In making sure I’m totally ready for anything about alpacas, I had to wonder how they do with horses – just in case our future alpacas want to hang out with the neighbor’s horses. Can alpacas live with horses?
Alpacas may be able to share a pasture with horses if temperaments and numbers allow, and if safety is considered. The biggest safety concerns are usually related to feeding and watering the animals. As such precautions are intensive, it’s generally recommended to keep alpacas and horses separate.
So even though keeping horses and alpacas isn’t generally common, it could still happen. Which means that maybe my alpacas could hang out with the neighbor’s horses after all – if we did it smart.
Alpacas Can Live with Horses in Some Instances
There are some instances when horses and alpacas can live together. Generally, this is when there are smaller quantities of animals and maybe even smaller spaces involved. Even so, there needs to be enough space so that each animal can back away when they feel threatened. And we only need to pasture animals that can handle this together – we certainly wouldn’t want to pasture an aggressive animal with any others.
So, here are the considerations you need to weigh before you pasture horses with alpacas.
- What is the temperament of each animal – both the alpacas and the horses?
- What quantity of animals are we talking about keeping in a pasture together – and how many of both species? Make sure you consult with your local zoning laws or codes for how many animals you can keep.
- What is your personal threshold for risk or risk aversion? If you are completely risk-averse, it’s far safer to pasture horses and alpacas separately – you could rotate them through pastures easily. Or if you’re willing to accept some risk, then pasturing the animals together could have an amazing return on overall animal happiness levels. Or not.
- How will you control the parasite load in both species? There is some cross-sharing of parasites between horses and alpacas that can be problematic.
- How will you handle feeding the animals? Will you be able to keep feed or supplements away from the other species (if needed)?
- How will you ensure that all animals have sufficient access to the watering areas? Will any single animal try to dominate it and cause a ruckus for all of the others?
- What kinds of shelter will you have available? Will that be a singular shelter or multiple?
- Will the pasture-sharing animals be limited to one sex – or will there be both male and female animals in the pasture?
- Are the males (of either species) intact – or have they been castrated?
- Will there be attempts at breeding – either within a species or between the two?
- What kind of fencing will you use? Horses and alpacas have different requirements for safe fencing – and you may need to have multiple layers to keep both safely fenced within their pastures.
If there are more horses than 2-3, though, the risk of flying hooves becomes much greater – and so does the risk of an alpaca getting kicked by accident. And most farmers aren’t willing to risk their animal’s life to see how that goes – so that’s where I’ve found the general cutoff to be.
Do Alpacas Make Good Companions for Horses?
Based on my research in farm forums and in talking with farmers, I’ve found that alpacas and horses can be great companions – if they’re so inclined. A popular option is to do daytime pasture sharing. This usually works best if we’re talking about a maximum of 1-2 horses and up to several alpacas.
Kind of like in this video proof that it’s possible – that I found on YouTube.
If you’ve got a horse with a known attitude problem, it might be worth trying to pasture them with some calm alpacas as companions. Just be sure to keep a close eye on things – so that you can make changes as needed.
How to Keep Horses and Alpacas Together
To keep horses with alpacas, there really needs to be plenty of space. That way, if the alpacas are feeling iffy about things, they can run off. So having them share a small, backyard-sized pasture is probably not recommended. Instead, you’re going to need at least an acre or more to safely pasture them together.
Some of the farmers I talked to – or read their posts on farming forums – said that they only tried pasture-sharing between horses and alpacas on at least 5-10 acres. And on those 5-10 acres, there are up to several feed and water stations – and multiple 3-sided shelters in case of a surprise storm.
If having that kind of a setup isn’t possible (or doable), that’s okay – you can still keep both animals – just keep them separate.
When to Keep Alpacas and Horses Separate
If you’re at all worried about any of the considerations we talked about earlier in this article (especially space), that’s okay – you can keep both animals. You’ll just need to make sure you keep them separate.
Some of the easier ways to do this is by building separate pastures, paddocks, and sheltered areas where the animals can hang out. Then, you can either assign each animal its own areas – or you could set up a pasture rotation.
In this case, have the alpacas open up the pasture. This is because they’ll use a communal dung heap – leaving the rest of the pasture fairly poop (and parasite) free. It’ll just be that one area that’s potentially a parasite feast.
Then, rotate the alpacas to the next pasture area and move the horses into the pasture vacated by the alpacas. The horses should steer clear of the alpaca poop – or you could remove it fairly easily if it’s a concern.
After it’s time to rotate pastures again, move the horses on to the next pasture (again, the one the alpacas just vacated) and let this first pasture lay fallow to reduce the parasite load before reopening it to the alpacas.
Do Alpacas and Horses Get Along?
Per my research, horses and alpacas can get along, yes. However, there’s some definite room for things to get dicey. So make sure you keep a close watch on any animals that are being kept together for the first time. That way, if there is a problem you can separate them quickly and hopefully avoid any serious issues.
What Other Animals Can Be Kept Together?
If keeping your alpacas and horses together no longer intrigues you, that’s okay. Do what’s best for your animals. And there are other options for pasture-sharing with alpacas.
Here are some other options you could consider – and we’ve got complete guides and articles for each of these, so you’re good to go with all of the information and research done for you.
You can keep alpacas with:
- Cows – click here to read about keeping cows and alpacas together.
- Goats – based on my research, this could be your best bet. So click here to read that article.
- Sheep and lambs – alpacas can actually guard sheep and lambs, so this could be a fantastic choice. Click here to read what my research showed on keeping alpacas with lambs (and sheep).
- Chickens – keeping alpacas with chickens could work – and it’s one of the pairings where the risk to your alpacas is lowest. So click here to read about keeping chickens and alpacas together.
Keeping multiple animals together isn’t usually recommended if you’ve got plenty of space. But in a backyard homestead type of a scenario, space is usually limited to whatever’s available in the backyard. So, you have to get a little bit more creative if you want to have more livestock.
In our case, we’ve currently got chickens and goats sharing a pasture – and it’s working quite well. We plan to add alpacas to the mix – but only after we’ve taken some massive precautions to help ensure it’s a safe, healthy, and positive experience for everyone (human and animal alike) involved.
Can Llamas Live with Horses? Llamas could probably do better living with horses than alpacas would, simply due to natural differences in size and temperament. If there are safety concerns, it’s always best to keep the animals in separate pastures.
What Animals Can Live with Alpacas? Alpacas may live with other alpacas or they could be pastured with goats, chickens, or other kinds of livestock. For more information on specific pairings, read our articles on each of these as listed earlier in this article.
Can Alpacas Be Kept Alone? Alpacas are a herd animal that requires company. In some instances, they could be kept inside as a pet. Read our article on keeping alpacas indoors as pets for more information and/or our complete guide to how many alpacas you need to get.
Cite this article as: “Can Alpacas Live with Horses?” Backyard Homestead HQ, 3 June 2020, backyardhomesteadhq.com/can-alpacas-live-with-horses/.