Alpacas really will need daily attention so please don’t consider an off-premises paddock that discourages you seeing them. That’s probably your most important item in your list of pasture considerations. Your forage/pasture quality will greatly affect how many Alpacas you can run. Since they are relatively easy on the land and nibble in their grazing, they are an ideal option for smaller or suburban ranches/farms. They have bottom teeth and a strong upper dental pad so they don’t denude your pastures as quickly as would a horse.
A well fertilized pasture will result in better grazing and less hay consumption—which saves you money. The trick is to time your pasture fertilized at the right time and with the right amount of rainfall. You should keep your herd off of the fields until the fertilizer is no longer visible plus a few days.
Here are some other pasture considerations:
Inspect your pastures for perennial ryegrass and remove it as it causes ryegrass staggers. Annual ryegrass that is endophyte free is an acceptable fall planting. Keep an eye out for the staggers in your herd when you let them graze it as every bag of annual seed can contain seeds that share the endophytes found in perennial rye grass.
Broadcasting annual ryegrass seed is OK, and you should do so earlier than you think, about September 1st in North Texas. Keep the Alpacas off the seeded fields.
Fescue PASTURE causes problems, but not fescue HAY. The endophytes that cause trouble live at the very bottom of the stem close to the ground. When hay is harvested the bottom inch or two is left behind, so the endophytes do not make it into the hay.
Don’t worry about broadleaf weeds as they are generally not harmful. In fact, they will eat them like a salad. (Except Annual ryegrass. Remove it.) They tend to ignore weeds that aren’t tasty anyway. But if you have an overabundance of burrs and/or stickers, get your shovel out!
If you research the subject, you will find articles that list dozens of plants and nuts that are poisonous to Alpacas. We have removed some, but most will not be an issue if your Alpacas are fed properly.
Mowing and catching the clippings is a much better way of controlling things like stickers or sand burrs. We have used a Cyclone rake when we had some issues early on.
Think twice or even three times about using chemicals as Alpaca feet are porous and can ingest them unintentionally. Never ever use weed killers with MSNA or 2,4-D regardless of what the feed store salesperson says. That includes Pasture Pro. Alpacas can absorb toxins through their padded toes.
FENCING FOR ALPACAS https://www.plumcreekalpacas.com/page/10274/fencing-for-alpacas
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Thursday, January 11, 2024