Farming Alpaca Southland



Whats the difference between alpacas and llamas?

Llamas are larger and used for guarding flocks and as pack animals. Alpacas are smaller  - 50-80 kg, and have traditionally been used for their softer fiber, hides, and meat.

How long do alpacas live?

There is diversity in how long alpacas can live. If they survive their early months well, then they may go on to 15 - 20 years.

What are their common illnesses?

Vitamin D deficiency is the main problem in Southland. This can affect their growth and wellbeing. Vitamin D injections are recommended for cria at least twice in the winter months. They are also vulnerable to worm burdens, and opportunistic infections if conditions are tough. Rye grass staggers can cause neurological problems.

Do they spit?

Spitting is their means of defence when threatened.

What do you call them?

Males: machos, Females: hembra, Babies: cria

What do they like to eat?

Grass, good quality hay, they love baleage, occasional pellets, occasional lucerne

What sort of fences do you need?

Sheep fences are usually enough.

How long is their gestation?

11- 12 months

Do they ever have twins?

Rarely but it does happen

What do you do with the fibre?

Lots of possibilities: Look up Alpaca Association of New Zealand website for detailed information

Are any plants poisonous to them?

Yes - there is also information on this on the Alpaca Association of New Zealand website. The common ones are ragwort, buttercup, hemlock, foxgloves, deadly nightshade and rhododendrons. If there is enough grazing, they will leave these plants alone, but if hungry.....

How do you shear them?

We lie them down on their side - secure their legs, then shear first one side, then the other, the neck last. Its best to sort the fibre as it come off. So you need a shearer, an extra handler, and a fleece collector.