Can I Have an Alpaca in My Backyard? Everything You Need to Know

The answer to the question “Can I have an alpaca in my backyard” is not as simple as it sounds. Since alpacas are small and don’t take up much space, most people may think thatthere’s no problem with having one in their yard. However, this isn’t always true and can depend on several factors, such as city regulations, the size of your property, and what you plan to do with the animal once it lives in your backyard. Today we will walk you through everything you need to know to decide whether a backyard alpaca is a possibility.

First things first…

Image of a brown alpaca. Text: Can I have an alpaca in my backyard?

What is an Alpaca?

An alpaca is a type of camelid that can be found in the Andes Mountains of South America.

They are often bred for their fiber, which can be made into a wide variety of products such as yarn, cloth and blankets.

They are related to llamas and camels and have two toed feet and a long, bushy tail.

Alpacas can weigh anywhere between 100 and 200 pounds and are around three and a half feet tall at the shoulder.

There are two types of alpacas – Huacaya and Suri.

The Huacaya is the more common type, with fluffy fiber that grows in bunches

Huacaya alpacas are generally considered to be more common and can have fiber that is soft, bouncy and crimpy.

Suri alpacas can grow long hair with locks instead of individual fibers which can give their coats a silky appearance.

Over the past few decades homeowners have been getting more and more interested in alpacas.

This is for many reasons, such as providing income, a fun hobby, or even helping with stress relief! Not to mention they are adorable.

However, it’s important to remember that there are many things you need to consider carefully before deciding if an alpaca is suitable for your backyard.

A brown and white alpaca in a yard with a white picket fence.

Is it Legal to Have an Alpaca in my Backyard?

If you live in the continental U.S. you will be glad to know that alpacas are legal in all 50 states.

However, that doesn’t give you the green light to go out an buy an alpaca just yet.

It’s important to understand that there are a variety of jurisdictions that will ultimately determine whether or not you will be able to call a backyard alpaca your own.

City Ordinances

Certain cities may have regulations or ordinances that prohibit people from keeping farm animals on their property. This can mean horses, sheep, pigs, cattle…and alpacas!

If you are interested in having an alpaca living on your property, make sure to check with the city first before making any big decisions.

A good place to start can be by checking out their zoning department or website for more information regarding farm animals and ordinances.

If there are no laws prohibiting farm animals, it can still be important to check with your city before making any final decisions.

If you find out that alpacas are allowed in the area and there aren’t any ordinances prohibiting them from being kept on residential land, then this is a point in your favor!

The next step would be checking with your local government about how many alpacas can be kept on a certain sized property. This is common for many backyard animals, including chickens. While it’s legal to own backyard chickens in many large cities, there are limits on how many and the same could be true for alpacas.

If you have any questions about the ordinances that may apply to your city or county, don’t hesitate to give them a call!

Zoning Laws

In addition to being governed by local laws and ordinances, zoning laws can also play a role in whether or not an alpaca can be kept on your property.

Zoning laws can dictate the types of activities that are allowed to take place on a piece of property.

For example, if you live in a residential area and the zoning law specifically prohibits any agricultural activity from taking place, then it’s likely that keeping an alpaca on your land would not be allowed.

Homeowner’s Associations

Another essential thing to consider can be homeowner’s associations (HOA’s).

These can play a large role in whether or not you’re allowed to have alpacas on your property, even if it is zoned for agricultural activity and there are no ordinances prohibiting farm animals from being kept at home.

Homeowner’s associations can create their own guidelines which can include things like restrictions on the number or type of animals you can keep and the type or outbuildings and fencing you can have on your property.

Be sure to check your HOA agreement or contact them to see if any restrictions apply to keeping alpacas.

Alpaca wearing a blue collar eating grass.

Property Size & Lot Restrictions

Finally, there can also be lot size restrictions when it comes to having backyard animals.

This can be the case whether or not there are any ordinances in place that prohibit farm animals from being kept on a piece of property.

It’s important to remember that alpacas can take up quite a bit of space!

How much land do you need to keep Alpacas?

Alpacas prefer a pretty significant amount of land to be happy.

Whether or not they are raised for fiber, meat, or breeding purposes can depend on the space requirements needed.

Generally speaking though, you will need at least one acre per alpaca in order for them to live comfortably.

However, alpacas are herd animals and best when there are in a group.

If you’re thinking about keeping backyard alpacas, it’s important to make sure that you have enough space on your property for them and can accommodate their needs.

Since you should plan on having at least three or more alpacas you will need a backyard that is approximately three-four acres. This will allow them enough space to graze and roam freely.

Remember: Alpacas can grow upwards of six feet tall and weigh up to two hundred pounds, so be sure to take this into account when measuring how much space they will need.

Example of backyard fencing to keep alpacas safe.

Fencing and Landscaping for Alpacas

If you have determined that you can in fact keep alpacas on your property, the next step is to make sure that they are safe and secure.

This means having a proper fence in place and ensuring that there is no way for them to escape.

Alpacas are curious animals and will often try to explore their surroundings.

They can also use their long necks to reach over or under fences, so it’s important to make sure that they can’t escape.

You also want to make sure they are completely protected from any predators you may have in your area like bears, coyotes or mountain lions.

Ideally, alpacas should have a six-foot fence all the way around their area with wire fencing at the bottom and top of the enclosure as well as on any other sides where an animal could potentially jump or climb over.

If you live in an area with cold winters, you will also need to make sure that they have a shelter to go into to keep them warm and out of the wind.

This can be anything from a small barn to just a few sturdy trees where they can get out of the weather.

In addition, landscaping can also be a big factor in successfully keeping alpacas.

When it comes to landscaping for alpacas you will want to make sure there are no poisonous plants or bushes that can harm them and plenty of grass for them to eat.

It’s essential to do thorough research before planting anything around your property and consider what types of food or forage can be grown to keep your alpacas healthy.

Why Do People Want Alpacas?

Alpacas can make great backyard pets for a variety of different reasons.

For starters, they are very friendly and love attention from humans!

They can be trained to do specific tasks like pulling carts, making them ideal for seniors or people with disabilities who want companionship but need help moving around.

However, alpacas can also be used for agricultural purposes.

Their wool is very valuable and can be sold for a high price.

Alpacas can also be bred for their meat, which is becoming an increasingly popular option for people who want to raise their own livestock.

Overall, alpacas make great backyard pets because they are beautiful animals that can be used for a variety of different purposes.

They can also provide you with additional sources of income if your property can accommodate their needs to graze and roam free.

Another reason that many people consider owning alpacas is for tax purposes. 

Alpacas can be claimed as a business expense on your taxes, which can save you money in the long run.

How Much do Alpacas Cost?

Alpacas can cost anywhere from $500 up to $50,000 depending on the age and breed of animal that you are looking for.

For example, a two-month old alpaca can be purchased in most cases for around $500 while breeding females can go upwards of ten times as much!

Male alpacas can also be much more expensive than female alpacas because they can be used for breeding, creating income for their owners.

Most people don’t consider the costs of owning an animal when it comes to something like a backyard pet, but there are actually several expenses that need to be taken into account before you can begin looking for your perfect alpaca.

For example, you will need to pay for a veterinarian if your alpaca gets sick, as well as purchase hay and grain to keep them fed.

You will also want to invest in a shed or barn to keep them warm during the winter months and a trailer to haul them to shows, their veterinary visits, or in case of an emergency like a wildfire.

The average monthly cost of feeding and caring for two alpacas is approximately $300. Compared to owning a dog or cat…this is quite an investment.

All of these costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to do your research and plan ahead before you decide that an alpaca is the right pet for your family.

Caring for Alpacas

Alpacas can be very high maintenance depending on the breed of animal that you have.

For their diet, alpacas eat hay and can typically eat up to about two-thirds of a bale per day.

This can be an expensive purchase if you are feeding alpacas that you plan on breeding frequently, so it’s important to keep this in mind when budgeting for your new backyard pet!

Fresh grass can also be a good source of food for your alpaca, so if you can keep grass growing in your backyard that will keep you alpacas happy and give them something to graze on.

Alpacas can drink upwards of six gallons or more per day so make sure that they always have access to freshwater!

Alpacas can also become very stressed if they are not kept with other alpacas, so it’s important to have the space and resources to own one or more of these animals successfully.

Their coats are also very important to keep groomed and free of parasites, so you will need to be prepared to brush them regularly.

Interestingly, alpacas have nails instead of hooves and they will need to have their nails trimmed every few months in order to avoid infection.

They also have sharp teeth that can grow quite long if they are not trimmed, so be prepared to pay for that service, unless you plan on learning how to do it yourself.

You should be prepared to provide regular veterinary care for your alpacas in case they get sick or injured.

Alpacas can live up to 25 years and females can begin breeding as soon as they’re about 12 months old.

That’s a long-term commitment…and many people don’t realize this before purchasing an animal.

Overall, these are beautiful animals that can make great backyard pets but they can also be high maintenance and require a lot of resources.

If you can provide all of the necessary resources, alpacas can make great backyard pets for people who are prepared for the investment.

They are intelligent animals that can be used for a variety of purposes and can provide financial stability.

However, if you can’t provide all their needs…you might want to reconsider putting an alpaca in your backyard.

Woman with a handful of alpaca wool before it is processed.

Is Alpaca Wool Valuable?

The short answer is yes!

Alpaca wool can be very valuable because it’s so soft, silky…and can provide you with a source of income if your alpacas are sheared every year.

Most alpaca wool is turned into yarn. Alpaca yarn can be sold for around $15 per skein, so if you have a few regularly sheared animals, you can make a nice profit.

Keep in mind that this can vary depending on the breed of animal that you have and how much fiber or fleece they can produce.

Some can create a lot of fleece while others may only provide enough to make a few items each year!

Alpacas are typically sheared once per year, which can provide you with anywhere from four to eight pounds of fleece.

You can also sell the fiber at this time for an average price of $100-$120/pound…which can add up quickly!

Most people choose to only shear their alpacas when they are in good physical condition so that it doesn’t stress them out too much, so it can take some time to build up a large supply of fleece.

Keep in mind that shearing can also be done by an experienced breeder or farm who can do this for you as well!

That being said…alpaca wool can be very valuable and can provide you with additional income if you properly care for these animals.

Alpacas vs. Llamas

People often get alpacas and llamas confused…but there are some key differences between these animals.

  • Llamas can be used as pack animals, while Alpacas cannot .
  • Alpacas are typically much smaller than llamas.
  • An alpaca can grow to be about four feet tall and can weigh up t o 200 pounds, while a llama can be over five feet tall at the shoulder and can weight well over 300 pounds!  Llamas also have thicker coats that make them more
  • Alpacas typically have a higher wool yield than Llamas
  • Alpacas come in more colors than Llamas .

While llamas and alpacas are both  South American camelids…they aren’t the same thing. If you plan on becoming an alpaca owner, it’s important you know the difference.

So, Can I Haven an Alpaca in my Backyard or Not?

If you can provide all the necessary resources for an alpaca, they can make a great backyard pet.

They are beautiful animals and can be used for a variety of purposes.

However, they can also be high maintenance and require a lot of resources…so if you’re not prepared for the commitment, you might want to reconsider.

Alpacas can make great backyard pets for the right family who is willing to invest in their care and upkeep.

They can provide you with additional income through breeding and selling of a high-quality alpaca fleece and a potential tax write-off.

If you feel confident you have the time and finances to support and care for alpacas your next step is to confirm with your local agencies that it’s legal  to do so.

If their are no restrictions, you can feel confident moving forward and preparing your property for keeping alpacas.

As long as you can provide them with everything they need to thrive, alpacas can make a great backyard pet

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