Pasture Management

When we brought home our alpaca herd, we had five boys and eight girls. We were under the impression that we only needed two pastures since you have to keep them separated.  Alpacas are induced ovulators, meaning they don’t cycle like most animals. Alpacas ovulate to an external derived stimulus, typically by the male orgling. This post isn’t  about breeding though, so if you want to learn more about it, I’ll leave you here. Apparently you can learn just about anything on Wikipedia…part 2 especially cracked me up, but again, this isn’t about that…we’ll do a post on that later as I plan on diving into my spring breeding this weekend.

One of the “perks” mentioned with buying alpacas is how “green” they are, easy on the land…I call malarkey. I remember sending a picture of our beautiful green pasture with happy alpacas on it to the farm we got them from and the response was “I bet they are loving that green grass”. Hmm…of course they are, but didn’t you have green grass? <–insert thought bubble there. Okay, so they don’t dig holes or otherwise destroy everything in sight, BUT they will and do eat just about anything green, right down to bare dirt given you don’t have good pasture management.

We learned quickly that we needed to fence in more pasture and overseed with various grasses to keep the alpacas in green grass and money in our pockets, as hay isn’t cheap. We watched Youtube videos, bought a John Deere tractor with the proper implements, and we were an instant Fence Installation Team. Our fences are not especially beautiful, and they may be crooked, but so far they have kept everyone in and bad stuff out, so we are doing okay.

We made the grave mistake of paying a guy in “pasture management” to come and overseed for us the first year. I am pretty sure he spread more “air” than seed and tried to get a thousand dollars from us for future upkeep. HA! This guy did not know me too well. Off we were to do more internet research and we figured out how to do it ourselves.

I had no plan to make this a post, but yesterday as I was rotating the girls off a pasture I thought to myself, “this is a blog post, this is a learning opportunity for someone”.

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The left side has had a couple days of growth, whereas the right side had the girls on it for 2 days. (I don’t usually keep them on a side for 2 days but it had been so hot they hardly left the barn)

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2 more pastures in the back behind “barren wasteland”…

We now have the main pasture and two turn out pastures for our boys, with there being only five of them that is plenty of grass; however, we are now up to twelve girls with three more coming, so we have our dry lot plus four turn out pastures. I should have a schedule as to when they go into each pasture, but I use my eyes instead, they are given access to whichever pasture looks the best on any given day. We do have one boys pasture that butts up to the girls so we have to be careful and have an empty pasture between them.

In the late fall/early winter we take everyone off the turn out pastures and keep them on the dry lot with hay until spring. We over seed when we take them off. We are still learning, but are definitely getting better at this whole farming business.

 

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