Alpaca & Muscovy

Clay Meadow means Clay ground at Kensmyth – mild January 2018

I always laugh inside when people, who have my address, ask what our ground is like. Meaning, is it Clay, Chalk, whatever – many do not realise that Clay Meadow the name is Clay by nature!

Much of the UK is Clay ground or a mix, only a few have free draining chalk but in reality, Clay ground is easy to work with so long as you understand how to manage and when to put in gate posts. Clay shrinks in summer when it dries out in hot weather and expands in winter when very wet.

It is that simple really, many get confused between the odd dip in the ground with a small puddle in very wet weather and “flooding.”

Clay drains as readily as the next “soil” type but more importantly does not erode. So it is far preferable for livestock such as Alpaca who do not poach the ground anyway due to their padded feet. We had Clay at our old farm and I would always choose something I know how to work with, given that we have farmed on Clay with Alpaca into our eleventh year and previously with horses also on Clay for decades previously!

Here at Kensmyth we are always doing Alpaca husbandry but also machinery work- in preparation  for the drier weather to come when we will be harrowing, natural fertilising and preparing the fields to produce their best for our livestock.

Rotational grazing is critical for Alpaca (and other livestock) and kempt topped fields with controlled buttercups/weeds that are well drained and aerated are key to their wellbeing. Alpaca “mothers to be” ie pregnant benefit greatly from good pasture in order to produce a higher milk yield for their cria (offspring). No grass – no milk, more bottle feeding.

Alpaca should, of course, have access to Hay all year round as well so keeping mould free, non damp hay is also essential. Fresh water access is key to milk production so troughs should be kept free flowing and clean at all times – winter freezes mean you have to lug the buckets daily!

Meantime – Barn stored over Winter, valuable machinery must have a Service and good greasing in preparation – in wet weather stay off the ground!