The wonder of woolies! Could an alpaca be a cuddle companion for your horsey? Why not choose a more unusual companion for your horse – Llamas and alpacas are ideal and have huge benefits too!
llamas and alpacas are fast becoming the most popular companions for horses and there are many benefits to owning them. They not only mix well with horses but they keep the weeds down, help reduce the worm burden and they are relatively cheap to keep.
Llamas and alpacas can be fun pets and when introduced to horses gradually, can be great companions for them, too. I keep two alpacas (Harry and Billy) with my 14.2hh pony and the benefits are huge,” says Matchy Horsey customer Paula Watkins.
“Alpacas have three stomachs and aren’t generally affected by horse parasites so they keep the worm burden down. Their poo makes great fertiliser, too. Most of the time, the pony and the alpacas tend to ignore each other, but now and then the pony chases them. Alpacas can make great guard animals, and mine have been know to chase of a friend’s Border Terrier at times, too!”
“My alpacas don’t challenge fences like goats or sheep can, although electric fencing isn’t really suitable because they don’t feel the shock through their well-insulated fleece”.
If you are thinking of buying two or three of these wonderful creatures, then you’ll need to know that they vary in price, from a few hundred to several thousand pounds, with gelded males being cheaper than entire males and females.Avoid mixing entire males with females unless you want children, and males can live happily together as long as they are castrated.
You will need…
- At least an acre for two alpacas or llamas. Alpacas and llamas are herd animals and you should always keep at least two together – even if you’re keeping them with horses.
- A field shelter or barn where they can shelter from the weather.
- Hay in winter, and llama mix which is available from most big feed merchants around the UK.
Alpacas vs Llamas – What’s the difference?
Llamas were primarily bred to be a beast of burden, whereas alpacas were bred primarily as fibre-producers. An average alpacas will measure between 34in to 36in at the withers and llamas are taller, measuring 42in to 48in.
Llamas & Alpacas – The Facts
- Llamas and alpacas need shearing once a year – around June – by a professional shearer. This costs around £15 to £20 and hand spinners will pay about £30 for a good, clean fleece.
- They are fairly cheap animals to keep and don’t eat a great deal.
- They’re fairly resistant to most diseases found in European livestock, including foot-and-mouth.
- Avoid mixing them with aggressive horses as they could be attacked.
- Their fleece is a luxury fibre that is mainly used for knitting and weaving. Duvets and pet beds can be made with lower quality fibre from their necks and legs.
- For details visit the British Alpaca Society or the British Llama Society.