A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

February 2, 2009

What a lovely hat!

Rose Marie in her lovely hay hat

Rose Marie in her lovely hay hat


That’s our Rose Marie wearing the latest in alpaca headgear – the hay hat.

As fetching as Rose Marie’s “hat” looks it is something we try to avoid.   The hay on her head will at some point fall off and then possibly land on the blanket area of her fleece or another alpaca.

We do our best to keep our fleeces as free from vegetable matter as possible, it makes preparing the fleeces for show or processing so much easier, and processors do not like to deal with fleece laden with vegetable matter.  Once in the fleece the vegetable matter can shatter making it almost impossible to remove.  If the processor tries to process the fleece with a large amount of vegetable matter still in place it will result in a yarn that has a prickly, harsh feel to it.

In an effort to keep the vegetable matter under control we built our hay feeders so that they are only a few feet off the ground.  This encourages the alpacas to keep their heads down as they eat, rather than to take mouthfuls of hay and then pick their heads up.  With their heads up the alpacas look around and inevitably drop hay on the nearest alpaca contaminating that alpacas fleece.

Further steps we take to protect our fleeces is to put heavy duty wire grids on top of the hay in the hay feeders to help keep the hay in the feeder, plus we put Matilda Sheep covers on some of our alpacas to keep their fleeces out of the wind and fine sand that we have, particularly the young crias with their extra fine fleeces.

 Rose Marie’s “hat” came about on one of the colder days we recently experienced.  We mixed a little alfalfa in with the rest of the hay and the alfalfa leaves dropped to the bottom of the hay feeders.  Rose Marie is particularly fond of alfalfa and in an effort to make sure she didn’t miss out on a single one of the sweet alfalfa leaves she dug deep in the hay feeder and when she lifted her head she was wearing her fetching hat.  We had needed to remove the wire grid from that particular hay feeder that day making it easy for Rose Marie to get her head into the hay and forage for alfalfa leaves.

When it comes to clean fleeces we keep in mind the phrase “clean pastures, clean fleeces” and do our best to reduce the chances for things to get into the alpacas fleeces.  Fortunately the hay Rose Marie had on her head that day was easily removed out of harms way – and rapidly eaten by another alpaca!



  1. Rosemary,

    What about heat using these?

    Comment by Susan Frank — February 3, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

    • Hi Susan,

      The fleece covers are made of a breathable material and so should not cause a problem in the heat. When we sheared last year I remember one day that was particularly hot and the one alpaca that was wearing a cover in the group that day was markedly cooler than those without the covers. Having said that we typically leave the covers off until September when things start to cool off a little. Those few months without the fleece cover don’t seem to result in too much vegetable matter getting into the fleeces although of course the dirt does still get in.

      Hope that helps.


      Comment by alpacalady — February 4, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

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