"What the heck are they?" That's the question I've gotten more times than I can count since we decided to add Alpacas to the farm. When they first arrived, passersby would slow to a stop trying to figure out what they were seeing. One lady asked if I had camels in my pasture. I resisted the urge to tell her that, "Yes, they are minature, hump-less camels imported from South America".
After folks figure out what they are, the next question is usually, "Why do ya want them?" Here are a few of the reasons I think they are such a good fit for our farm:
1. The most obvious reason...
2. They're pretty easy keepers.
In other words, they are relatively easy to maintain. Pasture and a small amount of grain keep them happy during the warmer months. In the winter they require hay.
Their feet are padded, not hooved so they don't destroy the pasture. It takes very little land to keep them---You can keep up to 8 on an acre of ground.
They require shearing only once a year, in the spring. At that time they also recieve vaccinations and have their toenails clipped.
3. They offer income potential.
While we are hobby farmers, our goal is to make our land productive and profitable. When I was researching alpacas I discovered that not only is their fiber very valuable when sheared, but their manure is highly sought after by plant lovers.
Like other manures it improves the water holding capacity of soil and adds much needed nutrients. But unlike other manures, Alpaca poo doesn't neeed to be composted before use. This means it won’t burn plants. It is also less likely to contain strains of harmful bacteria, like E-coli, found in other manures. This makes it perfect for vegetables, house plants and medicinal plants.
We have been collecting, drying and pulverizing the alpaca manure here on the farm and are now offering 1 pound bags for sale. This is a wonderful soil condtioner to add to potted plants. It's also great when starting seedlings. Or you can add it to your vegetable plants, or flower beds.
We also offer Alpaca Tea Bags.
These are cute little biodegradable burlap bags filled with dried "paca poo." You fill a 1 gallon container with warm water and place the tea bag in it. Let it sit in the sun and "steep" for 6-8 hours until it turns a rich carmel color. Then pour over your plants.
Each bag will make 2-3 gallons of liquid nutrients for your plants.
Both of these products can be purchased here.