Alpacas have adapted very well to life in Northern Ireland and are generally hardy, healthy animals that are relatively easy to keep. However, it is important to be aware of acceptable ways of keeping this class of animal, including basic knowledge of their nutrition, exercise needs, breeding regimes, normal and abnormal behaviours etc.
Alpacas are sociable, herd animals, therefore a single alpaca cannot be kept on its own. Many people start by keeping a small group of gelded males (wethers) or a small group of females.
As semi-ruminants, alpacas eat grass throughout the year. They are browsers rather than grazers, so you can keep 3-5 alpacas per acre, depending on conditions. Their diet is supplemented with hay and other feeds, particularly in winter.
Alpacas are hardy, healthy animals and live outside year round. However, they need a shelter for protection from the rain and (occasionally in our climate) the sun. They need annual vaccinations and regular worming.
Alpacas need shearing once a year, although suris are sometimes sheared every other year. On average, a fleece will weigh between 2.5 kg but some alpacas have the potential to produce up to 5kg. It is also necessary to regularly trim toenails and teeth, depending on growth.
For more information consult the British Alpaca Society website.