How do you create a healthy environment for your alpacas?

Alpacas have been successful raised in every state of the United States and do well both in northern and southern states. So, wherever you are in the US, you can successfully raise alpacas. These animals are hardy by nature and survive and adapt well.

At the same time, its in the best interest of the alpaca farmer (breeder) to ensure a healthy farm environment for his breed. The more suitable the environment for them to thrive, the better your chance of having more fiber.

Alpacas do well in the northern states and their thick fiber grown by winter helps protect them from the elements. A successful alpaca farmer (like any other farmer) will be in tune with the weather. Knowing when potential heat waves or high humidity days are approaching will help you be better prepared for helping them cool off. This can be as simple as hosing their legs and bellies with water and providing extra water buckets to help them get through the heat wave.

Consider keeping a hose attached and ready to go as soon as spring arrives. Whatever your approach, keep a closer eye on your alpacas on very hot days to make sure they are doing just fine. Generally the above will be enough to keep your breed happy and cool if you live in the northern states.

If you live in the southern states where heat and humidity are higher and harsher, then you have take a couple more steps. Consider installing cooling fans in the barn since this is where alpacas spend most of their daylight hours anyways during the summer. Keep a more frequent cooling schedule and perhaps have a neighbor or family member check in, if you work away from home. Think twice before installing regular fans instead of barn fans. The regular fans that are used in homes are not ideal for barns and can cause fires. They are also prone to dust buildup so its best to invest to in barn fans.

Alpacas have a few tricks up their sleeves as well when it comes to cooling off in the summer. They like cool dry weather, so consider planting trees in your pasture to help them get some shade on the sunny hot days. Think carefully about the areas on your farm that alpacas will have access to, and make sure to space them out so they always have a nice shelter nearby.

Another trick that alpacas have to cool off is that they like rolling around in bare spots in the pasture covering themselves with sand. So consider having some of these “sand spots” as well in your pasture.

If you live in an extremely northern climate where the winters are very harsh, you should consider focusing on Huacaya alpacas since these are larger and better able to handle colder climates than Suri alpacas.

When it comes to shelter, less is usually better. You can house your alpacas in a traditional animal barn or you can have a three-sided shelter. The advantage of an open shelter is that alpacas like to see and so visibility is a desirable advantage.

Second, on hot and humid days the breeze that will come from the open area will help cool them off as opposed to a traditional animal barn. Alpacas really only need a means to get out of the wind, rain and strong sun so your open shelter will be better for them and help reduce the need for cooling fans.