Good Shepherd Farm Alpacas is owned by Chris & Rebecca Arnold. Copyright 2005-2008. All rights reserved. Website powered by Yahoo!

gallon Rubbermaid tub which is low enough for the babies to use. There are also grates of varying sizes which you can purchase to help
gallon Rubbermaid tub which is low enough for the babies to use. There are also grates of varying sizes which you can purchase to help
keep the hay from being pulled out of the tubs.
keep the hay from being pulled out of the tubs.

boys still have heated buckets, which work well, but we plan on upgrading them also. If you are constructing a new barn, give serious

then remove them. Now, that is a luxurious accomodation!
then remove them. Now, that is a luxurious accomodation!

Alpacas and llamas have simple yet special dietary needs. They require less food per day than other livestock (adults average 2 ½ /-3 1/2
lbs. day of forage) and lower quality forage than others. Alfalfa hay, for example often has a protein level of 25% or more which can cause
bloating in lamas (lamas refers to alpacas and llamas). Good second cut, fine stemmed mixes of orchard grass and with a small amount of
clover or alfalfa (no more than 35%) are healthy and palatable to the lama. Depending upon the source, second cuttings may be too high
in protein and calories so first may be preferable. Hay should always be clean smelling (not sour) with no signs of mold and stored in a dry
dark place away from moisture sources. Hay should always be tested for overall nutrition from the center of the bale. Unfortunately, there
are both honest and dishonest hay dealers. You’ll save the most money if you purchase hay no later than mid summer; prices can double
by fall. Depending upon your region and pasture growing season, you may want to contract for up to 6 months of hay at a time. If space is
limited, most dealers will schedule multiple deliveries for a nominal additional fee. If you’re just starting out and there are other alpaca or
llama breeders in your immediate area, you can pool your orders to save on the per bale cost.

Most lama breeders supplement pasture and hay with grain and minerals.Pellets are popular and several large manufactures such as Pro
Forma as well as regional suppliers now offer lama designed formulations such as Lama Tex. Pellets, however, can cause choking,
indigestion and in some cases allergic reactions due to the binder used. Incidents of choking can be reduced and even eliminated by
making sure pellets are really well spread around so that the lama is forced to take only small amounts at a time.Ideally, simple grains
mixed specifically for lamas and for their age, condition and jobs in life are best. Every lama does not need to be fed grain every day but
this means more separation of your herd in terms of space. The following are some basic recommendations which should be adjusted for
your region and environmental conditions (winter vs. summer, heat stress etc.):

Geldings and studs should receive pasture/hay and a cracked corn and/or crimped oats supplement depending upon body. If geldings
begin to show fat accumulation, which is common, reduce or eliminate grain. Studs actively breeding (particularly during high heat/humidity
conditions which is not recommended) may require additional grain rations.

Nursing and pregnant females need free choice pasture/hay and supplemental grain. A mixture of cracked corn, crimped oats and
soybean meal is a good higher protein mix for their greater nutritional needs. COB (corn, oats and barley) is popular as is believed to
promote a good supply of milk. Second cutting hay is worth the additional expense for this group.

Weanlings are actively growing and need a protein/calorie level between that of males and pregnant/lactating females.

The amount of grain fed to each group should be based upon regular body condition checks (ask your vet or breeder you purchase from
how to do this). Vary the protein/calorie level and amount fed according to condition score.

Molasses- often the binder used in pellets and grain mixes is not necessary for proper lama nutrition although they love its taste. It just
adds calories.

Lamas all need some type of mineral supplement. The exact type is based upon what is in your pasture and hay and is determined by your
region. Consult with your vet and other local lama breeders. It may be given free choice (in feed bins always available) or you may have to
mix it with grain supplements as many lamas don’t like the taste. We have found loose salts to be preferred over block salts.

Lamas are not horses, sheep or cattle so premixes for them are not appropriate. Most mixes for other livestock contain too much or too
little of required minerals not to mention improper calorie/protein levels. Some goat mixes come close- you’ll learn to read labels carefully
comparing contents with necessary lama nutritional requirements.

Clean, cool fresh water (lamas don’t like warm water and often won’t drink it) should always be available. It may need to be heated in winter
to prevent freezing (especially if you use small buckets rather than troughs- submersible heaters are available for both). Remember
consumption during high heat/humidity periods will increase; automatic waterers are expensive but should be considered if possible as
another level of insurance.

If one of your alpacas becomes ill or injured and requires the use of antibiotics as treatment, you will need to supplement their feed with a
probiotic. Ruminants rely upon naturally occurring bacteria in their stomachs to aid in proper digestion; antibiotics kill these desirable
bacteria requiring supplementation. Homeopathic treatments like plain cultured yogurt are ok but don’t contain the wide range of live
cultures alpacas require. Probiotic supplements are available at most feed supply stores, vet clinics as well as the mail order suppliers.

When introducing animals to a new environment, they are under stress. To minimize this, it is best to always get several days worth of hay
and grain/mineral mix (and water too if possible) to feed them after transport. You can slowly add in your own mix to make an easier
transition. Loose, runny stools are not uncommon after transport but should not persist for more than several days. If you already have
animals, new additions should be quarantined for at least a week to watch for signs of disease or other communicable conditions. Refer to
your veterinarian for area specific problems.

For an industry dependent upon sound reproduction, we know little about proper nutrition especially for pregnant females. Until they were
first imported into North America and Australia in the mid-80’s for commercial breeding purposes, very little research had been done on
their nutritional requirements. What little had been done in Peru was lost in the 70’s when Shining Path terrorists destroyed the Alpaca
Research Station and its records. Thus, the lama breeder is faced with trying to cull information from many sources (books, vets, other
breeders, and the internet) and their own observations of their herd to develop a comprehensive nutrition program. The most important
factors are always basic lama nutritional guidelines augmented by individual body condition scoring and behavioral observation. A properly
fed lama is a happy lama. Overweight lamas do not lose weight easily while underweight animals often show loss of appetite requiring
separation and special dietary adjustments and feeding techniques.

This is by no means a comprehensive discussion of the nutritional requirements of camelids: simply a primer to get you started. Again,
veterinarians, industry acknowledged experts, other breeders are among the many sources that should be consulted.
it light and airy so we added a large window on each wall with hinged covers that we close and latch in the winter. We built a 16' feeder along
wall about 20'.
the back wall to keep the hay dry and off the floor. The feeder was 2' off the ground, had a ¼ wire mesh bottom and extended out from the
The feeder worked great until we started to grow! I then realized that we had some top feeders and some bottom feeders. Most of the
animals would stand at the feeder while they ate. However, some would cush down sticking their heads under the feeder above to eat. The
end result was a topknot that was packed with very fine hay droppings and whatever else fell in there. It happened so fast that they were
packed before we realized we had a problem. The topknots are a nightmare to untangle and I would highly recommend against this type of
feeder. We removed ours shortly thereafter and now use outside feeders, which I am still experimenting with.
The unexpected bonus from our window design is for the expectant moms. When our girls are in their last trimester and really don't feel like
they can go down that hill to graze, they spend a good part of their day staring out at the herd while staying nice and cool in the barn. They
don't seem to feel the separation and are satisfied until the herd returns.
Geri and Frank Gabriel
Lakeside Alpaca Farm
the feed.  Many feeds are mixed on a least cost formula basis which means that they use the cheapest ingredients to come up with the the
feed.  Many feeds are mixed on a least cost formula basis which means that they use the cheapest ingredients to come up with the right
nutritional content.  

right nutritional content.  

prevent disease in animals such as chickens or pigs.   This feed is pelleted and the use of this feed has reduced the incidence of choke
prevent disease in animals such as chickens or pigs.   This feed is pelleted and the use of this feed has reduced the incidence of choke
on our farm to a rarity, when we used to experience it all of the time using other feed.   Choke is a condition where food actually blocks the
esophagus.  It has been associated with pelleted feed, crumbled feed, and feed that is made with fillers in it.  Our personal experience is
what drives us to use the pelleted and nutritious feed from Custom Milling.
what drives us to use the pelleted and nutritious feed from Custom Milling.

As a service to breeders in our area, and to reduce our cost for shipping, we serve as a pick up location for this feed and many alpaca
breeders in our area come to our farm and purchase the feed at our cost.  If you are interested in trying the Custom Milling Alpaca feed,
you can give us a call.  We do not ship and work on an honor system billing you for whatever you take.  We also have the Custom Milling
minerals on hand which the alpacas certainly relish.  The current price for the feed is $13.75 per 50lb. bag and $45.00 for a 40lb. bag of
the minerals.

We feed this ration once a day, however, some will feed twice a day, morning and evening.  We provide more to our ladies that are in late
pregnancy or are nursing and less to the boys.  Special attention is given to the weanlings as well, to make sure that they are getting
adequate amounts of food in light of the recent loss of milk in their diet.  Some will provide the weanlings with a creep feeder.  This is an
area only accessible to the young alpacas so that they do not have to compete with the larger alpacas to get their food.  It is usually a
small corralled area with a narrower and shorter gateway to keep out their older friends.  

Alpacas are similar to the true ruminants cattle, goats, and sheep.  Their stomach has 3 compartments, and they chew a cud.  This
digestive design makes them fairly efficient at food utilization.  In other words, they are "easy keepers" and can easily be over fed and
become pudgy.  Diet should primarily consist of forage either in the form of pasture or hay.  Except in times of stress such as late
pregnancy, illness, or extreme cold, the hay is usually comprised of grasses with very little in the way of legumes (alfalfa or clover).  They
do not require the higher proteins that the legumes provide and will become overweight if fed too much of them.  There is some concern
that feeding alpacas and llamas too much in the way of grains and concentrated feeds may lead to problems such as obesity, liver
disease, and gastrointestinal obstruction.

Caution must be used in the case of pelleted  and ground up pelleted feeds.  While these are excellent for providing alpacas with a
specific measure of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, their ability to expand in size when combined with water can lead animals to choke.  
"Choke" in alpacas refers to clogging of the esophagus or the tube leading to the stomach, not blockage of the wind pipe (trachea).  It is a
medical emergency though, and sometimes requires veterinary intervention to relieve it.  Sometimes the alpaca can dislodge the food, or
the breeder can massage the esophagus externally to move the blockage on.  If not relieved, the alpaca will be unable to swallow their
food and the saliva that they secrete in copious amounts.  This can quickly lead to aspiration and pneumonia.  Choke is easily identified
by the repetitive regurgitation of saliva with some food particles mixed in.  Sometimes the alpaca can fix the problem themselves, but if it is
not relieved in a few minutes by the alpaca or the manager intervening, a veterinarian needs to be called.  

In our area, orchard grass is the preferred grass for both hay and pasture.  The alpacas find it very palatable, and it is readily available.  
Different areas of the country have better luck growing different grasses, though.  It is always best to consult with experienced breeders in
your area, as well as with extension agents about forage material that might be best suited to where you live.  Even within a county, soil
conditions can differ enough to warrant the use of different grasses, so take advantage of your extension office by consulting them.  

There are two grasses that should be avoided.  The first of these is rye, which when eaten, may cause a disorder known as rye grass
staggers, where the alpaca appears to be drunk or wobbly.  This usually occurs  during growth spurts of the grass such as in spring or fall
after dormancy has been relieved with rain.  It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the alpaca after ingesting too much of the rye.  
Denying access to the rye will provide cure.  

The second grass is tall fescue, which can be responsible for fescue toxicosis.  A fungus growing symbiotically with this grass, is toxic to
cows, alpacas and llamas.  It can cause abortions, poor milk production, and other problems.  Unfortunately fescue is a very hardy grass
that has been used extensively in the United States for pastures.  The following web site has a great deal of info on fescue toxicosis and
includes information on where you can get your fescue tested for endophyte presence.  

The other variable is in the hay itself.  Each growing season will affect the quality of hay, as will the fertility of the soil it is growing on, and
the timing of the cutting.  Many breeders actually have their hay tested for nutritional content, because protein, fiber, and other nutrients
can vary tremendously.  We have found it very helpful to establish ourselves with an experienced hay farmer who is very conscientious
about the hay they sell.  This type of farmer  often will have analysis of the hay they are selling for you to inspect, and they may have
several different types and cuttings which provide different nutritional options.

You will find as you read more information elsewhere, that sources will rarely offer information about the number of alpacas you can have
on a per acre basis.  This is simply due to all of the variables involved.  Generally you may keep 6 to 10 alpacas per acre, but the quality
of your pasture will influence how much extra hay you may have to provide, if any.  The greater the crowding, the higher your concern
about parasites, over grazing, and destruction of the pasture.

Mineral supplementation is also important.  Most livestock require minerals, usually administered in the form of salt or mineral blocks or
granules, and offered free choice.  Again, different  areas of the country lack different minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc to
name a few.  It is important to speak with a veterinarian or alpaca breeder in your area to determine what you may require for your
animals.  In our area, there is a mineral mixture available to make up for what our area naturally lacks.  The following minerals are the most
commonly deficient in alpacas: Calcium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Iron, and Phosphorus.  Care must be taken not to give too much of these
for excesses can be harmful as well.  Again, speak with a local veterinarian or breeder about what may be necessary in your area.
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