Keeping Alpacas in Your Backyard. Complete Guide

keeping alpacas in your backyard

Have you ever wondered if you could maintain an alpaca in your backyard after seeing its welcoming grin? Well, you might be surprised by the response.

Alpacas, it turns out, are pretty similar to humans. They are gregarious creatures who do not thrive when left alone and secluded. Alpacas require the interaction that comes with being in the company of other alpacas.

In other words, unless you have the room and finances to sustain a small herd, keeping alpacas in your backyard might not be the greatest choice. Continue reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of having an alpaca in your yard.

Can you have an alpaca in the backyard?

Yes, to put it briefly. Alpacas are lovely pets, albeit they do require a bit more space than a cat or dog.

Alpacas are traditionally farm animals, and like most farm animals, they are social. These animals prefer to live in herds and do not desire to be alone. As a result, you are permitted to have an alpaca in your yard.

However, if you want your alpacas to thrive, you can’t just keep one. Alpacas live in vast herds on farms because there is enough room for them.

However, in an urban backyard, you may not have as much space. If you wish to maintain alpacas, you should be prepared to care for at least three of them. This number was not chosen at random.
There’s a reason why having at least three alpacas in your backyard is suggested.

You should not keep more than three alpacas because they will become overcrowded.
Having just one alpaca in your yard can lead to their death from loneliness and isolation.
If you only have two alpacas, one will become the leader, and the other will be suppressed.
With three alpacas, the hierarchy is more balanced. The female is the leader, and the other two alpacas naturally take on their duties. After all, alpacas have been shown to thrive and survive longer in a proper hierarchical context.

Is it legal to own an alpaca in the United States?

An alpaca can be owned anywhere in the United States! There is no law prohibiting you from acquiring one of these adorable animals. Alpaca breeders can be found in numerous states, including Florida and Alaska, to name a few.

Aside from legally obtaining one, the second most critical aspect to consider is where you would store them.

You must consider how much acreage your alpacas will require. You can keep your alpacas out in the open in your backyard when the weather is nice.

All you need is around half an acre of land for three alpacas. You must, however, ensure that they have access to fresh water and hay at all times.

Aside from the space, you’ll need to consider how to keep them safe in your backyard.

Setting up a fence is the greatest solution. While alpacas have natural defenses such as spit secretions, they are nonetheless vulnerable to numerous predatory creatures.
As a result, you’ll need to secure them with a sturdy railing that can keep creatures like dogs and bears out.
However, you must safeguard them from harming themselves, so avoid using barbed-wire fences.

Is it possible to keep alpacas inside home?

Alpacas, like any other domesticated animal, can come inside your home if they want to. And if you (weirdly) desire it.

After all, each person’s home has its own set of norms and rules. You don’t want an animal that’s bigger than you roaming around your living room, do you?

Alpacas, fortunately for you, prefer to be outside with the rest of the herd. The sole exception is in the event of inclement weather, in which case you should construct a barn.

What should you consider if you want to keep alpacas?

To guarantee that your tiny alpaca herd survives in your backyard, you must be aware of several variables.

Alpacas are rarely sick, but they can become extremely ill. When they do, though, they will require veterinary treatment. Alpacas metabolize meals and other foreign things in their bodies in a variety of ways. Because alpacas are distant relatives of camels, they receive information differently than other animals.

The dosage of worm medicine given to cattle, for example, will differ significantly from that given to an alpaca. If you’re treating an alpaca for worms, you’ll need more than four times the amount of medication you’d give a cow.

To keep your alpacas from becoming critically ill, follow these steps:

  • Ascertain that they are up to date on all immunizations and that they have regular vet checkups.
  • Ensure they have enough fresh grass or hay to eat daily.
  • At least once or twice a week, they should clean their herd space.

Homesteading with alpacas

Adding alpacas to your backyard or property might give your life a new depth. When people look after animals, they have a chance to see the world in a different light. We also learn about ourselves as a result of the process.

Alpacas like interacting with humans, but they require connection with fellow alpacas above everything else. They are happy and secure because of their friendship. As a result, if you have the room and money to support a small herd, you’d be better off investing in one.

Alpacas were traditionally kept as livestock rather than pets. As a result, they might still act distant among others. Alpacas are native to South America, notably Peru’s Andes Mountains area. Alpacas were seldom utilized as pack animals for hauling heavy goods, unlike llamas, which are bigger. This was due to their diminutive size.

For generations, alpacas have been raised for their fleece, which is the actual name for their fiber. Their fleece is very delicate and resembles angora (rabbit) fur. After their fleece is sheared, it may be carded and spun into yarn, which can be used to make warm blankets, caps, socks, shawls, ponchos, scarves, and mittens among other things.

Alpacas as pets

Alpacas have grown in popularity in recent years in North America, where individuals are increasingly keeping them as pets in their backyards and on homesteads. Today, you can discover alpaca farmers that sell pet-quality alpacas for around $500 per animal. Of course, the purchase price is only the beginning of the expenditures associated with having an alpaca herd in your backyard.

Alpacas come in various breeds, with Huacaya and Suri Alpacas being two of the most popular. Pet-quality alpacas are often not meant for future breeding, which means they should not be expected to reproduce for commercial purposes and then sell their offspring. Instead, their primary function is to give the kind of company that you’d expect from a family pet, as well as maybe provide fleece for yarn.

Alpacas yarn

Many homesteaders and other craftspeople who like spinning yarn or knitting, particularly those who do it for a living, will discover that raising alpacas offers them a consistent supply of high-quality fleece.

Natural alpaca fleece may be spun into yarn and then hand-dyed using natural substances to achieve various earthy colors. Homesteaders who maintain alpacas on their farm frequently sell spools of alpaca yarn to other artisans or knit it into handcrafted things for sale, such as hats and socks.

Shearing your alpacas

Alpacas are sheared for their fleece once a year, generally in the spring. An alpaca will not mind having its surplus fleece shorn after its fleece has kept the animal warm over the winter since this can help its skin breathe.

According to research, if you want to shear your alpaca, it is better for them to do it while standing than shearing it when it is being held down. And the less stressful this process is for your alpacas, the better.

How much land do bakyard alpacas need?

Alpacas require around one acre of land for five animals. On a single acre, you might keep up to 10 alpacas. However, because grazing grass on one acre is limited, you’ll need to supplement their diet with hay once or twice a day.

In a pasture area, alpacas will feed mainly on alfalfa and fescue grass. Ideally, you should move the herd between many pastures so that they may feed on the freshest grass available.

You’ll also need to clean the pastures at least twice a week to avoid illness from spreading. Any smaller fenced-in spaces, such as pens where alpacas are groomed, watered, or fed hay, should be kept clean and well-maintained daily.

Fencing for backyard alpacas

Alpacas aren’t the sort of creatures to test the limits. As a result, if you construct a fence on your property, it will probably remain in place.

However, a gated boundary for alpacas is necessary to keep out other animals that might want to enter. Predators may include creatures such as coyotes, mountain lions, or bears, depending on where you reside.

Install mesh fencing or a chain-link fence that is dense enough to keep other animals out.

Medical care for backyard alpacas

Regular exams for deworming, examining teeth, and cutting nails will be part of alpaca veterinary care. Furthermore, alpacas are susceptible to a variety of ailments. If your alpacas appear to be losing weight for no apparent cause, you should be concerned.

Alpacas should be vaccinated once a year. Alpaca immunizations are often deemed “off label,” which means that the makers cannot guarantee the effectiveness of the vaccines for alpacas. In addition, certain live-culture vaccinations should not be given to pregnant female alpacas.

Llamas and Alpacas: What’s the Difference?

Because alpacas and llamas are both camelid animals, many people mistake the two. Camels, which originated in the eastern hemisphere, are relatives of alpacas and llamas.

Although neither alpacas nor llamas have humps (like a camel), they have a lot in common, starting with their two-toed feet. Llamas have longer, rounder ears and long rounded faces than alpacas, which have small, sharp ears and foreshortened features.

Alpacas only reach three feet tall and weigh roughly 150 pounds, but llamas reach four feet tall and weigh 450 pounds.

It’s easy to see why alpacas are regarded as the ideal backyard pet. Alpaca fleece is also finer and thicker than llama fleece, making it preferable for spinning and knitting.

Interesting facts about alpacas

  • Alpaca fleece comes in 22 natural colors, ranging from pink and white to dark brown and black to tawny tan.
  • Alpacas live for about 20 years. and female alpacas can procreate throughout all their lives.
  • Alpacas, contrary to popular belief, do not spit much. This is only likely to happen if you have a pregnant female alpaca attempting to fend off an approaching male.
  • Humming is a sound made by alpacas. A mother’s humming noise is a common way for her to connect with her children.
  • When alpacas are startled, they emit a staccato tooting sound. When one alpaca begins to sound out the cry, it is frequently taken up and imitated by the rest of the herd.
  • A natural technique for warding off predators is for herds to stick together.

Alpacas are environmentally friendly animals

Alpacas are considered environmentally beneficial for a variety of reasons. To begin with, their feces is a natural fertilizer since it generates good manure. On the other hand, Alpacas tend to leave their droppings in only one area of the pasture. It will be easy for you to maintain their pasture clean as a result of this.

Finally, rather than tearing the grass out from its roots, alpacas graze lightly on the soil, nibbling at the sensitive section of the grass above the surface of the earth. Alpacas’ feet do not harm the soil when they walk on it since they do not have hard hooves like other herd animals.

Alpaca Zoning Regulations

Before you buy any alpacas, make sure you verify your local rules and regulations, including zoning restrictions, to make sure you’re authorized to keep them on your property. These laws will generally state clearly which animals are permitted and which are prohibited in your area.

For example, you might be limited to four domestic animals per parcel of land, with dogs, cats, and rabbits allowed, as well as one pot-bellied pig. However, exotic species such as lions, tigers, bears, and alpacas may be restricted (oh my).

Zoning limitations are also a consideration. Your site may be zoned for agricultural, but that doesn’t mean alpacas are allowed. If you raise alpacas just as pets rather than to produce wool (or any other reason that could be considered as agricultural), for example, you will not be able to meet these zoning standards.

Even if you follow the zoning requirements in your location, there’s still the possibility that your alpacas will annoy your neighbors. Although this is unlikely if you get along well with your neighbors and keep your property (and alpacas) in good shape, there is always the chance that your neighbors will file a complaint with your local government.

Neighbors may object to alpaca-related noise, stench, or any other aspect that they consider a nuisance. If the complaint gets severe enough, you may lose your ability to have alpacas on your property, which will inevitably result in a lot of stress (for both you and your alpacas) if you have to find new homes for your herd.

We don’t want to discourage you from keeping alpacas in your backyard or on your property if you have a strong desire to do so. However, we do want you to understand that it’s critical to be realistic from the start and be aware of any potential problems before purchasing a herd.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the challenges of having an alpaca in your backyard – or, more accurately, a small herd of alpacas in your backyard.

When it comes to caring for these animals properly, there is a lot to learn. Alpacas, on the other hand, can make good pets if you have the space and resources. Having an alpaca herd can undoubtedly warm your heart.

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Emma Olsen
I’m a gardener and blogger with over 20 years of expertise writing about and cultivating fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I have extensive experience in organic and sustainable gardening, perennials, annuals, and sustainable and urban farming. I’m a nature freak and I enjoy bird watching and swimming with sea creatures.