General questions

Alpaca Magic is one of the oldest leading breeders of Alpacas and Llama, read about us here.

General business hours, but by appointment only. Directions and contact details can be found on our contact page.

They are native to the Andean Mountains of Peru, Chille, Bolivia.

I have heard of llamas aged around 30 years – that would be a very old llama! They mostly live about 20 years.

In comparison to most other livestock, not very much. Around 10 litres per animal per day should be sufficient, other than very hot weather.

Alpacas and Llamas are browsers. They eat grass, the odd leaf of a tree, hay and chaff.  Great care should b taken feeding concentrates (grain, pellets, stud mix etc). Any time a food ration is changed, the old ration should gradually be decreased while the new ration is gradually increased (i.e. don’t just change the feed, do it slowly).

Most commercial feeds for horses and goats are suitable for alpacas and llamas BUT any feed that contains urea is not suitable.  Urea is commonly found in cattle and sheep feeds, and some mineral blocks.

That depends on your pasture and other things you feed.  Commercial Mineral Blocks are widely available, but generally alpacas and llamas don’t lick things, so mineral blocks may not be very useful.  It is important to make sure that any minerals (or other feed) you use for your alpacas and llamas does not include urea. We always have containers with a commercial mix of loose minerals available to the animals.  Most of the year they ignore it, but then sometimes they eat a lot of the minerals.

Generally somewhere between 14-24 months of age – depending on their size and willingness.

Llamas usually about 11.5 months. Alpacas usually about 11 months.

Crias are usually weaned about 6 months of age.

It can vary from about 9 months to 24 months.

When: Ask your Vet’s opinion. Some vets prefer to castrate as early as possible, while the cria is following his mother around (this helps him heal).  Other vets say that if an animal is castrated early it tends to get “leggie”.

Why: We castrate when the male becomes a nuisance, usually around 12 months of age. It is important to do this when the weather conditions are appropriate. It is best done on days that aren’t hot, cold, wet or windy (usually spring or autumn).

Crias and shorn animals can suffer from cold, especially if the weather is wet, cold and windy. During hot weather, they can suffer extreme heat stress if they are not shorn. They don’t tolerate humidity well.

It is preferable NOT to groom your alpaca, because it ruins the lock structure of the fleece.  Llamas can be groomed if you and the llama enjoy it.

We have compiled useful information and resources on our shearing page.

Commercially alpaca fleece is processed to make elite clothing. It can also be used in cottage industry eg spinning, felting, needle felting, stuffing for soft toys, doonas, cat/dog beds. In quantity it can be sold to processors, or growers can have it processed and returned. If you don’t want the fleece, you can sell it to crafters. Poor quality fleece is valuable as a garden mulch.

Yes, just as a dog bites, a cat scratches and a horse kicks, alpacas and llamas spit – mostly at other alpacas and llamas – and rarely at people unless they feel terrified and cornered. Things that make alpacas/llamas spit included establishing their place in the pecking order, protecting their cria, unwanted sexual advances by the male. Alpaca/llama spit consists of chewed up food. It doesn’t smell nice, but is not poisonous or dangerous and is easily washed off.

It would be very unusual to have an alpaca/llama bite.

Alpacas are inclined to kick if they feel threatened (fortunately they have padded feet, not hooves). Rarely does a llama kick.

No, llamas are “herd animals” and feel very threatened if they are not part of a herd. You need at least two animals, and of course three or four or more is even better

No. Unless you have quite a few females and intend to breed, it is better not to own a male (but a gelding is OK). If you wish to breed, you can take your female to a quality stud male for a stud service.

You can’t keep just one – you will need at least two. SHORT ANSWER: probably not.  However, if you have a large yard and/or you are prepared to take them out for regular walks – maybe yes. Most won’t be happy to share their yard with a dog, cat and it isn’t very healthy to share with chooks. They will need enough room, for feeders, waterers, poo pile, shade/shelter, dust bath area and to the move around, have a poo pile etc. You will no longer have a garden. Beware of poisonous plants. You will need to hand feed them, and provide them with mental stimulation and walks.

That is a complicated question, there are many variables. eg how many acres? What quality is the grazing? Are you prepared to provide extra feed? And may other questions. Discuss this with somebody with experience with alpacas/llamas and other livestock.

Alpacas/llamas are very respectful of fences. If the fences will hold sheep, they should hold alpacas/llamas. It is important that fences are well strained and don’t have broken or loose wires. Barbed wire isn’t really suitable for most livestock – especially alpacas/llamas.

In a trailer with a cage, a horse float, a van and sometimes in the back seat of a car.

Alpaca/llama poo is extremely useful as a garden fertilizer/mulch. As they poo in piles it is easy to collect.

See Guardians.

Terminology

Boarding an animal. The owner of the animal is the agistee, the farmer is the agistor

The camel family, including dromedary, bactrian, guanaco, llama, vicuna, alpaca

Fibre that has been brushed ready for spinning or felting

Hay that has been chopped up and bagged  e.g. lucerne, wheaten, oaten

The first milk produced by mammals. It is very important that crias get this

Baby alpaca, llama or llapaca

A dense textile, created by heat, moisture and friction (or by felting needles). It is durable, warm  and has many uses in clothing and craft items

Castrated male llama or llapaca

Castrated male used to protect other livestock from predation.  Must have developed a sense of “territory” (not usually before 18 months of age) before they are ready to guard

Female alpaca, llama, llapaca – we usually just call them “females”

The progeny of a llama father and an alpaca mother. They are fertile.

Alpacas and llamas use a midden – a communal poo pile

Uncastrated male alpaca, llama or llapaca – we usually just call them “males”

Castrated male alpaca

GENERAL HUSBANDRY TASKS AS THEY APPLY TO US

We are available to advise and help our clients with tasks as this is part of our after sales service and support. We want animals we sell to be well cared for, healthy and happy, and we want to make it easy for our clients to look after their animals.

Alpaca Magic offers this for the life of the animal you buy from us because we want our animals to be happy and healthy and our clients to enjoy owning our animals

When: Females and crias fed chaff daily, Hay available for all of our animals every day

Why: Gives us a chance to check our females and crias regularly. Whatever the season, we like our animals to have available hay

To drench an animal means to give it medicine (oral or injectible) to kill internal parasites (worms).

What: We use Cydectin Injectible for Cattle

Why: A worm burden can result in loss of weight, ill-thrift, diarrhoea and even death. The worm burden in one animal, promotes further pasture contamination.

When: At shearing (Spring). Young animals around weaning. Depending on the season, we may drench at other times as required.

When: Initially crias are vaccinated around 6 weeks and then about 12 weeks and then annually at shearing (spring)

Why: 5-in-1 vaccine covers 5 different clostridial diseases. Animals are protected against these diseases by regular vaccination.

When: First injection around beginning of May, followed by a second injection about mid June.  Annually for all alpacas/llamas under 2 years.

Why: During the winter months alpacas/ llama can suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, which can result in rickets (eg lameness, bent knees etc). Some animals (especially dark coloured and very fleecy animals require annual Vit A,D E injection

When: At shearing (spring) and then as required about 3 monthly

Why: Long toe nails are uncomfortable for animals, and can cause permanent damage to tendons etc.

When: Spring – October/November

Why: Shearing should be carried out before summer and before seed set (to keep the fleeces grass seed free)

See our shearing page for more information.

When: Oct – Dec, April – June.

Why: Gestation is 11–12 months so we don’t want crias born in the heat of summer or the cold of winter (also not as many daylight hours in winter).

When: Usually between 8am and 3pm

Why: Because alpacas/llamas don’t lick their crias dry, crias need the heat of the day to dry off, stand up and suckle.

When: Immediately at birth

Why: Disinfect naval and help protect from disease

Only for llamas.

When: Generally somewhere from 2 weeks and 2 months of age

Why: Crias are done as a group when the majority of crias are being micro chipped. It’s easier when they are smaller

Registration requires a permanent and individual identification.

Only for alpacas.

When: Generally somewhere from 2 weeks and 2 months of age

Why: Crias are done as a group when the majority of crias are being ear tagged

Registration requires a permanent and individual identification.

When: 3–6 months of age

Why: It is important to keep records and ensure that the record of the sire and dam of the cria being registered is accurate

When: From a few days old. It can start later (say 1 – 6 months old). Start about 5 minutes a session

Why: Having animals who will lead is convenient.  It is easier to train young animals than mature ones. Short but regular sessions are better than long sessions

When: Generally 14-17 days after birthing

Why: Females are particularly fertile at this time

When: We assume that all male crias born will be castrated. Occasionally there is one that is outstanding – possibly worthy of being a stud male. He is regularly assessed and reassessed – only exceptional males stay whole.

Why: A stud male should be capable of mating around 50 females annually. Consequently, not many fertile males are required for stud purposes – say about 1 male in every 100 male crias MIGHT be worthy. Just because a male has semen doesn’t mean he is worthy of being a stud male.

When: Usually around 12 – 18 months of age (actual age, maturity, health and onset of interest in females are signals that it might be time to castrate.) and on days that aren’t hot, cold, wet or windy (usually spring or autumn).

Why: All alpaca/llama males should be castrated unless they are of exceptional quality and are required for stud purposes. Wethers/geldings are happier than a whole male that isn’t being used for stud services (see Stud Males). Days that are hot, cold, wet or windy create extra stress and health risks.

Castrated males are best. Females are sometimes good, whole males are not suitable as they may decide to be amorous with their charges, and can injure the females and young of the other species. Castrated llamas or alpacas over the age of 18 months are ideal.

When: When necessary

Why: Well cared for animals still sometimes need a vet. We do a lot of our own basic vet work.

When: Daily.

What records are important: Varies from farm to farm, but here are some paddock records we find useful:

  • General Husbandry processes, vaccination, drench, toe trims, shearing, weight scoring
  • Observations of animals in the paddock eg, dropped ear, closed or runny eye, sore leg, constipation, diarrhoea etc Observations of ill health can be very useful should veterinary attention be required. eg when you first noticed the symptoms? Do other animals in the herd share these symptoms?
    Was veterinary attention carried out?  Did the animal require further treatment? What was the outcome of the treatment?
  • Mating details When a females is mated, which sire was used, dates she spits off (several spit-offs are required before we believe she is pregnant). Date we expect the female to birth.
  • Birthing Records Date of birth, sex, colour, sire and dam (all essential for registration). Any abnormalities or other observations.

When: Before weaning

Why: It is important to be able to identify every animal. To register an animal it must carry individual identification – llamas are micro-chipped; alpacas are IAR tagged, and sometimes carry an additional plastic tag.