There are a number of things to consider when laying out your farm. If you are lucky enough to already have barns and/or fencing in place then you will need to adapt to what exists. If not, here are some options to consider and how we addressed them at Black Forest Alpacas. One feature we highly recommend is a wide lane separating your pastures with a gate to each pasture and two additional gates to close off the lane. At a minimum, this lane needs to be at least 10 feet wide. We prefer 14 to 18 feet to accomodate a small tractor or a truck and trailer. With all four gates closed you can create a small pen. With three gates open it is relatively easy to herd the animals from the open pasture into the lane. Feeding them grain in the lane makes this even easier. Once in the lane the third gate is closed. The animals are easily herded up and the fourth gate closed to create the catch pen. This is much easier on you and much less traumatic for the animals.
Barns can provide shelter for your alpacas, hay storage, equipment storage, contain a vet working area or any combination of these. Size and type of barn will be determined by what you want to do inside as well as the astetics of your farm and the surrounding landscape. Initial cost as well as maintenance requirements should also be considered when choosing a barn design. We choose a steel building for equipment and hay storage. A vet area and room for a pen in case there is a sick animal is also provided for. Take a look at Barn Construction for details and pictures.
We chose to house our alpacas in three sided sheds. Here in upstate New York the weather is not too severe for them to live outside year round.
Fencing is probably the most important aspect of your facility layout. It not only provides security for your investment butr also has tremendous impact on the aesthetics of your farm. Installation cost, durability and maintenance are also major concerns when choosing the type of fencing you will use. Chain link, electric, traditional three rail, welded wire and woven wire all have their pros and cons. We chose 5' high woven wire, 2x4 mesh, for our perimeter due to the growing population of coyotes in our area. All gates are covered with the same mesh and a high voltage electric wire deters animals from digging under this fence. We use 4' fencing of the same type to separate the paddocks. One of the advantages of this fencing is that it does not obstruct visibility of the animals from the house. We can always see what is going on in the pasture. Take a look at Fence Constructionto see how this fencing project was done.