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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alpaca Tidbits & Fun Facts

Ø      Alpacas are 100-190 lbs as adults, 12-20 lbs when born

Ø      Gestation is 11 ½ months, usually giving birth between 10 AM – 2 PM

Ø      Alpacas are from South America, first imported into the U.S. in 1982

Ø      There are six camelids - Old World camelids are the dromedary (one-humped camel) and the Bactrian (two-humped camel). New World camelids are the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna.

Ø      Alpacas come from South America where they live in the dry high country called the Alti Plano at elevations up to 14,000 feet.

Ø      Incan Indians crossed a guanaco and a vicuno 6,000 years ago to create the alpaca.  It is the second newest man-made mammal on earth.  The newest?  The mule.

Ø      The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.

Ø      Alpacas have a three-chambered stomach; combined with chewing cud, this allows maximum extraction of nutrients from low-quality forages.  Food can stay in the first stomach up to 60 hours and ferment.

Ø      Alpacas will chew their food in a figure eight motion.

Ø      Alpacas and llamas can successfully cross-breed. The resulting offspring are called huarizo.

Ø      Alpacas are often tested for pregnancy using the "spit test".  If a female is brought near a male after being bred and she sits down, she is not pregnant.  If she spits at him, she is pregnant. She usually knows within 4 days of being bred.

Ø      Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. "Spit" is somewhat euphemistic; occasionally the projectile contains only air and a little saliva, although alpacas commonly bring up acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and project it onto their chosen targets. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will occasionally spit at a human.

Ø      For alpacas, spitting results in what is called "sour mouth". Sour mouth is characterized by a loose-hanging lower lip and a gaping mouth. This is caused by the stomach acids and unpleasant taste of the contents as they pass out of the mouth.

Ø      Alpacas use a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. This behavior tends to limit the spread of internal parasites.  Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females, which tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and begins to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd often follows. Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.

Ø      Alpacas make a variety of sounds. When they are in danger, they make a high-pitched, shrieking whine. Some breeds are known to make a "wark" noise when excited. Strange dogs—and even cats—can trigger this reaction. To signal friendly or submissive behavior, alpacas "cluck," or "click" a sound possibly generated by suction on the soft palate, or possibly in the nasal cavity.

Ø      Females are "induced ovulators"; the act of mating and the presence of semen cause them to ovulate. Females usually conceive after just one breeding, but occasionally do need to be bred more than once.  No one has been successful in artificial insemination of an alpaca.

Ø      After a female gives birth, she is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks.

Ø      The most expensive female alpaca sold for $180,000 and the most expensive male for $675,000.

Ø      Alpacas are fiber-producing animals; they do not need to be slaughtered to reap their product, and their fiber is a renewable resource that grows yearly to be made into clothing.  Alpacas are used for their fleece, which is as soft as cashmere, warmer than wool, hypo-allergenic, almost completely waterproof.

We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Alpaca Protection & Guardians - Llamas, dogs and donkeys

Predator Protection

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) doesn’t track the number of alpacas and llamas that die each year, it does keep track of how many U.S. sheep and goats die and the causes of death.  The agency periodically publishes findings in a report titled Sheep and Goats Death Loss.  According to the May 6, 2005, edition, predators killed 155,000 goats during 2004, accounting for slightly more than 37% of all goats that died in the U.S. that year.  Sheep figures are just as astounding: predators killed 225,000 sheep during 2004 (also totaling 37% of total losses).  Small ruminants (sheep and goats combined) were killed mainly by coyotes (60%), dogs, mountain lions, bears, foxes, eagles, bobcats, and other species – such as wolves, ravens and black vultures.  Keeping in mind that alpacas, adults and crias alike, are the same size or smaller than most goats and sheep, you’ll agree that predation is a potentially serious problem, even in relatively populated areas, where free-roaming dog predation poses a major risk.

To protect your herd, you should:
  • Install predator-proof fences.
  • Pen llamas and alpacas (Particularly females with crias) inside very secure fencing, close to your house at night and whenever no one is home.
  • Add guardian animals to your herd dynamics.
  • Preferably, do all three.

Llamas as Guardians

In certain situations, llamas themselves make outstanding herd guardians, but only in low risk locales.  A llama (or even several llamas) can’t effectively repel aggressive packs of dogs or coyotes, much less the big predators, such as mountain lions and bears.  In high-risk situations, guardian llamas are often maimed or killed while attempting to protect their charges.  We have two llamas in with our female and weanling herds.

Donkeys as Guardians

Some farmers prefer donkey guardians.  Donkeys require no specialized training.  And, as they instinctually dislike the canine clan, most will attack dogs and coyotes tooth and hoof.  Since donkeys have keen hearing and good eyesight, dogs and coyotes rarely sneak past a donkey standing guard.

Guardian donkeys must be standard “burro” size or larger; miniature donkeys require guardians of their own.  Jennies (females) work best.  Geldings work well, too, but never keep a jack (intact male) with your llamas or alpacas, as they can be aggressive toward herd mates they dislike and have been known to kill newborn crias.  And not all donkeys are interested in bonding with another species, especially when other equines are within sight and smell.
That said, in one survey (reported in the Colorado State University publication Livestock Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys), 59% of Texas producers who use guardian donkeys rated them good or fair for deterring coyote predation and other 20% excellent or good; and 9% of the sheep and goat producers polled for the 2004 National Agriculture Statistics Serve survey successfully keep guardian donkeys, too.

Dogs as Guardians
For many thousands of years, European, Middle Eastern and Asian guard dogs of dozens of types and breeds have protected herds of goats and flocks of sheep from predation by wolves, bears, jackals, and human thieves.  Eventually, some of those breeds were brought to North America. 

According to Agriculture Statistics Service figures, nearly 32% of American sheep and goat producers use livestock guardian dogs. Because they’ve been bred to be guardians for thousands of years, when bonded with a herd from puppyhood on, livestock guardian dogs require little or no specialized training.  Once bonded with animals to be protected, a guardian dog willingly stays with them and fearlessly protects them twenty-four hours a day.  Several major livestock guardian breeds, especially Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds, are readily available throughout North America at reasonable prices.  We have had 4 Anatolians over the years, shipping them across country as puppies to protect our herd.  We cannot say enough good things about Anatolians (also called Kangals or Akbash).

There is one major drawback: livestock guardians tend to catnap throughout the day and bark throughout much of the night, because that’s when predators are most active.  This effectively warns most predators away but sometimes causes problems with light sleepers and unsympathetic nearby neighbors.  Over 15 years, we have not had a problem with our neighbors, but be sure to keep an open relationship so that they let you know if there is a problem ahead of time.

In addition, one dog can’t effectively protect livestock from attacks by large packs of dogs or coyotes nor from predators such as mountain lions.  Because we live in a mountainous area, we opted to utilize Turkish Anatolians, as they are one of the only breeds that can athletically fight a mountain lion.  Our female, Cookie, has taken on 4 over the years.  A pair of Anatolians can take on 1,000 acres effectively.  Where heavy-duty predators are the norm, a pair or trio of dogs works best – one to herd your alpacas to safety while the others deal with the invaders themselves.

A word to prospective purchasers:  DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  Read. Visit other farms.  Buy from responsible livestock guardian dog breeders.  Show dogs have been selected for beauty and gait, not guardian ability.  Stick with proven adults or puppies from working farms.


We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Alpaca Medicines & Dewormers



Here is a general guide for alpaca medications and dewormers.  We are not vets, so be sure to consult your veterinarian for their recommendations:


De-worming medications:Active IngredientStrengthDespenseDosageDurationTreats

Albon SuspensionSulfadimethoxine12.5% (125 mg / mL)Oral DrenchDay 1: 25 mg / lb.   Days 2-5: 12.5 mg / lb.5 days (For extreme cases, do another 5 days after a 5 day break)Coccidia
BaycoxToltrazuril50 mg / mLOral20 mg/kg1 DayCoccidia,  E. Mac (Eimeria Macusaniensis)
CoridAmprolium96 mg / mLOral10 mg / 2.2 lbs.5 DaysCoccidia
Cydectin Oral Sheep DrenchMoxidectin.1% (1 mg / mL)             or (5 mg / mL)Oral Drench1 mL / 11 lbs.                    (1 mL / 22lbs.)1 DayStrongyles (including Haemoncus)
DectomaxDoramectin10 mg / mLSQ (Subcutaneous)1 cc / 70 lbs.3-5 Days  (Prevention - monthly)Strongyles (including Haemoncus)
DroncitPraziquantel50 mg/tabletOral1.5 mg / lb.1 Day               Tapeworm (Whipworm and Nematodirus give 3 days.) (Tapeworm repeat in 10 days.)
Equimax PasteIvermectin and Praziquantel1.87% and 14.03%OralDial 2 times the body weight1 DayStrongyles, Tapeworms
IvomecIvermectin1%SQ (Subcutaneous)1 cc / 70 lbs.Monthly / Quarterly/ Annually Meningeal protection
LevamisoleLevamisole Hydrochloride13.65% (136.5 mg/mL)Oral2 mL / 100 lbs.1 DayStrongyles
MarquisPonazuril150 mg / gOral20 mg/kg3 DaysE. Mac (Eimeria Macusaniensis)
PanacureFenbendazole100 mg / gOral20 mg / kg                       or 40 mg / kg1 Day (Strongyles)                   or 3-5 daysStrongyles (Nematodirus & Tapeworm - 2 x BW [20 mg/kg]. Whipworm-  4 x BW [40mg/kg].) (Whipworm and Nematodirus give 3-5 consecutive days.) 
Paravac(Herbs)Top Dress on Grain2 mL / 100 lbs.14 DaysCoccidia,  E. Mac (Eimeria Macusaniensis)
Quest Plus Gel Moxidectin / Praziquantel20 mg / mL                and 125 mg / mLOralDial body weight to nearest 50 lbs.1 DayStrongyles, Tapeworms
Safe-Guard Paste              (Not very effective in the SE)Fenbendazole10% (100 mg / g)Oral20 mg / kg                       or 40 mg / kg1 Day (Strongyles)                   or 3-5 daysStrongyles (Nematodirus & Tapeworm - 2 x BW [20 mg/kg]. Whipworm-  4 x BW [40mg/kg].) (Whipworm and Nematodirus give 3-5 consecutive days.) 
Safe-Guard SuspensionFenbendazole10% (100 mg /mL)Oral10 mL / 110 lbs.3- 5 DaysStrongyles
SMZ/TMP         (Sulfa Trim)Sulfamethoxazole / Trimethoprim 960 mg / tabletOral, BID1 Tablet / 50 lbs.Twice a Day for 5 DaysCoccidia (More gentle on the Cria/Juvi gut)
SMZ/TMP Suspension         (Sulfa Trim)Sulfamethoxazole / Trimethoprim 240 mg / mLOral, BID1 cc / 5 lbs.Twice a Day for 5 DaysCoccidia (super for crias)
SynanthicOxfendazole22% (220 mg/mL)         ( 9.06% 90.6 mg/mL)Oral4 mL / 100 lbs.          (8.5 mL / 100 lbs.)1-3 DaysLungworms,  Barberpole worms, Hookworms, Tapeworms (Including Haemoncus and Strongyles)
ValbazenAlbendazole113.6 mg/mLOral6 mL / 100 lbs.1-3 DaysStrongyles, Tapeworms (Whipworms and Nematodirus give 3 days.)