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

The choice of land for an alpaca operation can be based more on the convenience of the owner than the animals. However, if one intends to diversify their farm operation (always a good idea), they should select farm land that is suitable for their overall plans.

Many sources will state that one can keep as many as 10 alpacas per acre. With irrigation and good forage this is true, but a more reasonable figure is probably 5-7 alpacas per acre.

The best land for an alpaca farming operation will be similar to that for any other livestock farm. Flat land with deep rich soils will provide a number of advantages, including the ease and flexibility of fencing and the use of farm equipment. Water availability should always be a factor when selecting suitable land. Some States will not allow the use of domestic water supplies for irrigating farm land or watering livestock. Check your local regulations before committing yourself to a piece of land or a herd of alpacas!

Forage for your alpacas is another consideration. Alpacas are "browsers" and will sample almost anything that is growing. It is important to be sure that your land is free of toxic plants. Problem plants can be identified with the help of your local Extension office. Information can also be found on the Internet.

How much land is needed will be predicated on the goals of the individual alpaca farm. (See our Checklist for new Alpaca Owners) A five acre parcel can provide four acres of pasture, which will sustain 20-30 alpacas with proper pasture management. Keep in mind though, if these are breeding females the load on the pasture will be greater due to the production of cria. (This sounds pretty basic, but there have been a number of examples of folks running out of land due to poor planning on this simple point.) It is also important to plan for herd management, which will entail keeping males seperate from females, providing an area for weaning, and preferably providing a quarantine area for alpacas that have left your property.

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"His dress was simple, consisting of a pair of trowsers, and a shirt of the cotton cloth of the country, of a dark blue colour; a poncho of alpaca wool covered his shoulders, while a sash was fastened round his waist, and his feet were protected by sandals, fastened on by leather thongs. He threw himself on the ground before my father, who went to meet him, and taking his hand, he looked up imploringly in his face...."

W.H.G. Kingston
Manco, the Peruvian Chief - An Englishman's Adventures in the Country of the Incas
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