If you want to keep a stud, remember that he cannot be housed with females for the reasons explained above, and so he will need at least 2 male companions (either other working studs or fully grown males). This can be tricky logistically, so plan ahead how you will provide ample grazing for both groups away from each other. If you do not have the space to accommodate a group of males away from the females, but you do still require breeding solutions, we recommend you opt for outsourced stud services from another alpaca breeder instead.
How much do male and female alpacas cost?
Alpacas typically cost between £300 - £5,000 to purchase, depending on what you are looking for and the price is determined by a number of factors including age, sex, colour, temperament, halter training, registration and breeding potential all determine the pricing. Weanling male alpacas and retired breeding female alpacas typically cost around £300 - £950 each, whereas breeding females typically cost between £1,500 - £5,000 each.
Learn how to look after alpacas
This 95 page E-Guide is packed full of information for new and prospective alpaca keepers, covering Alpaca 101, Requirements, Diet & Pasture Management, Husbandry Tasks, Disease & Parasites and an Introduction to Breeding & Cria Care. Download upon purchase so you can dive straight in! For the full contents list and to get your copy, click the image below.