Can Alpacas Live in Cold Weather? (4 Things To Consider)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Can alpacas live in cold weather? Alpacas can comfortably live in cold weather or temperatures that are very cold. This is because of their fleece which keeps them warm and protects them from the harsh weather conditions.

 Alpacas have their fiber to keep them warm, and honestly they mind the heat much more than the cold. However, there are times and conditions when our alpacas appreciate a little help keeping warm.

Our rule of thumb is that we close the alpacas in the barn, when we hit single digit temperatures.  

Even alpacas appreciate being able to get out of cold, harsh winds and pelting rain or snow.  

We line the inside walls of their shelter with bales of straw, stacked three or four high, to cut down on the drafts as well as have handy for layering on top of the manure. 

Other than the cold and the snow, alpaca care is actually a little easier in the winter because we don’t clean up the manure in the barn.  

Rather we spread straw on top of the manure.  

Heat is generated from the lower layers of composting manure and straw.

How cold is too cold for alpacas?

Can Alpacas Live in Cold Weather

Although alpacas can handle extreme cold and will survive in harsh weather, it gets to a point where the cold is too much.

When this happens they tend to suffer if their fleece is too thin or the wind chill and temperature is just too cold.

Typically alpacas can handle temperatures below freezing within the range of 0 to 15 degree Farenheit.

How do you keep alpacas warm in winter?

To everything there is a season.  

This is true on any farm, and an alpaca farm is no different.

On our farm we deal primarily with farm start ups and newcomers to alpaca farming.  

Two of the key questions we get from newcomers, and even journalists that visit the farm, is what happens to the alpacas in winter, and what do you do to get ready for winter on the farm? 

We’ve talked to a number of alpaca owners over the last few days. 

Most are people who haven’t had experience with an extended period of very cold temps like this and they’ve concerned about what they should do to keep their alpacas warm. 

Here are some reminders about dealing with sub-zero temps.

First, make sure your barn is keeping out the wind. 

A three sided shelter is fine if the open side is facing away from the wind and the other sides are solid enough to block the wind. 

If not, put up some plastic or stack some hay bales – just two high is fine for cushed alpacas.

Put plenty of bedding on the floor. We always spread out an extra bale or two in really cold weather.

Keep the hay feeders full. 

The alpacas will go through a lot of hay during cold snaps.

Make sure you have water available. 

We use heated water buckets all winter.

If you take care of the basics listed above, you shouldn’t have to worry much about the alpacas unless you have animals that are compromised in some way. 

We provide coats for our older/skinnier alpacas. 

If we have a small cria, we will coat it.

Our alpacas are usually free to go in and out of the barn as they choose. 

In this weather, we will shut most of the doors and just leave one or two open enough that those who want to go out can. 

Most of our alpacas opt to stay in the barn or under the overhang on the sunny side when it’s cold.

Here are some tips to help you get by

  1. Breed for spring and autumn births.
  2. Use layered, thick, dry bedding in sheds and barn.
  3. Bring alpacas inside in extreme cold and when they are wet dry them off before sending them back to the pasture.
  4. Use a flame and fan-free heating system when heat is used.
  5. Avoid drafts.
  6. Provide good drainage.
  7. Provide good ventilation and air circulation in all barns year round.
  8. Clear pastures of snow in areas large enough to provide exercise.
  9. For cria hypothermia, place cria in a plastic water-tight bag in warm water up to, but not including, the head.
  10. Use heated water buckets.
  11. Use cria coats and coats for adults when you see them shiver.  Use common sense.
  12. Feed large volumes of high quality hay in cold weather.

Can Alpacas Survive the Cold?

Generally, yes. Alpacas are amazingly resilient animals and have adapted successfully to the extremes of both very hot and very cold climates. 

In hot, humid climates, alpaca owners need to take extra precautions to make sure that the alpacas do not suffer from heat stress.

What Temperatures do Alpacas Live in?

Alpacas are native to a climate which can fluctuate between extremes of temperature in excess of 30ºC during the day to below freezing at night, combined with a very low humidity, making them extremely resilient in regards to heat and cold, but not so tolerant to heat combined with high humidity, or cold combined.

Do Alpacas need shelter in winter?

Alpacas need shelter in the winter to protect them from the harsh weather.

This is because like most farm animals, they usually cannot function properly in winter and will need a place to feed and stay warm.

Now if this starts to scare you, then it should not. Alpacas are herd animals and can live comfortably with other animals like goats, sheep and horses.

So as you prepare for winter, you want to ensure that you make adequate preparation for your animals.

Using some of the tips listed above, you want to get hay and spread on the floor so they stay warm during the cold.

You also want to make sure you get them automatic feeders so they have access to food all the time.


Alpacas can live and survive in cold weather

They are very resilient animals and can easily adapt to the extremes of both hot and cold weather.

One thing you need to know also is that even though they can adapt and live in cold weather, you should ensure that you provide warmth for them whenever possible

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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