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John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Care and Shelter

Alpacas are a hardy breed of animal, and possibly the easiest livestock to care for. Very little is needed to care for alpacas beyond the basics of shelter and good pasture. We have found it to cost less to care for our alpacas than our family pets, on a per head basis. Listed below are a few of the things necessary for the day to day care of alpacas.

The Basics

Our alpaca farm experiences allow us to help those who are investigating the alpaca ownership and breeding. Able to laugh at our early mistakes, we share our missteps so that others may avoid them. John has proven experience in such areas as balancing a collapsed barn roof on a pole, or pulling corner posts by over-tensioning a fence, "What now?" farm experiences to try to avoid.

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Land for the Alpaca Farm

Alpacas are hardy and adaptive, making the selection of suitable property relatively easy.  are suitable for an alpaca farming operation. Keep in mind, the alpaca's natural range in South America is one that most Americans would find to be quite inhospitable. It is at an extremely high elevation, and forage is extremely sparse. It is not the type of land that most of us would choose to run a farming operation on!

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Buying Farm Land

Purchasing Farm Land requires a bit of planning. If you live in the city or suburbs, suburban counties surrounding metropolitan areas are good regions to look into. You will be within commuting distance of your job and, therefore, be able to continue to work while you establish your alternative farm enterprise.

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Pasture and Paddock Design

Pasture Layout encouraging efficient grazing and herd management deserves a good deal of planning. Fences are expensive, and are generally not easily moved! Rotation should be included in the planning to maximize natural forage production.

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Farm Fences

Farm Fences play a central role in any livestock operation. The wise farm owner will recognize that their fencing is their most important investment. Fences will define the ultimate usability of the land, while facilitating livestock control, predator control and pasture management.

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Veterinary care should always be done in conjunction with the advice of a licensed veterinarian. Fortunately, most common procedures and first aide can be done by the alpaca owner. It is very important that the owner know their herd, since even serious problems can develop quickly, with only subtle signs showing at first. When in doubt, contact your vet.

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Shearing is usually required once a year. Many alpaca owners fire professional shearers to do this, although it is quite possible to learn to do this oneself.

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Feed, of course, is a necessary consideration for any livestock operation.  Alpacas are excellent foragers, and good converters of feed, helping to keep costs down.

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Shelter for alpacas is pretty basic in most areas.  Protection from wind and rain are the most important considerations, and simple three sided shelters are often all that is needed.
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Transporting Alpacas is easily done. These animals hae been transported in everything from the back seat of a Cesna to Ford Escort station wagons, mini-vans, and up to custom designed fully enclosed trailors with closed circuit TV that can be monitored from the cab of the towing vehicle.

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Health Papers

Health Papers are required for the inter-State transfer if alpacas, and are usually required for any shows that the animals are taken to. Since many alpaca sales take place across State lines, it is important to understand this subject.

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Essential Items

Essential Items for the alpaca owner do not form a particularly long list, but if you don't have what you need when you need it, it can be very frustrating.  This is a list of those items that we have found to be necessary on a regular basis.
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Alpaca farms need some basic supplies to care for their animals.  Although easy to care for, there are some regular husbandry procedures that that need to be completed.

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Alpaca Sales

...the lady wore long curls all down her back and a brown alpaca gown; and they all seemed under the impression that the most important sights which awaited them were...

Frederic Balfour
Austin and His Friends
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