Alpacas can thrive in a number of different kind of shelters. At least a three sided shed is the usual recommendation. Alpacas need to be able to come in out of the wind, rain, and snow. The three sides provide a windbreak as well as shade.
In the Southern states, where snow and cold winds are not as much of a concern, some breeders house their alpacas in carports that are open on all sides. These structures provide shade and some shelter from rain, and are less expensive than similar structures with sides. Personally, I prefer 3 sides for a shelter, but many alpaca breeders in warmer climates are happy with these open shelters. In climates where summers are hot and humid, having electric fans in your shelter is essential for keeping alpacas cool.
In more Northern parts of the country, a full barn may be the preferred way of housing alpacas. It is nice to be able to lock the animals inside during a blizzard, protecting them from chilly winds and snow.
On our farm we have three different types of shelters. The first is my beloved barn. A 40×60 Morton building with skylights, hayloft, feed room, office, and restroom. I love this barn. I designed it, and it makes my heart sing. But alpacas do not have to have such a fancy set-up. They do just as well in our other shelters.
Our second shelter is a garage that we’ve converted into a “boys barn”. Our farm came with an existing out-building that had a finished area and an open area with 2 bay doors. We use the finished area for seminars or fiber arts. The part with the bay doors is divided with one bay for the adult alpaca males, and one for the lawn mower and other tools. To create this shelter we simply put steel panels in the barn to divide it up, and extended fencing up to the door. This has worked really well for our farm.
A couple of years ago we wanted to add another shelter to the front of our property, but we didn’t want to spend much money or add another permanent structure. We found this wonderful shelter at FarmTek.
They show it with baby cows in it. We ordered the larger 16X12 version (pictured below). With shipping included this shelter cost us less than $2,000. Ours has a leak (hence the tarp), which is most likely due to being installed without reading the directions. Other than that one glitch, this shelter is a super solution for a semi-portal and relatively inexpensive alpaca shelter.
I love the “loafing sheds” made by Sand Creek Post & Beam. A friend of ours just got government funds to help her build 3-sided sheds in all of her pastures! At our new farm in TN, I will be applying to get the same so that I can have one of these in every pasture.
To sum it up, alpacas aren’t picky. Give them a way to get out of the weather and they’ll be fine.
If you have pictures of your alpaca (or other livestock) shelters you’d like to share, email them to me at katy (at) alpacafarmgirl (dot)com.