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 1. Alpacas 101: Getting Started
 Straw on the floor?
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4 Posts

Posted - 09/02/2014 :  12:16:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Probably sounds like a daft question but I can't find a 'straight' answer anywhere!!

As a COMPLETE novice to any sort of outdoor animal husbandry I am really unsure if I am doing this bit right!

The previous owners of our house and 2 alpacas have left us feed, hay and straw in their 'shed/house/hut'.

I know what to do with the feed and hay - figured that one out!!

BUT I am a bit unsure what and where I am supposed to put/do with the straw??!!

I have been treating the floor of the shed a bit like a rabbit hutch - the closest reference I have as a pet!

They don't do their business in the shed but they do rest in there and I have helped make 'nests' on the floor for them.

It is only a scattering not a massive fluffy pillow of straw!!

I then sweep it up once a week and put fresh down.

I have only started doing this in the last couple of weeks as the weather has been VERY wet here in Wales.

Now is this something I should do year round?

Do I put more down in the colder months?

How often should it be 'mucked' out?

I hope you are kind to this daft question but I have really looked for a sensible answer, even looking for pictures of alpacas in their huts and it seems to differ so much with no straw to layers of it!!

Thank you in advance for your advice!

Guardian of Sancho and Iceman


2830 Posts

Posted - 09/02/2014 :  8:21:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You are not "daft" at all, but being kind to the pacas. It depends on how cold your winters get as to whether you put straw down or not. I do deep bedding in the winter, but am going to try not to do that this winter because it is so much work to muck it out in the spring. My alpacas do poop in the overhang that is right in front of their barn, so sometimes I just use some of the leftover hay that they have thrown out of their hay boxes(maybe a hay feeder or manger to you), and put some of it into the wet areas where they have peed so that it will be easier to clean up the next day.

My barns are cleaned at least once a day, twice a day if I have the time. The only time I use straw is in the winter, and that is to keep a dry spot in the barn for them. I also have two Anatolian Shepherds that guard my herd from the local coyotes, in the barn with the girls. They each have their own doghouses, and I feed them separately from the pacas because the pacas seem to want to eat the dog food.

I started with alpacas eleven years ago and can't imagine my life without them. My beginning herd was four animals, and I now have 27, with ten of them being boys. I do make things out of their fiber and have learned to skirt, card, spin, dye, knit and felt, all of which is a lot of fun, but also time consuming. Have fun with your two, and by the way, they do have personalities and are smart, although they don't always let on that they are.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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4103 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2014 :  10:50:10 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Christiane is right on. Straw is used for bedding primarily in the winter to protect against severe cold. I also use some in warmer weather just to cover their poop areas to absorb urine since my concrete floor has no drain. However, it's fairly expensive, so I prefer wood chips for summertime use on the wet areas.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
The Pastel Paca at LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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469 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2014 :  2:21:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit renfarms's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I agree with what Christiane and Judith have said about using deep bedding in colder weather.

However, I also agree with your instinct to use it as a thin layer to help the animals stay dry during the wet spells. Wet, in the UK -- ?? I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Keeping them from cushing (laying down) on wet muddy earth in the shed can also have the added benefit of protecting that fleece from possibly rotting due to prolonged exposure to moisture. Since you need to shear them each year anyway, you may as well shear off fiber that is in good condition as you or someone you know may be interested in carding and spinning it. With only 2 animals in a small run-in shed, I would clean it up once a week or two weeks during the warm, wet season, depending upon how much they are soiling it. During the colder winter months, you will want to put down a thicker layer of it for better insulation, and change it if you wish to, or simply keep adding more onto the top of it. This can create a bit of extra warmth as the lower layers begin to compost. If your winters are not terribly cold, and again, with only 2 animals and a small shed, you might opt to change it out, even in the winter, as it will be more sanitary, and you will avoid having to "muck" it all out in the spring.

Nothing at all daft about your questions, and your instincts of what to do seem spot on. Enjoy your "tenants"!

Bill and Louise Goebel
Renaissance Farms
McArthur, Ohio 45651
(740) 596-1468
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4 Posts

Posted - 09/04/2014 :  1:53:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you all SO much!!

It feels better to know that following my gut instinct is mostly right!

Where we are in Wales there is a LOT of Hay and Straw available at low cost so I know I can stock up ready for winter - I think we will make some changes to their hut too to make it a bit more spacious and comfy ready for winter and I will add your suggestions and advice to the ever expanding list of improvements for my poor other half to do!!

I like to see them happy and it does seem that the little things I have been doing they like and that in turn makes me happy!

I'm off to make them cosy!

Thanks again!

Guardian of Sancho and Iceman
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