Cost of keeping alpacas
Alpacas are not expensive animals to keep. They can graze relatively poor pasture and live out all year round in the UK – though some form of shelter should be provided. They must of course always have access to fresh water and, particularly during the winter months, they should have free access to hay or haylage.
Costs associated with providing and maintaining the pasture, including fencing and shelter, will of course vary for each situation. We will be happy to advise.
The following reflects our own experience and practices, developed over several years with the herd grazing mostly on fairly lush Somerset pastures. Other breeders and owners may of course differ. See our husbandry page for more information on the way we do things.
Feed costs (excluding forage)
- Forage (hay or haylage) : this is extremely variable, depending for example on time of year, quality and quantity of grass available and the cost of the forage. From our own experience, I can estimate that haylage consumed would certainly not cost as much as 50p/animal/week during the winter, dropping to virtually nothing in the summer.
- Micronised peas and Camelibra : approximately £1 per week per adult breeding/nursing/working or growing alpaca. About half that for a wether or non-breeding adult.
As can be seen on our husbandry page, there are a few regular treatments which we give to our alpacas. Our own records show that these medications (Lambivac, Vitamins and Vitesel) cost a total of less than £10 per animal per year.
We administer these ourselves, by sub-cutaneous injection, and we will be happy to show purchasers how to do that for themselves. If you choose to call out a vet to administer these, then there will of course be additional call-out charges.
The wormers which we use cost less than £2 per animal per year.
The costs of shearing depend on the number of animals to be shorn, as the shearer’s travelling costs have to be accounted for. For a small group, it is likely to be about £12-£15 per animal, plus any additional services such as toenail trimming, teeth trimming and/or injections.
There is of course value in the shorn fleece, as long as it has been carefully shorn (no second cuts), and sorted/skirted to remove vegetation, etc.. That value can vary between a few pounds and £30 or more, depending on weight, staple length, colour, colour consistency, etc..
Males can be castrated from about one year of age. Our vets do this very simply and without fuss or drama, using only local anaesthetic; it must by law only be done by a qualified vet. Expect a charge of about £20 per animal plus the call-out charge.