Paddock Management for Alpacas

Updated: 7 days ago

Check out the information below for advice on how to manage grassland for alpacas here in the UK.

What type of fencing do you need for alpacas?

Alpacas do not normally attempt to jump over or escape from barriers, so standard 4ft sheep fencing, either the wooden railed kind or stock fencing with plain wire varieties, will work well at keeping them enclosed. Barbed wire should be avoided to prevent injury.

If starting from scratch with your fencing, consider stocking densities, rotation of paddocks, ease of handling, positioning of shelters, feed & water, and machinery access (having access that is wide enough for driving trailers into the paddock with new stock, or hedge croppers entering the field, for example). Placing your shelters against fences/hedgerows makes herding alpacas into the shelter much easier!

How much land is needed for alpacas?

As a rough guide, you will need 1 acre of ground for every 5 alpacas you own. This may vary slightly depending upon your grass quality; if it is very high, then you may be able to add another alpaca, but if it is lower quality, you may need to reduce the herd number or increase the available grazing.

I’ve just rented or bought a new paddock for my alpacas - do I need to do anything with it?

The short answer is yes! Check out the tips below to make sure your new paddock is ready for your alpacas:

  • Check that the boundary fences are secure

  • Check that the water supply is in place

  • Check that you have reasonable access to the paddock and can get vehicle access in during an emergency

  • Check which animals have been on the ground previously (there may be a worm burden or disease - in this case, it would be wise to rest the ground for at least 8 weeks)

  • Check the ground for poisonous plants

  • Top the ground if required

Do I need to rest the ground for grazing alpacas?

The paddock should be split into two so that one half can be rested. Rotation should then occur every 6-8 weeks to help reduce parasite burden, particularly worms, and ensure that the grass has time to rest and recuperate so it can provide ample nutrition.

Do I need to cut the grass?

Alpacas can starve in long grass as they find it difficult to eat, so the grass will need to be cut as required (also known as topping). It is also good practice to remove brambles, conkers and thistles to avoid this getting stuck in their fleeces and causing irritation and/or inability to use the fleece after shearing.

Do alpacas need other food besides grass?

Even with adequate grazing, you should supply your alpacas with ad-lib hay to ensure they have the roughage they need. Soils found within the UK are often lacking in certain minerals and elements; pastures and soils can be analysed to assess any areas of deficiency. It is vitally important to check your pasture regularly for poisonous plants.

Can alpacas graze with other animals?

Alpacas can be grazed with other animals and it is common to see them grazing alongside sheep, goats and chickens here in the UK.

Which plants are poisonous to alpacas?

It is vitally important to check your pasture regularly for poisonous plants to avoid illness in your herd. Here are some of the most common poisonous plants…

  • Foxgloves

  • Ragwort

  • Male Fern

  • Rhododendrons

  • Daffodils

  • Rye Grass

  • Laburnums

  • Hemlock

  • Marsh Mallow

  • Rhubarb

  • Black & White Bryony

  • Grass Cuttings

  • Poppy

  • Potato

  • Oak

  • Privet

Disclaimer: We are not a veterinarian body. We always advise that you consult your vet to discuss the best options for your herd.

Click here to discover more about us and our alpaca family. You can also stay with our herd at Hush Hush Glamping – click here to find out more!

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