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Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Advantages of a DIRT BARN FLOOR. (LaCroix Alpacas)

LaCroix Alpacas farm: 1870 bank barn.

LaCroix Alpacas farm: 1870 bank barn.

LaCroix Alpacas has a large bank barn with a ground-level dirt floor for its alpacas. I like that dirt floor, and the passage of time has convinced me that a dirt barn floor is a pretty nice asset. However, there was a time when I thought that a dirt floor didn’t compare favorably with alternatives, such as concrete floors, stone, gravel, or sand surfaces, mats, or even wood floors. In the end, it’s simply a matter of choice, and my choice is a dirt barn floor.

WHY DIRT?

A dirt barn floor is a dry floor because it absorbs moisture easily. Because desiccation [drying] is the enemy of parasites, the immediate advantage of a dirt floor is that it is an unhealthy [i.e., too dry] environment for parasites.

There are additional advantages:

POOP AREA/POOP HOLE.

Alpacas are more inclined to poop in a specific indoor area if that area is surrounded by a low, immovable barrier, such as discarded barn beams. Over time, a “poop hole” or depression will naturally develop in the dirt of that poop area. It is this hole that freed me from removing poop from the barn on a daily basis by limiting poop removal to whenever the hole was full enough. A true labor-saving/time-saving arrangement! Since alpaca poop isn’t smelly, the accumulation of poop in the hole isn’t a concern. If it is, a thin layer of sawdust or lime sprinkled on top of the poop suffices to eliminate any odor.

Note: When a cria is born, I cover the poop hole until the cria is sure-footed; usually two to three days.

WINTER WARMTH.

A dirt floor is not excessively cold during the winter months and is easy to cover with a warming bed of hay or straw if the weather is extremely cold. In addition, the used hay or straw is easily raked away from the surface of a dirt floor.

ECONOMY.

Because all barn floor surfaces begin with a layer of dirt, there is no need to purchase the dirt that is already there.

There is a disadvantage:

When the atmosphere is very dry, raking a dirt floor will stir up dust. When this occurs, compensate by turning barn fans on at low speed so that the dust is blown away.

Although other barn floors are fine and preferred by some, I encourage alpaca owners to consider the advantages of the old-fashioned dirt barn floor for the reasons written above.