10 Reasons to Raise Alpacas

Why did we start raising alpacas? We fell in love with them, and the alpaca lifestyle! There are soo many more reasons to choose to start an alpaca farm…here’s just ten of them!

1. Love of the Animals

Like I said, we fell in love with the animals! When we visited that first alpaca farm and saw those intriguing looking animals, it was love at first sight! There is a peacefulness about these gentle animals, with their long elegant necks, large eyes, long lashes, and gentle humming. Alpacas continue to transfix us, making them irresistible for those of us who have taken the “taken the plunge.” 

We raise both suris and huacayas!

2. The Love of Luxury Fiber

As I sorted through the crop of fiber after our first shearing, I knew I wanted to learn how to use such luxurious fiber. It is very high quality, super soft, fluffy, lustrous, and silky. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is not prickly and has no lanolin, making alpaca fiber hypoallergenic.

Suri Fiber

The fiber can be sold raw off the animal, carded and spun into yarn, crocheted, knit, or woven into countless products, or felted. The possibilities are endless!

Huacaya Fiber

In both our Online Store and in our Farm Store, you can find anything from raw fiber to finished garments made directly from the fiber of alpacas. Though we do breed and sell the alpacas themselves, today the fiber is my main reason for raising alpacas.

3. The Desire for a Rural Lifestyle

Having alpacas gives us a reason to get outside, be in the outdoors, and enjoy the beauty all around us. Though we live right next to a major highway, there is something much simpler about living on a farm, raising animals, caring for their basic needs because they depend on us to do so, and sometimes getting dirty. It’s a slower pace. I love living with nature all around us, and looking out my window seeing alpacas graze in the pasture just makes it all that more enjoyable. Alpacas are gentle, inquisitive creatures that make us want to take time out to watch and enjoy them.

Our dogs Lizzie and Louie have a lot of courage on the other side of the fence!

4. A Great Family Endeavor

Living on a farm of any kind teaches kids responsibility, and alpacas are good with kids. When visitors come, we suggest they crouch down, so they are more child size because alpacas are less intimidated by children and more apt to approach them. There are tons of ways kids can help to take care of the alpacas, from filling water buckets, to scooping poop, to halter training…there is always a task with which they can help. Giving chores to your children will instill work ethic and responsibility to take into adulthood. Not to mention, they will treasure the bonds they make with the alpacas!

Raising alpacas is great for the kids
My grandson in the middle of things, loving the attention from the alpacas!

If your children participate in 4-H, they can now do alpacas as a 4-H project! When my children were growing up there was not a 4-H group dedicated to alpacas, now it is becoming much more common. The Richland County Fair in Ohio even has an alpaca barn and hosts an alpaca show every year. 4-H is an awesome program for kids to make friends, build leadership skills, learn about the projects they’ve chosen, and participate in the yearly fair. Find out more about Getting Your Children Involved in 4-H.

Alpaca 4h group at the Richland County Fair in Ohio
Richland County 4-H Club

7. Easy to Care For

Compared to other farm animals, alpacas are low maintenance. They are also very adaptable to different kinds of weather and climates. If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep six to ten alpacas. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. They spend most of their time grazing in the pasture. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, de-worming, toenail trimming, occasionally teeth trimming, and annual vaccinations.

8. Alpacas Provide Stress Relief

Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to raise them because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

Suri alpaca at Alpaca Meadows
Not a good look for such a pretty girl!

8. Alpacas are Trainable

Alpacas are perfect animals for training using a halter and leash. Though fearful initially, I’m always amazed how quickly a weanling begins to trust and learn once halter training begins, and how quickly they begin to trust and do what you’re they’re being asked. Alpacas can be taught to maneuver obstacles courses, walk across bridges, over teeter totters, through streamers, and even crawling in and out of mini-vans!

Sisters Amelia and Annalise are out for a walk with me!

9. Alpaca Manure is Great Fertilizer

We absolutely love to use the alpaca poop as fertilizer! In my opinion the smell is not as strong as cow manure and our plants grow like crazy! We take it straight out of the pasture and into the gardens. Free fertilizer is a great perk of alpacas.

Speaking of manure…interestingly enough all alpacas poop in the same place…yes, they have communal dung piles! When it comes to cleaning out the barns or the pasture there are just a few large poop piles where they all do their business. I know, it’s weird, but that’s just their nature and it makes for pretty easy clean-up.

Alpaca Manure for fertilizer
I always treat my flowerbeds to alpaca manure

Alpacas are grazers and they love a nice green pasture. Typically we will let them in one pasture for a few weeks, let them eat it down, and then move them to another pasture to let that one grow back a bit. Rotating pastures also helps with parasite control.

Alpacas in the pasture
The girls enjoying a pretty day and a green pasture

10. The Cutest Babies Ever

One of the greatest joys of raising alpacas is the babies, called crias. Seeing them born is extra special, and watching themrun in the pasture just brings a smile to my face. Females can be bred once a year and have a gestational period of 242-345 days. Working with the animals starting from when they’re crias makes for a great owner/animal relationship and deepens trust…and the babies are sooo cute!

Alpacas are herd animals so if you want one, you’ll need to have two. This is actually a great thing because they don’t really need us. If your animal has at least one companion you don’t need to worry about not having enough time for them or keeping them engaged or entertained. Just get them some buddies and they will be just fine.

Want to know more about alpacas and our farm? Check out our website.

save the planet, wear alpaca!

Inside the Barns at the Richland County Fair

From Richland Source
By Brittany Schock

MANSFIELD, Ohio – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the Richland County Fair. Guests may wander through the barns looking at the cute animals, but few are aware of the hard work put forth by junior fair members weeks and even months in advance.

For 15-year-old Laurasen Combs, her fair project began with the birth of her alpaca – and it was hard work from the very beginning.

“I really like the challenge, so I picked her because she was the hardest one to work with out of the whole herd,” said Combs. “She was the baby no one could catch and was the most ornery.”

Combs’ risk paid off, she won first place in obstacles and second in showmanship with her alpaca. She explained showmanship is judged on how well handler and animal work as a team, but obstacles are all about trust as the animal is led through various structures designed to simulate being out on the trail.

Laurasen Combs at the Richland County Fair

15-year-old Laurasen Combs won first place in obstacles and second place in showmanship with her alpaca at the Richland County Fair on Wednesday. Brittany Schock, Staff Reporter

“I only ran through obstacles with her twice, but we worked on trust a lot,” said Combs. “I sat in the pasture and her on a long lead, and I’d pull her close to me and let her go. That was she doesn’t associate me with work and not having fun, and having to constantly do what she’s not used to.”

While the awards are an added bonus, Combs noted her favorite part about the fair is ultimately the people.

“I like meeting new friends, seeing all my old friends and seeing how hard everybody worked on their projects,” she said.

Working with a smaller animal at the Richland County Fair this week is 15-year-old Macy Eicher of the Lucas Leaders II 4-H club. Eicher was preparing to show her rabbit on Wednesday, and she noted judges are mostly looking for meat on a rabbit.

“They flip your rabbit and they see what the meat looks like, their fur and their feet,” she said.

While there isn’t much she could do to improve the meat on her rabbit, Eicher said she learned to feed her rabbit sunflower seeds to help with their fur quality.

“I like learning what you can learn from the fair and from the rabbits,” she said.

Across the fairgrounds in the pony barn, 11-year-old Chase Davenport from Sandusky County said he’d only practiced working with his pony Penelope about a week before the Richland County Fair. But his aunt, Jessica Garcia, was quick to counter Davenport’s dedication.

“He’s been driving carts since age five – he’s always loved to do it,” said Garcia.

Garcia explained Davenport has been working with Penelope for a long time in preparation for a few other fairs, but only started preparing for the Richland County Fair last week. Davenport’s bond with Penelope was evident on Wednesday when he won first place in the 9-12 age group of the Junior Draft Horse Halter/Showmanship competition.

“We show halter by walking them in, setting them up and making sure their front and back feet are together,” said Davenport. “You walk in front of the judge and follow their directions, they look at you and then you go back in line.”

Davenport said he prepared Penelope for showing by braiding her tail, combing her mane and cleaning her feet. Garcia added the entire family camps out at the fair throughout the week, and it’s hard to keep Davenport out of the barn.

“It’s a fun family experience – we spend lots of time together,” she said.

Read the original here.

Alpaca Meadows