While researching alpacas, it’s pretty common for folks to wonder if they can live with pigs. And since nobody has done this research yet, I thought it was time I did it. So, can alpacas live with pigs?
Alpacas can be kept with pigs, although it’s generally not recommended once the pigs are fully grown. Keeping large pigs and alpacas together puts both animals at an increased risk of injury and disease. Safer options for adult animals include pasture rotation or complete separation.
But if you’ve absolutely got to keep your pigs and alpacas together, let’s make sure you’ve got all the information I found. That way, you can minimize the risks and (hopefully) have the best experience possible for your animals. And you, too!
How to Keep Pigs and Alpacas Together
Ready to see my research – and why it may be easier to keep pigs and alpacas separate? Here’s what I’ve found. Let’s go through the different animal requirements I researched by the animal – and then special considerations you’d need to keep in mind if you did choose to keep them together.
|Requirement||Alpacas||Pigs||Alpacas and Pigs Together|
|Indoor space needs (good weather)||Alpacas have big personal bubbles. Each alpaca will want its own 6’x8′ space.||Pigs need at least 8 square feet per animal, depending on breed and the available outdoor pasture space.||Ideally, try to have separated barn space for each species.|
|Indoor space needs (inclement weather)||Minimally, alpacas need a 3’x6′ space when crowding together to keep warm.||Pigs may huddle up to keep warm. Several more than usual may crowd into one stall during bad weather.||If each animal species has its own indoor area, individuals may huddle during bad weather.|
|Pasture (Basic Requirements)||Minimum 1 acre per 5 animals (for purely pasture-fed alpacas).||Minimum 400 square feet for a pasture and living space per pig. More space is better.||Less pasture is an option with appropriate supplemental feeding.|
|Shared Pasture||If alpacas have the same space, they should graze fairly evenly.||Pigs root and dig. Expect their pasture space to become, well, a pig sty.||May share pasture space if animals are regularly evaluated for cross-species parasites, diseases, and injury.|
|Rotating Pasture||Rotating pastures help the land recover in case of too-close grazing.||Pigs are less likely to develop worms and parasites with rotating pastures.||Rotating pasture space (with alpacas first and pigs second) should prevent many health issues and give pastures time to renew.|
|Minimum herd size||2 alpacas||2 pigs||2 alpacas and 2 pigs.|
|Regular Care||Tooth and hoof trimming. Annual shearing.||Hoof trimming, illness management.||Per the animal.|
|Feeding Habits||Prefer to eat pasture grass, hay, or silage.||Pigs are omnivores. They may forage and root for foliage, insects, or anything else they can kill and eat.||Usually eat different foods, so they could share the same pasture spaces.|
|Fencing requirements||Regular or “no-climb” pasture fencing appropriate for your area is fine.||Pigs are great at digging. Consider a strand of electric wire (inside the pen but not at the gate) at ground level to prevent escape.||Per the animal.|
|Supplements Required||A daily dose of grain if there’s not enough pasture grass or hay.||May need a protein rich feed if unable to forage and root for it on their own.||Animals may do better with separate stations for supplemental feeds to prevent complications.|
|Macronutrient Sensitivities||None known.||Pigs are often under-watered. They need several gallons of clean water daily.||Separate feeding stations may be preferred.|
|Poisonous plants to avoid||Bracken fern, buckwheat, ragweed, fireweed, oleander, azaleas, agave, amaryllis, crocus, bear grass, snakeweed, buttercups, orange tree foliate, carnations, castor beans, acorns||Bracken, hemlock, foxglove, cocklebur, henbane, ivy, and laburnum.||Keep known poisonous plants away from alpacas and pigs.|
|Micronutrient Copper Sensitivities||Alpacas are sensitive to too much copper.||Pigs need a high protein diet, particularly lysine content.||Keep copper supplements away from alpacas via separate feeding stations.|
|Excrement Habits||Alpacas share a communal dung heap. Alpacas will not eat near the dung heap.||Pigs usually poop near their water supply.||Keep dung away from food sources (pasture and feeders) to minimize the spread of dung-related diseases and parasites.|
|Watering Systems||Alpacas need a clean, uncontaminated watering system. A watering trough is generally sufficient.||Pigs will knock over a trough. A watering nipple and covered tank is the best watering system option for pigs.||Pigs poop near water and knock over troughs. Separate watering systems may be easier.|
|Common Parasites||May catch worms if other animals are defecating in their pasture area.||Worms and other internal parasites.||Controlling feed areas (rotating pastures or feeders) will help prevent the spread of common parasites.|
|Common Diseases||Alpacas are susceptible to dental issues, Johne’s disease, sore mouth, and other diseases – including those common to goats.||Soil-based parasites, bacterial infections, viral infections. May share viral infections with humans (flu).||Controlling feed areas (rotating pastures or feeders) will help prevent the spread of common parasites.|
|Biggest Concern with cross-species health||Sharing diseases and parasites.||Sharing diseases and parasites. Can also share several viruses (like the flu) with humans.||Dung being too close to food or water is the main concern for contamination.|
|Cystic echinococcosis (CE), which is caused by the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosis||Alpacas are susceptible to CE.||Pigs are also susceptible to CE.||Immediately quarantine sick-looking animals and have them evaluated by a veterinarian. CE can transfer to humans and other animals.|
Whew – that’s an awful lot of information all at once. Long story short, there are two pain issues with keeping pigs with alpacas: injury and disease. These two risks are enough that keeping pigs with alpacas is what I’d call a calculated risk.
Keeping Alpacas with Pigs is a Calculated Risk
Taking a calculated risk of keeping two kinds of animals together isn’t a bad thing. It can work out quite well! But the reason I use that phrasing is that the risks associated with keeping pigs with alpacas are higher than the risk of maintaining alpacas with dwarf goats or chickens. Even so, let’s dive into the pros, cons, and possible problems of keeping alpacas with pigs.
|Factor or Consideration||Pros||Cons||Most Likely Problems for Homesteaders|
|Grazing habits||Pigs and alpacas don’t eat the same things.||Pigs do significant damage to fields while “grazing” and rooting.||Pigs destroy the available grazing space unless you rotate pastures.|
|Pigs are omnivores||They’ll eat anything.||They are known to kill and eat small, young, sick, or weak animals.||There is a real risk that pigs would kill and eat baby alpacas (cria).|
|Pasture rotation||Pasture rotating helps save space without increasing the risk of parasites.||It requires significantly more space than does a single shared pasture.||Do you have enough space for rotating pastures?|
|Adult pigs are huge||That’s a lot of bacon.||They could, even accidentally, injure an alpaca. Then, they may kill and eat the injured animal.||Is this a risk you want to take?|
|Alpacas will defend their herd||If the pigs and alpacas integrate well, this will help protect younger pigs.||If the alpacas see the pigs as the threat, they could injure the pig – especially a baby pig.||Is this risk worth it to you?|
|Pigs can dig under fences||It’s less of a problem if you use an electric guide along the ground along fences.||Holes can let animals in or out – and this could include small predators.||Do you want to risk predators getting access to your livestock?|
|Diseases||There are many diseases and parasites that don’t cross between pigs and alpacas.||Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is not a reported disease, but it can pass between pigs, alpacas, other animals, and people.||You’ll need to balance worm and parasitic loads with de-worming practices, which are becoming less effective due to improper and overuse. Regular hand washing will help prevent spread of diseases from animals to your family.|
|Space||Sharing spaces safely makes it possible to have more animals.||Sharing spaces does raise the risk of parasite loads, shared diseases, and injury.||Does your local zoning and coding allow you to keep these animals in your backyard homestead?|
Really quickly, I want to draw your attention to the last point on the above table. Can you even keep pigs, per your local zoning ordinances and codes? This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed.
In my area, for example, a pig requires an acre of dedicated space per animal. This is to control better issues related to smell and neighbors complaining. At least, that’s the conclusion we drew from reading our local zoning codes and ordinances.
We don’t have a whole acre in our backyard, so pigs are officially not an option for our backyard homestead. But given how many risks it would require me to adjust to keep them with goats and alpacas? I’m just fine skipping those risks – and not raising our bacon.
Do Alpacas Get Along with Pigs?
Can pigs and alpacas get along? Why yes, yes they can. Here is an adorable video I found on YouTube of an introduction between younger pigs and a couple of alpacas. The alpacas aren’t quite sure what to make of their new porcine roommates.
So if you do want to keep pigs and alpacas together, they can get along. You’ll find much better success at keeping them together if you start while the pigs are young. Then, as the pigs grow, just keep an eye on things and adjust as needed. Ideally, make any required changes before things become a real problem.
When to Keep Pigs and Alpacas Separate
If you’re at all worried about the risks, it’s definitely best to go ahead and keep your pigs and alpacas separate.
For example, the concerns about watering systems could be a real issue for you. Alpacas prefer to drink out of a bucket or a trough. Pigs will knock those right over. Furthermore, pigs tend to defecate right next to their water supply. So your pigs will need an enclosed tank of water with a watering nipple to keep their water supply clean and safe to drink.
But what can you do to keep the alpaca’s water supply clean and safe to drink? I’ve tried researching about using watering nipples for alpacas, but so far, it looks like only baby alpacas (cria) will use nipples. And that’s if they’re bottle-fed.
This isn’t to say that you couldn’t train your alpacas to use a watering nipple and tank system. We’ve trained our goats to use this kind of system. So ostensibly an alpaca could do it, too. There just isn’t a known precedent for it at this time.
It may also be best to keep adult pigs and alpacas separately. This is especially true if you’ve got any cria (baby alpacas) in your herd. An adult pig could, accidentally or intentionally, injure or kill that small animal. And then your opportunistic omnivore may just try to, very helpfully, clean up the “mess” on its own.
As with keeping any two different species of animals together, trying to keep pigs with alpacas is a calculated risk. Depending on your situation and needs, you may decide that the risk is worth it (or not). But as you take the risk, keep an eye on things. That way, if you need to regroup and reevaluate things, you can do so before there’s a problem.
Again, our local zoning ordinances and codes prohibit us from keeping pigs. Between that and the fact that I’m legitimately allergic to pork, I’m okay without adding pigs to our backyard homestead. We’ll keep visiting the pigs at the county fair, though, because pigs are a fantastic animal. They just aren’t right for us.
Are they right for you – and for keeping with your alpacas? That’s a call you’ll have to make. And if you decide to go for it, I’d love to know how it goes. That way, I can add your insights and ideas into this article for everyone else’s benefit. Use this link to contact me.
Can Alpacas Be Kept with Horses? Alpacas may be able to pasture share with the right horses, though each animal should be checked on regularly. A horse kick could easily maim or kill the alpacas. For more information on keeping horses with alpacas, read my article here.
Can You Keep Alpacas with Chickens? Alpacas and chickens can live together, pasture share, or they can rotate pastures. To read about proper preparations and considerations, please read my article on chickens and alpacas here.
Are Alpacas Dangerous? Generally, alpacas are a safe and docile animal. Dangerous alpacas are an anomaly. To read more about alpacas, safety, and what to do if they become aggressive, read my complete guide here.
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to also learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders. 🙂
- “Alpaca.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Feb. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpaca.
- “CDC – Echinococcosis – General Information – Cystic Echinococcosis (CE) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Dec. 2012, www.cdc.gov/parasites/echinococcosis/gen_info/ce-faqs.html.
- “Common Causes of Poisoning in Pigs.” The Pig Site, 30 June 2020, thepigsite.com/articles/common-causes-of-poisoning-in-pigs.
- Hines, Elizabeth, and Michael Fournier. “Raising Small Groups of Pigs.” Penn State Extension, 7 June 2020, extension.psu.edu/raising-small-groups-of-pigs.
- McElderry-Maxwell, Jill. Keeping Alpacas with Other Livestock – Yea or Neigh? 2015, www.surinetwork.org/resources/Livestock%20with%20Alpacas%202015.pdf.
- “Pig.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 June 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig.
- Roche Cerda, Jacey. “Echinococcosis: Emerging US Public Health Threat?” ContagionLive, www.contagionlive.com/news/echinococcosis-emerging-us-public-health-threat.
- Sanchez, Elizabeth, et al. “Echinococcus Granulosus Genotypes Circulating in Alpacas (Lama Pacos) and Pigs (Sus Scrofa) from an Endemic Region in Peru.” SciELO, Institute of National Health in Lima Peru, Mar. 2012, www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0074-02762012000200019.