Alpaca fiber is oh, so, so warm and socks, hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters made from alpaca, are the best! Alpacas have their fiber to keep them warm, and honestly they mind the heat much more than the cold. However, there are times and conditions when our alpacas appreciate a little help keeping warm.
Our rule of thumb is that we close the alpacas in the barn, when we hit single digit temperatures. Even alpacas appreciate being able to get out of cold, harsh winds and pelting rain or snow. We line the inside walls of their shelter with bales of straw, stacked three or four high, to cut down on the drafts as well as have handy for layering on top of the manure. Other than the cold and the snow, alpaca care is actually a little easier in the winter because we don’t clean up the manure in the barn. Rather we spread straw on top of the manure. Heat is generated from the lower layers of composting manure and straw.
Feed ahead of the weather. In winter, we always have plenty of hay available and when it is cold, our alpacas easily eat twice as much. They seem to know when a change in the weather is coming.
Older alpacas and little ones can have trouble staying warm. There actually is Winter Wear which can help immensely especially if an alpaca is sick or compromised in some way.
Below are some tips written by Ben Fisco of Humminghill Suri Alpaca Farm on “Raising Alpacas in Harsh Winter Climates”. Read the entire article here.
- Breed for spring and autumn births.
- Use layered, thick, dry bedding in sheds and barn.
- Bring alpacas inside in extreme cold and when they are wet dry them off before sending them back to the pasture.
- Use a flame and fan-free heating system when heat is used.
- Avoid drafts.
- Provide good drainage.
- Provide good ventilation and air circulation in all barns year round.
- Clear pastures of snow in areas large enough to provide exercise.
- For cria hypothermia, place cria in a plastic water-tight bag in warm water up to, but not including, the head.
- Use heated water buckets.
- Use cria coats and coats for adults when you see them shiver. Use common sense.
- Feed large volumes of high quality hay in cold weather.
Several other helpful articles: