You own, or are thinking of owning, an alpaca pet on your farm. Alpacas are gentle creatures that will bring years of pleasure if properly cared for. Below are 7 deadly mistakes that you can avoid so your camelid friend will be with you until old age.
Mistake # 1 – Insufficient fencing
Your alpaca will not challenge a fence. Your fencing should be made to keep predators out. Neighborhood dogs are the #1 killer of alpacas. Be sure and provide a fence that predators can not get over, under, or through. Read more about alpaca fencing.
Mistake # 2 – Not checking for poisonous plants
Your Alpaca is a ruminant. They eat weeds, bark off wood posts, and anything else they want to try. They can not tell if what they are eating is good for them or not. You must do that for them. Your pastures and your yard must be free of plants that are poisonous to alpacas. Many ornamental plants are poisonous to alpacas.
Mistake # 3 – The open gate
Forgetting to close a gate behind you leaves your alpaca open to mistakes number 1 and 2. Without a fence to protect them, all alpacas can do is run from a prey. If they get cornered, they will be killed. A pack of dogs or coyotes can bring an alpaca down quickly. If your alpacas stay inside the fenced area, an open gate allows predators to get inside and kill.
You may have taken the time to be sure your home is free of poisons but your neighbors haven’t. An open gate allows your alpaca to roam and possibly get into your neighbors poisonous ornamental plants.
Mistake # 4 – Improper fencing material
Those wood split rail fences look fantastic. White rail horse fencing looks pristine. Field fencing is cheap. None of these will work for your alpaca pet. Use 2 x 4 wire no climb fencing. Use any of the other fencing and you are taking a chance with your alpacas life. The first two are just too open, allowing predators into your pastures. The holes on field fencing are just too large. An alpaca can stick it’s head through and die. Their heads may not come back through as easily and they will panic and strangle.
Mistake # 5 – Not shearing
Alpacas natural habitat is high in the Andean Mountains where it stays cool. Their fiber is very dense. If you do not shear your alpaca pet in the spring, and you live somewhere that summer temperatures climb, your alpaca can die from heat stress. If your alpaca is having trouble staying in a cush position, breathing with its mouth open, drooling, or walking stiffly, your alpaca is in trouble and needs to be cooled down quickly. Avoid this emergency by shearing before the heat soars.
Mistake # 6 – Feeding pellets
You can feed pellets to get needed supplements to your alpaca pet, but you must be very careful. Your alpaca will be in competition with any other alpaca for the most pellets they can eat and will grab large mouthfuls and swallow without chewing so they can get more. This causes a choking problem. The container you put the pellets in makes a big difference. A small bucket that hangs on the fence is not good. The pellets pile up and your alpaca can gulp a big mouthful and choke. It’s better to have a long trough that you can spread in a thin layer. Placing rocks in buckets or feeders can help. The alpaca must pick around the rocks and can not get large mouthfuls. You force them to eat slower.
Mistake # 7 – Irregular or no worming
Your alpaca pet will eat off the ground. Worms get into their system. There’s no way to avoid it. If you don’t worm your alpaca regularly, your alpaca will eventually die of malnutrition. If you live in an area that has white-tail deer, you might have meningeal worms. If your alpaca gets meningeal worms it will die a horrible death. Check with your veterinarian to see if meningeal worms exist in your area and the proper scheduling and dose of worming medication.
If you avoid these 7 deadly mistakes, your will take big steps to insuring your alpaca pet has a long and happy life. Alpacas can live 20 years or more so you have a long time to enjoy the benefits of owning an alpaca.