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December 12, 2011

Raising Suri Alpacas in Severe Winter Environments


Suris can thrive in harsh environments.

Suris can thrive in harsh environments.

Many people may be skeptical about raising suris in harsh winter environments because suri fleece offers less protection for the elements than that of the huacaya. Suri fiber forms a part that lies flat down the back of the animal exposing skin along the topline to the weather conditions. Suris are therefore not only exposed to the run, rain, wind and snow, but are also more susceptible to heat loss.

Although it can be a challenge, harsh weather conditions can be managed by using common sense and suris can be raised successfully in these environments. Below are some management tips to consider:

  1. Provide shelter with sufficient protection from wind and water.

  2. In the fall, acclimate suris to the barn by shutting them in at night.

  3. Close windows and doors in the windiest weather. However, always allow some ventilation. Stuffy, stale barns breed disease.

  4. Bed thickly with good quality straw and change regularly.

  5. Plan breeding to eliminate winter births. This is not only less stressful for the cria, but you will worry less as well.

  6. Feed free choice good quality grass hay, supplemented with some alfalfa in extreme cold.

Suris are remarkably hardy animals and very forgiving of the first time livestock owner. With a little common sense and daily observation from their keepers, suris do a wonderful job taking care of themselves.

Adapted from an article by Brad Sprouse from Purely Suri magazine, Summer 2003

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