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 6. Farm Facilities & Equipment
 pasture/grazing tecniques
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smurphync

4 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2014 :  9:56:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi all! We are just getting started with our farm and don't have any animals yet. We hope to have some breedings eventually but plan to start small and slowly. So I have a million questions but luckily I have found a really nice lady name Catherine who has an alpaca farm a few hours away from here and she has been more than willing to answer my questions. She actually told me about this website.
We have picked the site for the barn which is up on top of a hill. We will fence in around 3 acres of pasture. I plan to have 3-4 animals to get my feet wet and grow to maybe 12-15 eventually. My main question is do I really need to split up the pasture and rotate with only 4 animals to start? I know eventually I will have to create separate areas for males and females but if I have only females to start with will that be necessary? I have read that you can have 10-12 on one acre so I can't imagine 4 of them being too hard on 3 acres. I really don't want to end up with a mud field and would like to keep grass all the time. Will 12-15 alpacas turn the pasture into a dry lot in a few months? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. I will try to answer any other questions that may help you in giving me an answer.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Best Regards,
Sam Murphy
Granite Falls NC
Smurphymarlin@yahoo.com


Sam Murphy

Judith

4103 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  07:51:39 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I would say the answer is yes, and no. If you plan to fence the whole perimeter to start with, so you have 3 full acres to work with, your alpacas will certainly have adequate pasture to graze. In fact, the'll have so much pasture that you'll spend most of the summer mowing to keep the grass from getting out of hand. First, they will graze selectively, and the areas they don't get to will soon develop weeds that will spread throughout the pasture. Second, grass stops growing once it matures and goes to seed, so if you want grazable grass throughout the season, you will need to keep it mowed to keep it growing and edible (and to keep grass seeds from getting spread into the alpacas' fleeces which will make them hard to process).

I would suggest that you fence just an acre to start off, and add pasture as your herd grows. Smaller areas are best. Another particularity of alpacas is that they love to graze the edges and tend to leave the center for pooping. With long, narrow pastures, they're forced to make better use of the areas, so sort of keep that in mind as you're planning your final pasture structure.

Make sure that your pasture layout is adequate so that you can rearrange access from different areas of the barn, so that when you have multiple small herds (males, weanlings, females, etc.), each group has its own access to its own designated area. Otherwise you're constantly having to make sure one group or the other is held in (or out) as the other group comes or goes. One farm that I thought had a great system used a small catchpen that circled the barn and the pastures ran off the catchpen like spokes on a wheel. The catchpen was divided into segments, each with a door into the barn, so that the groups were completely separated coming and going, and he was able to rotate pastures very easily. Of course, this means making sure that you locate your barn in the middle of your pastures, which may mean a longer trip to the barn from the house in bad weather, but really facilitates pasture design.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
The Pastel Paca at LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
www.alpacanation.com/ladysong.asp
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Jane Ferris

67 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  09:55:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Sam,

You are on the right track with Catherine and this web-page. We never could have enought Mentors!

We set up our farm May 2013. With many design drawings,at the present I wish we had more gates. With your final design do a visual walk thru, barn to pasture, pasture to pasture. Talk to any Alpaca owner you never can have enough gates. Suggestion: We have 10 foot wide gates,instead of 6 or 8s. WHY?? For those just in cases, moving in a wide trailer for hay, Bob-Cat with stones ect. Our outer pastures are 5 foot heigh no climb,(to keep critters away.) Inner pastures are tensile to allow movement of our Guard dogs from pasture to pasture. Also if we need to increase or decrease a pasture space the tensil can be for the most part easily moved. We have 3 groups - Sires, Junior Sires, Girls. Our male groups each have 2 different pastures. Our girls have three different pastures. This allows for the weaned Cria to have their own pasture so they are not only seperated from mom, they are not picking on the newbies. In the summer for the first time on pasture, for the first week, only allow them to graze for the first day for an hour. Increase 15 minutes per day. This will allow their system to digest from winter to spring feeding. Do not be alarmed if their beans are the rainbow of different colors and may be a plops. Also check with your local feed supply store, they can recommend a Orchard grass seed, also over seed the pastures, and pray for rain. We have 10 acres, at the present 4 are pastured, our Alpacas have plenty room and their is room for growth. We are using the addition acres for growing our own hay. Something you may want to consider. This allows us to monitor growth and harvest.Also at the local feed store, you can locate some-one to cut and bale for you. We know want our Alpacas are consuming. The very best to you!
The Angel and The Albatross Alpaca Farm
447 Township Road 462
Sullivan, OH. 44880
440-554-4672
www.openherd.com



Jane Ferris
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bobvicki

2967 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  10:06:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Unless your planning on using what isn't fenced in for making hay your going to wind up mowing it anyway, so I would fence in the larger area since that would give you more options if and when you decide to divide it up. With the larger area fenced you can always use temporary fencing to make sure your satisfied with how you want it separated.

Additionally make sure you put gates in at every point you think you "might" need access and make at least one gate larger than you think you will need, because unforeseen things happen and a rarely used gate is better than taking part of the fence down.

Bob

Bob & Vicki Blodgett
Suri Land Alpaca Ranch
10371 N 2210 Road
Clinton, Oklahoma 73601
641-831-3576
alpaca@htswireless.com
www.alpacanation.com/suriland.asp
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vintagealpacas

701 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  10:40:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit vintagealpacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I pondered this very thing for MONTHS way back in 2002 before I got my alpacas. My college background helped me come to a final decision, as I recalled all of my "range science" classes at Utah State University, and I finally settled on a wagon-wheel design with the barn being the center. This has served me well. I can easily catch the alpacas on a "pie" shaped pasture that narrows into a "catch pen" then onto the barn. With over 100 alpacas at this time, I highly recommend the wagon-wheel design. Squares don't work well for catching or moving the alpacas... 4 or 100... pie shape is best. Along with this topic... stall skins are also the best product made for covering your barn floors. Don't use rubber mats... way too heavy and smelly mess. Stall Skins are worth every penny, I have had mine for 12 years now... no holes or tears and I use the rake several times EVERYDAY on them. Nothing comes close to Stall Skins.

Kimberly Rassi
Vintage Alpacas
alpacanation.asp/vintage
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smurphync

4 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  7:52:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I really appreciate everyone's replies and advice. Unfortunately the only flat spot and highest spot to set the barn area was in one of the corners of the three acres. This would make the pie design tough due to the barn not being in a central location. My long term plan is to start with the perimeter fence and divide the pasture into thirds with a "lane" that connect all three areas and the barn with a gate at each one. Each pasture will be around 400 feet deep and 60 feet wide. I was planning to add shelters/small barns in each field. We are installing water lines now and I have already set spigots in each eventual section.
As far as mowing goes. I don't mind running the tractor for a while. My son loves it so that isn't a big deal to start out with. I wanted to re seed but with all of the construction going on there I may not get to until later this spring. It would be perfect to do it now because I had a track hoe in the field to rip out about 30 cedar trees and the ground is nicely broken up from the tracks but I don't want to seed it and end up tearing it up again. We don't have the driveway cut in for the house site yet. Should I kill the grass out and totally start over with an orchard mix or just oversees what's there?

Thanks again!
Sam Murphy
Granite Falls NC
Smurphymarlin@yahoo.com

Sam Murphy
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smurphync

4 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2014 :  10:04:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I really appreciate everyone's replies and advice. Unfortunately the only flat spot and highest spot to set the barn area was in one of the corners of the three acres. This would make the pie design tough due to the barn not being in a central location. My long term plan is to start with the perimeter fence and divide the pasture into thirds with a "lane" that connect all three areas and the barn with a gate at each one. Each pasture will be around 400 feet deep and 60 feet wide. I was planning to add shelters/small barns in each field. We are installing water lines now and I have already set spigots in each eventual section.
As far as mowing goes. I don't mind running the tractor for a while. My son loves it so that isn't a big deal to start out with. I wanted to re seed but with all of the construction going on there I may not get to until later this spring. It would be perfect to do it now because I had a track hoe in the field to rip out about 30 cedar trees and the ground is nicely broken up from the tracks but I don't want to seed it and end up tearing it up again. We don't have the driveway cut in for the house site yet. Should I kill the grass out and totally start over with an orchard mix or just oversees what's there?

Thanks again!
Sam Murphy
Granite Falls NC
Smurphymarlin@yahoo.com

Sam Murphy
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Jane Ferris

67 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2014 :  08:59:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Sam,

Regarding water for the Alpacas. We use Frank Fountain, the drinking fountain for Alpacas. They are heated. We placed the boys in the barn against the wall with the pen set, so either group has access. The girls is set outside in the dry lot area against the barn same design both groups have access. The girls has occasional had a thin ice layer,more exposer to the outside elements. So live and learn, we are going to add heat tape, when the ground thaws. The are worth every penny! Frank, the inventor is very helpful if you would need assistance, We dont have to carry water! We did place in both barns a hydrant and sumps.For the just in case. However if they do freeze,, heated buckets purchased from TSC. Kim, I know you LOVE your stall skins. HOWEVER we have stall mats,placed over a concret floor. They add comfort, easy to clean, the winter months we place straw on top for warmth. If there is a mess and it does freeze, a quick scrap with the rake, all clean. ALSO... Our Alpacas are barn potty trained,,the girls,, OOOHHH those girls have on occasion messed in the barn on the very cold days. If you are going to use pea gravel in your dry lot area,let me know, I will send you the name of the company we purchase two shaker shovels from. They work FANTASTIC! For seperating the mess from the stone.

Jane Ferris
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Jane Ferris

67 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2014 :  09:16:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Sam,

Regarding re-seed. Have you hay and soil tested. Holmes Laboratory is a very user friendly web-site. They have a special section for Alpacas. We also had a gentleman from our local Soil and Water Conservation District look at our fields. This service was free!

The Angel and The Albatross Alpaca Farm
447 Township Road 462
Sullivan, OH. 44880

Jane Ferris
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joeykatp

318 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2014 :  2:25:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit joeykatp's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Frank fountains are well worth the effort to dig down and install when you are building the barn. One of the best things I ever did! Go deep though so the line won't freeze. Good luck!

Kathy Paternoster
Our Father's Farm
New Hampton, NY
(845)374-7712
http://ourfathersfarm.net
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smurphync

4 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2014 :  10:22:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks to everyone for all of your insight.
Sam

Sam Murphy
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