Alpaca Farming in Arizona!

Arizona is a great state to raise alpacas in!

Geographically, Arizona is very diverse.  We have mountains and snow, as well as hot deserts.  There is no one 'way' to farm alpacas in Arizona.  Most of the management of raising alpacas will depend on the climate you are raising them.  There are a few basic needs that should be met, regardless of where you raise alpacas.  Alpacas Require:

  • Approximately 2% of their body weight in good quality grass hay (Orchard, Timothy etc.)
  • Quality free-choice vitamin/mineral blend (like Stillwater 104)
  • Accessible and clean safe water to drink
  • Shelter from harsh weather (heavy rain, hail, snow etc.)
  • Safety from predators
  • Additional nutrition during late gestation, lactation etc.
  • Shearing annually (unless age and living in cold climate allows for skipping a year)

 

Being a dry, arid environment, Arizona offers greater ease in many management issues as we do not have meningeal worm threat and many of the parasites that other climates combat.  However, we can deal with heat stress in the hot summer days, and we have a unique pathogen present in low-elevation soils called coccidiomycosis ('Valley Fever').  Camelids CAN thrive in all Arizona climates with good care and nutrition.  The owners duty is to be aware of the unique challenges in their own geographic location and climate in order to care for their herd accordingly. 

Alpacas can live with other livestock, but it is best for them to just be with other alpacas. They should not be alone.  Keeping them with other species is much like keeping cats and dogs and rabbits together.... you would feed them differently, correct?  They may not get along, correct?  The same concept applies to alpacas, goats, sheep and horses.  Alpacas and other livestock may appear to just be all 'livestock' but they have different nutritional needs.  Alpacas are a 'modified ruminant' and need good quality grass hay with the proper protein levels to thrive.  Keeping a healthy functioning rumen is necessary.  They should not routinely have corn, sweet feed or  'COB' type products, which is very different from other livestock.  This is why keeping them together with other livestock can be 'tricky'.  Stress, injuries, competition for food and even shared parasites are also aspects to consider when it comes to keeping alpacas with other livestock. 

Healthcare of your alpaca is generally quite simple.  Alpacas should be shorn every year, at which time your shearer or you should trim toenails and assess teeth.  Alpacas lower incisors sometimes need to be trimmed.  Additionally, 'fighting' teeth erupt in the back in adulthood.  These should be filed down to avoid injuries or lacerations if alpacas in a herd fight.  A good relationship with a shearer, and large animal (alpaca) veterinarian will be an important part of your planning. Please see our 'resources' page for links to articles with more information.

The best way to learn about alpacas is from breeders that are in your area and throughout the state.  Please feel free to contact our ABA Members and ask questions!  We love to talk Alpaca!