So who are we? We are Peter and Liz, living just over the border in Cornwall betwean Launceston and Callington. We have been slowly building our herd of alpacas, sticking to the principal the "Good enough just isn't good enough." When it comes to alpaca breeding, only EXCELLENCE will do.
We purchased our land here about 10 years ago. We moved on to the land in a small caravan, got temporary permission to build a log cabin and, after a long story, we secured full planning permission. We have just finished building our lovely new home, although the landscaping is still to do. We also have to establish our veg plot and restock our behive, which got wiped out by hornets a couple of years ago. We still have our cabin, and from 2020, we will be letting it as a sort of training centre cum holiday let. It's for couples only (or singles) and definitely no dogs. Your time is for you to dictate, but can include time spent learing any of our small-holding tasks, animal husbandry, fencing, self sufficiency, grassland management and so on. We can also cover some basic spinning and weaving. And of course, you need to spend some time exploring the area, the Cornish Coasts, the Tamar Valley, the moors and so on. We can also cover the ins and outs of planning and building in open country, which the planning regulations do not allow ... unless. So much to do, so little time to cram it all in. If you want more information, just drop us an email, and maybe make an early reservation.
There are any number of questions that you may want to ask. We have put together a Health and Welfare Guide, which is freely available to anyone who wants a copy. It covers many of the issues that we have had to sort out for ourselves over the years. Just send us an email and we can send you a copy right back.Here is an extract from the Guide, which may well answer some of your questions.
How many alpacas can I keep on my land? If you read the books and the web sites, you will often find advice ranging from 4 to 6 animals per acre. Our advice is that the MAXIMUM you should consider is 3 per acre. If you have an acre of land, divide it in half, keep your three animals on one half for six weeks, then move them to the other half. Rest part of your land and allow the grass to recover.
What are they for? Alpacas are primarily a fleece bearing animal, producing a few kilos of high quality fleece each year. The best quality fleeces are those from younger animals, and the longer the animal can keep producing fine fleeces, the better animal it is. The best males can still turn out baby quality fleeces until they are 10 years old or more. Alpacas are also used as guardians, running with the sheep at lambing time, and with the chickens all year around. They donít like predators such as foxes, and have a natural instinct to drive them out of the field. They also make great lawn mowers. And finally, they make great listeners, just walk amongst them and tell them all your worries.
What do they eat? Grass. We have found our animals donít eat the weeds, which makes our fields look scrappy at times. Other herds eat everything. They will also need a supplement that provides extra vitamins and minerals. Find one that tastes nice and feed them daily, or twice daily. Feeding them by hand keeps them tame. They should also have good hay available, especially in the winter.
Fencing. Unlike sheep, alpacas are quite gentle with fencing. Stock fencing with two additional strands of plain wire will work well. Avoid barbed wire which can be dangerous. Electric fencing is a waste of time in keeping alpacas in, but is useful for keeping wildlife (deer, badgers etc)out. Fencing is part of your biosecurity, so check it regularly.
Shelter. The main reason for shelter is so that you can sleep more comfortably on stormy nights knowing they are somewhere dry. Our boys love to go in a shed, and the main issue is getting them out again. Our girls however, hate going under cover. We live in Cornwall, and our primary weather concern is rain and wind. In Scotland, the concern must be drifting snow and very low temperatures. In between will be all sorts of local conditions, and you will need to make a common sense decision as to what to do.
Bio-Security. This is a new subject for many alpaca owners and breeders, including us. It is the science of keeping disease out of your herd, and ultimately, of stopping diseases spreading from your herd to somebody elseís. You will need to take some common sense measures, the small amount of time it will take will be more than compensated by the savings in vets fees.
If you want to have a full copy of our Health and Welfare Guide, just send us an email.