Alpaca Supplies that Work for Us
Raising alpacas or any other farm animal sure takes a lot of stuff. Keeping your livestock healthy and happy takes work. Having the proper alpaca farm equipment, tools, and supplies makes the work easier and makes for a happy alpaca owner.
Some things like cattle panels and no-climb livestock fencing are best purchased locally but the best prices for most things are usually online. Most of my livestock panels have been purchased used from neighbors.
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Here I’m going to review what equipment and supplies that we at AMC have settled on after years of trial and error.
Let’s start with water buckets for alpacas
Behlen Country Stock Tank review:
A water trough is the most important alpaca farm item to get first!
Having a steady and reliable supply of water is critical. Here is what we do; for any pasture with five or more alpacas, get a 150 gallon stock waterer with a drain plug. This is a perfect livestock waterer for summer but maybe a little large for winter, but better too big than too small.
The livestock water trough is usually sold as a horse waterer, but it is also perfect for cattle, sheep, goats, and of course alpacas. You can use them for hay feeders, planters, fish tanks, aquaponics, or even bathtubs!
- At only 25 inches high, all but baby alpacas can reach to the bottom. On one hot summer day, an alpaca herd of 60 or so can drain one of these dry.
- Made with food grade material, no need to worry about toxins leaking into the water. They claim this stock water tank is good down to -20°F. I’ve had it down to -18.9°F here, no problems.
- Water buckets get pretty nasty if they are not cleaned out regularly, the drain plug makes that job easier. What I do, however, is just wait for them to drink the water down far enough to tip the whole thing over.
- Except for the drain plug, the Behlen Country livestock waterer is all one piece; no seams to leak. Also no dents or rust.
- Some people have said that the drain plug leaks. Mine have never leaked, but if they did I would just put some Teflon tape on the threads. Teflon tape is used on pressurized water pipes and works great, so it should certainly work on a water tank.
- Another person complains that there is some water left in the stock tank after draining through the drain plug… what can I say? Tip the tank a little. Sheesh!
My Behlen Country livestock waterers have held up well for us since we bought them in 2007. I have used other water troughs around the ranch and none have lasted. I think these tanks are worthy of your consideration.
Farm Innovators 500W De-Icer review:
For easy stock tank heaters, these hard to beat. On most winter nights it gets below freezing here. If nothing is done about deicing, the water troughs will freeze over too thick for the critters to break through. So we picked up half a dozen of the Farm Innovators submersible deicers for the coldest months and they work great.
They work even in the largest livestock water tanks we have. In a small water bucket they will keep it ice free in any weather and in the largest waterers, the deicer will at least provide an ice- free hole above the heater for the animals to drink from.
If you have a problem with an alpaca that likes to pull or play with the cord, try running the cord through a piece of 1.5″ or larger ABS pipe and sliding it to the bottom of the tank and out through the fence. All of my waterers are next to a fence so this is an easy solution for me.
- These are very easy to use; just drop them in the water and they sink to the bottom. Then just plug them in.
- The de-icers contain an automatic thermostat that turns on and off just below 40°.
- There is no problem putting the de-icers in plastic containers, they do not get hot enough to melt anything but ice.
- The deicers MUST be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit. This is not hard to do. If you do not have a GFCI protected outlet nearby you can pick up a GFCI extension cord or an outlet adapter like this.
The Farm Innovators 500W De-Icers have been very reliable and trouble free for us. All of the units still work after years of use. (I haven’t used them this year yet) These units are highly rated at 4.7 stars out of 5. So unless you enjoy breaking ice out of water buckets in the freezing cold, I would definitely recommend Farm Innovators’ de-icers.
Gilmour Pro Commercial 3/4″ Garden Hose Review
Here is the best garden hose we have ever used:
Many alpaca ranches have a hose bibb in every pasture. That is ideal! However, we have to use hoses to water our 11 different pens. Over the years we have purchased many different brands of garden hose. One brand stands out, Gilmour. Most of our Gilmour hoses were purchased 15 years ago or so and are starting to show their age. But 15+ years of daily use; amazing!
- The large 3/4 inch hose has great flow even when two 100 footers are hooked together.
- Double-reinforced rubber-and-vinyl construction makes this a very durable hose. I have never had one delaminate or split.
- With a 500PSI burst strength, I’ve never had a blowout or a bubble, or even a hole.
- This hose is tough enough to drag all over the property for many years.
- The Gilmour Pro commercial hose is stiffer than most. Toughness has a cost.
- While my Gilmour hoses don’t kink easily, they do crack and eventually fail when I leave them hanging through a wire fence. You’d think I’d learn…
I’ve never had a better hose. While I’m careful with all of the hoses not to run them over with anything, or pull on them when they are looped over themselves, all of my other hoses fail. Age? Hot Sun? I don’t know. My experience with the Gilmour Pro hoses has been very good. It’s likely yours will be as well.
We also have an emergency water supply…
…Are we paranoid or what? I call it ‘peace of mind’. The power here isn’t the most reliable. No power: no well water. What we have here is an emergency water reservoir. Sands calls it a swimming pool, so I play along. I consider it a vital piece of alpaca farm equipment!
This Intex pool came in handy when our well pump failed.
We first set this pool up around 2010 and moved it here and there until we settled on the right spot. My suggestion is to find the perfect place first and never have to move it again.
The pool liner is very tough, but between moving the pool and also washing it out in the driveway it developed a couple of holes. Fortunately, the holes were small and very easy to patch, even when underwater.
My new trick for cleaning the pool out in spring is to drain it and let it completely dry out and then just sweep up the crud. No need to move or disassemble anything.
This year we had to replace the pump and skimmer. The pump pooped out from old age and the skimmer bracket developed cracks from the sun. It was used a lot!
- When the Intex pool is 90% filled it holds 4440 gallons. That’s a pretty good buffer for emergencies.
- The triple laminate material the pool is made from is very tough stuff.
- When the ground is properly prepared, this pool is very easy to put up. Intex claims you can do it in 45 minutes. If you don’t count the ground prep or the actual fill time, 45 minutes is about right.
- Two safety features ensure the pool legs don’t move and cause trouble: a wide band bonded to the pool with slots for the legs and also a rope around the bottom of the legs at the ground, also through loops bonded to the pool.
- Sure is a lot of fun…
- A lot of care must be used in preparing the ground prior to installation. If the ground is not flat and level you’ll have problems not only with assembly but the safety is compromised. The ground under the pool must be free of sticks, rocks, tree roots, and anything that can puncture the bottom. When I’m done with the ground preps I put down a double layer of old billboards that was used to cover the hay bales.
- The other problem I have is covering the pool to keep leaves and dirt out. It gets so windy here that nothing holds up. Haven’t solved that problem yet. Any ideas?
Superior Pump 1/5 HP Submersible Utility Pump, 91025 [review]
To make my emergency water supply useful I use a submersible pump that has a fitting for a garden hose. This came in handy one time when the well pump failed and it took a few days to get a new one See, paranoia pays off…
What’s the easiest way to get water out of the pool? Buckets, siphon, or use the pool drain fitting? Nah, pump the water out.
This pump is very easy to use; just tie some bailing twine on the handle, connect the garden hose and lower the pump into the pool. Plug it in and the water flows…
- Very easy to use; there are no adjustments or switches, just plug it in.
- This pumps lots of water, 1560 gallons per hour if you’re not pumping uphill. The GPH drops to 840 if you pump up 10 feet.
- This pump has never plugged up even when pumping some gunk off of the pool bottom during spring cleanings.
- The output of this pump drops off a lot if you have to pump up more than 5 or 10 feet. You may need a larger pump. The 1/3 hp model for instance pumps 1680 GPH at 10 feet.
This pump has never let me down. Makes for easier and much faster pool draining, and of course is a back-saver when your normal water supply isn’t available. I’ve even rigged up a shower with it one time… Superior pumps rate at 4.5 out of 5. If you think you may need a pump, definitely check out Superior Pumps.
Ah, but what happens when the power goes out? For that, we have a generator. Actually, a generator is also good when an outlet is not nearby or easily accessible. This generator is big enough to run almost anything household related, including the well pump with some wiring modifications. The generator is always standing by on shearing days. That would be a very bad time to lose power!
One more thing, the the most usability, make sure you get a generator with wheels so you don’t have to drag it around!
How about alpaca farm security?
Outdoor HD960p WiFi IP Camera]
Ranch layout is an important consideration. For instance, here we have no gates from any pen or pasture that opens to an unfenced area. Every gate opens to another fenced area and exterior gates from these areas are locked.
We can see all of the exterior gates and most of the interior spaces with this… This camera does it all; up, down, left, right. zoom in or out and with night vision. Very nice!
You can control all of this from your mobile device from anywhere or just use your home computer. If you have blind spots, you can add more of these cameras and choose the camera view with the phone app.
Now the important stuff; poop scooping!
This is the alpaca farm equipment you’ll need second!
I know a LOT about this…
To keep the alpacas healthy and happy daily manure removal is a must. If you are running them on very large acreage this could be impractical. To break parasite life cycles and to keep flies down, regular poop scooping is necessary. Here are my tools of the trade. The wheelbarrow; you will find the two wheels are a huge help on hilly or uneven ground. A big bucket minimizes trips back and forth.
To get the “goods” into the wheelbarrow I use this. This shovel holds a lot more than a regular shovel but not so much that you can’t lift it.
To help load up the shovel I use this little shrub rake:
Do you want to be known as someone who has their poop together? Then this is the rake you need:
You now have the basic equipment needed for your alpaca poop removal and exercise program.
As I say “business is picking up”…
To Be Continued…..