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see West Melton

Alpaca Articles

Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.

They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA and also through articles on this website and other websites.

Click here for more articles  




  On any farm, livestock need to be able to be caught and handled, with the minimum of fuss. Its a good idea to write down the main things your alpacas and llamas will need to be handled for and how often, as this will make it easier to plan your farm layout and obtain the most benefit from it.




Think first of how the animals are going to be moved around, and how will they move from one end of the property to the other. Try to achieve a good flow and make it easy for your animals to find their way back and forth.

A central lane or raceway is a great asset. You might even have several raceways - they can always be used for short term holding pens or overnight grazing.

Make sure there is a good clear pathway as they like to see where they are going. Avoid bottle necks such as narrow gaps between buildings or around blind corners, or dead ends - often they get to the other end before you and then run back past you.

The placement of gates is very important - in the corner of a paddock is usually the best. Arrange them to swing out to close off the raceway.

If you have a mixture of small and large paddocks, it is often easier to move animals into smaller paddocks than directly into a narrow race.

Consider having a special birthing paddock close to the house so that it is easier to keep an eye on that expectant mum and those newborn cria.

At Southern Alpacas Stud alpacas run behind roadside deer fences, with seven strand sheep fences as internal fences, and wooden fencing up the driveway and around the house.



A good set of yards are essential. Alpacas and llamas normally only need the minimum of restraint and often, for things like matings, we only need the simplest of holding facilities.

 If there is a frequent need for temporary yards, use some farm gates that are well secured to solid posts, or buy a portable catch pen, or use portable gates like Prattleys.

The simplest form of a yard is an extra gate across the raceway (see figures below). This makes an easy and effective catch pen, when you dont want to bring the whole group in.


Raceway Yard

Where several paddocks come together in a raceway, extra gates can create holding pens, and a place to split a group into different paddocks.


An effective system is where several paddocks come together in a raceway. (see figure).

Gates can be offset to give a bigger holding area. Its very useful if you want to split a group up into different paddocks and also makes a very good mating area.



A small yard or catch pen in the corner of a larger paddock (if its a natural flow area) is very useful. (see figure).

A good place to build these is often between two paddocks, where animals move through on a regular basis.





Hay barns or implement sheds are very easily converted into an effective handling area with a simple fence or gates along the front or ends (see figure) and they provide a wet weather option.


Specialised yards in a central location is the ultimate. We have yards in the end of our shearing and fibre centre (see figure) and can handle groups of up to 30+ alpacas at once, but you will benefit even with a few animals.



Standard sheep type fencing is suitable for alpacas and llamas. If you are using sheep netting (normally 900 mm high) you may like to put a single plain wire (no barbed wire please) on the top to bring it up to 1,000 mm which is usually more than high enough.

If you are replacing boundary fence consider installing higher deer fencing, for security from people, and protection from possible dog attacks (not common but they have occurred).

Electric fencing is not recommended (turn the power off) and if you do have to use an existing electric fence line, make sure to remove all of the plastic tape and only use the wire.

In medium pressure areas, post and rail fencing works very well and the animals look great against such a backdrop. Post and rail is also the best option for your main yard areas, 1000 mm high is OK for the alpacas but for llamas we go to 1300 mm high for that extra security.

For high pressure areas, such as catch pens and crushes it is recommended that you use solid ply or timber walls. This will prevent feet and legs getting caught and make it safer for cria as well.

At Southern Alpacas Stud raceways lead into timber yards, which narrow towards the handling pens. Solid wood at the bottom of the walls prevents feet and legs getting caught in the yards.



Both alpacas and llamas are very intelligent animals. Give them the run of the raceways and yards, as they like to find their own way around.

Feed them in the yards and use food (especially pellets) as a management tool to encourage them to come in.

Move them in and out of yards just for practice, at a time when nothing happens to them so they build up confidence in the yards and in you.  



Author Profile  

Paul Garland of Waratah Flats Alpaca and Llama stud has over 30 years experience in the husbandry and breeding of alpaca and llamas through his professional career in zoos and the international conservation field. He was the Director of Orana Park Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch for 21 years.

Paul purchased his first llamas in 1984, and currently Paul's operation with wife Lynda Sides-Garland focuses on both alpaca and llamas. T

Paul says "Most of us inherit someone elses fences and yards and we just make them work the best way we can.  No one system works well for all situations, so it is often a matter of working out a system that suits your setup. We are happy to pass on the knowledge gained over many years of working with alpacas and llamas."

This article was published, in a longer version, in the December 2005 issue of New Zealand Alpaca, the magazine of the Alpaca Association of New Zealand, and in a shorter version in Lifestyle Farmer magazine in February 2007.

Photo credits - Linda Blake, Southern Alpacas Stud

Updated Oct 2012

Nic Cooper and Linda Blake
Main West Coast Road, West Melton, RD1, Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone 0064 3 318-1917 | fax 0064 3 318-1927 | email alpacasnz@xtra.co.nz