Often mistaken for llamas or camels, alpacas are some of the most easily domesticated animals. Gentle, curious and friendly, they are considered have been considered the gem of the Andes Mountains for over 6,000 years.
This breed of New World camelids has shaggy necks, no humps (unlike popular belief), long ears, pronounced noses and camel-like faces. Look them in the eyes, and you will find a child-like curiosity.
There are two types of alpacas and they are qualified based on their fleece:
Huacaya – the predominant breed of alpacas in North America. They have dense, crimped, wooly and somewhat water resistant fleece.
Suri – a much more rare breed of alpacas. Unlike the Hacaya, Suri has unique fiber characteristics that make them easy to distinguish. Their slick and soft like cashmere fiber grows parallel to their body in long and separate locks.
It is important to note, that the hair of the alpacas is referred to as fleece or fiber. Thousands of years ago, their hair was used as currency, making the Suri fiber very expensive. Due to the fact that this breed is very rare.
In order to raise and breed alpacas organically and naturally, you have to pay close attention to their health. In this sense, various herbs play a crucial role in the lifelong well-being of these beautiful creatures.
The land where you breed alpacas if absolutely essential. However, the herbs that grow on the land are equally important.
During my long years of breeding alpacas, I’ve come across a variety of plants and herbs. Astonishingly enough, alpacas seem to be able to distinguish what is best for them.
Nettles (Utrica Dioica)
Often referred to as common nettle or stinging nettle, this plant is extremely rich in chlorophyll. One of many plants that we, humans, like to use as spices. It is abundant on minerals, iron, lime, sodium, chlorine and protein. When it comes to alpacas, it helps strengthen their muscles and increases milk yield.
Wormwood (Artemesia Absinthium Compositae)
This herb is a great worm expellant. It has strong anti-bacterial properties and it can be used against contagious diseases. When mixed with manuka honey and sage as a brew, it can help difficult alpaca births.
Aloe Vera (Aloe lilaceae)
This herb is a bit harder to grow, it requires dry and sandy places. However, it is absolutely amazing for the treatment of urinary conditions, mastitis, indigestion and constipation in alpacas.
Yarrow (Achilea Millefolium Compositae)
I’ve found that herb to be useful for the treatment of pleurisy, and haemorrhages. Also, it is quite easy to plant in North America.
Parsley (Petroselirium Crispuni Umbelliferae)
Good old parsley grows best in moist conditions and full sun. As with humans, this herb helps alpacas fight kidney stones, obesity, worms, constipation, and various bladder conditions.
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale Compositae)
Great for blood cleansing, featured in almost any cleansing “green” juice recipe. Besides preventing skin eruption, dandelion is great for the liver.
Mallow (Althea Officinalis Malvacea)
This is one of the most popular herbs that can be found in pretty much any farm. The reason is that it is loved by all animals – big and small. Mallow speeds up the treatment of all kinds of internal conditions, such as inflammations. Especially helpful for the stomach and bowel.
Some other herbs that are amazing for the health of alpacas include Mullein, Shepherds Purse, Mint, Fumitory, Chives, Comfrey, Chamomile, Echinacea, Rose Hip, Raspberry Leaf, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Willow, Poplar, Robinia, Pine, Tagasaste and Photinia.
Making such herbs available to your alpacas will increase their health substantially. This will be visibly reflected by their fleece. It will grow at a faster and thicker rate.