John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
Alpaca Farming
Alpaca Industry
Alpacas for Sale
Our Alpaca Farm
Alpaca Pictures
Supporting Links

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.

Most alpaca breeders prefer 5 foot no-climb fence. Since alpacas rarely challenge a fence, its primary purpose is to keep predators out. Domestic dogs are one of the largest contributors to lost alpacas.

It is said that alpacas do not challenge fences. Our experiences suggest that there are exceptions to this rule of thumb. We have seen breeding males leap over a 4 foot fence in order to attack other males that they perceived as invading their territory. We have also experienced fence failure due to large males rubbing themselves against the fence, and various calamities such as trees being blown down on a fence and even the collapse of a shelter in a wind storm.

Build a sturdy fence. (See our section on Fence Building )

One of the primary purposes of fencing is to prevent predators from accessing your herd. The exterior fencing should be a minimum of 5 feet high. The should be constructed of a sturdy, woven fence material. Many alpaca owners have opted for no-climb horse fencing, but we have not experienced a need for that added expense.

Generally, a three or four foot high woven wire field fence with two strands of high tensile wire across the top will be sufficient. In areas with large predators (cougar or bear) additional steps may be necessary. Check with other local livestock owners to see what they recommend.

Steps need to be taken to prevent predators from burrowing under the fence. These measures might include staking the fence down at regular intervals, a charged "hot-wire" near the ground, or running a strand of barbed wire a couple of inches above the ground around the perimeter. Some owners have taken the step of burying the lower portion of their fence, or burying chicken wire or barbed wire. We would recommend against this. Buried wire will corrode quickly. It will also be difficult to remove if there is ever a reason. And, following Murphy's law, it is inevetible that at some point that buried wire will find itself wrapped around a piece of farm equipment such as a tiller blade.

Four foot interior fences are usually sufficient. Your interior fences will determine how efficiently you will be able to use your land.

Start with a plan.

Gates are great. There can never be enough of them. There is nothing more frustrating than standing ten feet from a piece of trash that needs to be picked up from the pasture, but having to walk two hundred yards to get to it - down the fence to the nearest gate and then back up to where the trash is.

Be sure that your gates are wide enough to allow access by your equipment. All gates should be a minimum of 10 feet.

Gates are the most expensive part of a fence. If sufficient gates do not fit in the budget, plan your fences for their future addition. It is far easier to set posts before the wire is strung. This will allow you to simply cut out a section of fencing, tie it off to the existing posts, and hang your gate.

Again, start with a plan.

Proper fencing facilitates efficient use of your pastures. Several small paddacks are better than just a couple of large pastures. Ideally, you will want at least 6 small paddocks for each group of alpacas that you plan to run. This will allow for effective pasture rotation. How the fence lines are laid out will determine how easy it is to move the alpacas from paddock to paddock.

Effective fencing for an alpaca farming operation is art and science. It is not significantly different than any other livestock operation. Therefore, the wise alpaca farmer will take lessons from other, experienced livestock farmers.


Alpaca Sales

"A little further along we saw a reverend man named Pendergast, who had come to Soledad to build a church, standing under a cocoanut palm with his little black alpaca coat and green umbrella..."

O. Henry
Sixes and Sevens
About the Quotations