Some of our regular readers and followers of our Facebook page will be aware that I have, for some time, been going on about the benefits of having Alpacas for my tiny free range chicken farm.
Since my last blog about the benefits of Alpacas, I am pleased to say that Alexander and Sao have arrived and have been settling in very well. They arrived on 5 December and I can see that they are building up their trust in me day by day. They are such a joy to watch and they have already given me and my family some funny moments over the past week.
I have fully set up the field where they will be grazing with the chickens. The chickens were at first kept in a corner of the field confined by electric netting so that they could get used to each other’s existence. After a couple of days, both Alexander and Sao had settled in nicely, and so I let the chickens roam around the field. Alexander paid special interest to one of the chickens – he followed (chased!) her up and down the field which was very funny to watch.
Based on close inspection, Alpacas definitely seem to be intelligent animals. They are highly adaptable and friendly. Even though I have not yet let my two Golden Retrievers into the field, after a few days of interactions across fence lines, both Alexander and Sao have become increasingly relaxed with the dogs in close proximity. I even spotted a couple of occasions where Alexander and Ollie had physical contact, with their noses touching!
Daily care for Alexander and Sao is short and easy. I need to check that their water is not frozen (important at this time of the year), make sure they have enough hay in their basket and then go on to examine their shelter and bedding. The rest of the work is to pick up their droppings every day or every other day. Alpacas have a habit of choosing a designated area as their toilet, which has helped the ‘poop pick up’ task to be completed quicker. An extra bonus is that Alpaca droppings can go straight into flower beds or under fruit trees. I have been collecting the droppings in my compost heap, and have today started distributing some of the droppings around my evergreen hedge.
I have always bought farmyard manure for my vegetable patch. As I now have my own supply, I would like to do a simple experiment on whether homemade compost is as good as that bought from a store. I am planning to ‘dig’ some of their droppings into one of my vegetable beds after the new year and let it rest until spring time. I will leave the rest of my beds in the same way I usually do, and compare the results.
Stay tuned for my next post after the new year on how to utilise the Alpaca’s droppings.
In the meantime, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!