Llamas and alpacas both belong to the camelid family, and while they have a few differences in appearance and behavior, can they live together on a farm?
Llamas and alpaca can live together, but should be separated based on gender. Females can get easily hurt, so separating the eager males can be beneficial to the herd. Llamas can be slightly more trouble than alpacas, but both species are relatively tame on the farm.
So, even though you can have both animals together, some farmers recommend that inexperienced alpaca and llama owners should steer clear. Sometimes alpacas and llamas cause more trouble than others or might need to be separated based on gender. Let’s take a further look.
When to Separate Alpacas and Llamas
Separating your herd is important in several instances, such as if it’s breeding season if you have a more aggressive animal, and if you have both genders in the herd.
Llamas and alpacas should be separated based on gender. This is largely for the protection of the females.
Intact males also have more of a likelihood of having issues with other livestock. For best results, you should separate your alpacas and llamas and only run them with the same-sex species with no other livestock (guardian dogs are the exception).
Keep in mind that while alpaca and llamas aren’t too territorial, they have been known not to get along with some other livestock. Here’s a list of animals they commonly don’t get along with:
There are times when you have that one short-tempered alpaca or llama that isn’t compatible with the herd. For the safety of the herd, it might be best to separate that one from the rest. Sometimes they can be reassigned to your goat herd and have a better time.
The Main Differences Between Llamas and Alpacas
|Ears||Banana-shaped||Smaller and pointed|
|Maximum number per acre||8||4|
|Do they spit?||Yes||Yes|
|Lifespan||Up to 30 years||Up to 25 years|
|Friendliness||Less friendly||More friendly|
When it comes to llamas and alpacas, there are a few physical and behavioral differences.
First, llamas are pretty much double the size of alpacas. This can be a big factor for homesteaders who are deciding on which one to raise. Of course, with a bigger body and weight, you’re going to need more feed. However, llamas make good guardian animals, so the extra expense could be worth it.
Another time when you should decide on a llama vs alpaca is when it comes to the amount of land you have. If you have a smaller acreage, it might make more sense to get alpacas (or at least more alpacas to llamas).
Other than food and space, their needs are largely the same. They both like a grass-fed diet and hay in the winter.
Both llamas and alpacas spit (usually only when threatened), with llamas being slightly more likely to do so. They should both have at least a 3-sided shelter, especially in cold and wet conditions.
One big difference between the two comes down to their fleeces. Farmers usually prize the alpaca’s fleece since it’s superior to wool and fetches a good price. On the other hand, llama fleece has a coarse outer layer. For this reason, llama fleece isn’t really usable or profitable. Regardless, both animals should still be shorn once a year for upkeep and to prevent overheating in the warmer months.
Are Llamas or Alpacas Friendlier?
Overall, alpacas can be gentler since llamas are slightly more prone to spitting and aggression. Llamas are known to be more independent and sometimes uncooperative. Alpacas often are friendly and get along with their herd. However, this is a generalization, and both species are very often friendly.
If you rescue a llama or alpaca, make sure to observe their behavior before and after introducing them to the herd. This will help prevent incompatibility and competitive issues, especially in the beginning.
Just like with any animal, friendliness and aggression depend on nature and nurture. Sometimes aggression and friendliness are a genetic trait, while other times it’s a learned behavior. Compared to raising from birth, recusing can be tougher because you can’t influence how they were nurtured before you received them.
All in all, both are friendly, but there’s the occasional troublemaker. If that happens, watch them with an open mind and see if there are any creative solutions (like sticking the grumpy llama with goats instead).
Which Is Easier to Raise?
As with their behavior, mentioned above, the level of difficulty raising them depends on the individual animal. However, there are a few key differences that can make alpacas easier to raise than a llama.
Since llamas are double the size of alpacas, you’re going to need double the feed and acreage. Additionally, when their yearly shearing comes around, alpacas have half the volume of fleece and will often lay down easily and be cooperative. These few reasons make alpacas slightly easier to raise.
Once in a while, you’ll find a llama will be a tad more aggressive than most alpacas. Their stubbornness and independence can make for a harder time when you’re doing your daily homesteading tasks.
Can Llamas and Alpacas Breed?
If you’re considering raising both llamas and alpacas, you may be thinking about more than their friendliness. For example, what happens if you leave intact llamas and alpacas together? Can, and will they breed?
Llamas and alpacas can in fact breed together. A male llama can mate with a female alpaca, creating a species called a huarizo. Huarizos are often naturally sterile and cannot mate, but minor genetic intervention could help them reproduce.
There have been times where a female huarizo can breed with a male alpaca and give birth to a cria (full alpaca), without genetic intervention, so there are exceptions to this rule.
Huarizos are the same size as their alpaca mothers, so they don’t take up too much space on the homestead. Just like how mules are a cross between a horse and donkey (and also sterile), huarizo are the equivalent for llamas and alpacas.
Alpacas and llamas can definitely live together, but they should be separated based on gender. This is usually for the protection of the females. If you keep an eye on the males that try to establish a pecking order, and you separate the herd based on gender, llamas and alpacas should give you very few problems. Just make sure you have enough land and food to go around and look out for that occasional grumpy one.