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Alpacas are herd animals and do best in groups of three or more of the same sex. Male and female alpacas should never be housed together after weaning (when a baby no longer requires their mother's milk), due to the risk of accidental breedings. Gelded males (those who have been castrated) will still try to breed a female, which can result in uterine infections and ultimately infertility.

Alpacas are relatively easy to care for, however, new owners must research their keeping and care before joining the industry to ensure herd health. Visiting local alpaca farms, asking questions, and consulting with seasoned mentors are wonderful investments of time. General maintenance includes daily fresh, cool water in the summer months, and fresh, warm water in the winter months, access to fans for cooling in the summer months, constant access to quality, free choice grass hay, access to a maintained lush pasture, and free choice minerals designed for alpacas. Alpacas can also be supplemented with grain when they are pregnant or nursing, underweight, or not yet fully grown.

About ten alpacas can graze on one acre of maintained pasture. They are considered "gentle grazers" because of their padded feet versus hooves, and because they only nibble off the tops of grass versus uprooting it like a goat. In New York State, Alpacas require annual rabies vaccinations administered by a registered veterinarian. Because alpacas are susceptible to Meningeal worm (M-worm) carried by whitetail deer, they need a monthly preventative Ivermectin or Dectomax shot, which can be administered by the herd owner. Beans (alpaca poop) should be removed from barns and paddocks daily to minimize parasite risks. Alpacas have nails that grow and need to be trimmed as needed.

Alpacas do not need to be brushed but do require shearing (the removal of their fiber) once yearly. Ethical shearing is necessary to collect fiber and for the health of the alpaca; it does not hurt them. An experienced shearer can shear one animal in about five minutes, start to finish. Some alpacas with particularly full face fiber will require facial trims to prevent the animal from becoming fiber blind (the fiber growing over the eyes making it impossible for them to see).

While they can be skittish, Alpacas are very easy to handle when compared to other livestock. They are incredibly intelligent and intuitive, and can be halter broke to lead, which makes their general care and keeping easier for handlers. A halter specifically designed for alpacas should always be used when leading, as they have a short snout with mostly cartilage and a high bone up near their eyes where the top of the halter (called a noseband) will sit. An ill-fitting halter can obstruct an Alpaca's breathing and cause distress. Halters should not be left on an animal unless they are being handled, walked, or moved.