Our winters might be getting warmer, but you can’t prove it by the temps around here this week. It’s almost noon today and we haven’t made it up to ten below yet!
The best thing about this weather is that it usually means clear blue skies and sun. Those are two things we don’t see enough of during Vermont winters.
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.
Stay warm and enjoy the sun!