A friend of ours has an alpaca farm and has offered us fresh manure for our home vegetable garden. They say that alpaca manure can be used fresh, but I see a lot of information telling me that it needs to be composted for safety purposes. Who is right? Thank you!
Fayette County Kentucky
Thanks for contacting Ask Extension, this is an interesting question! I've searched similar questions for alpaca manure (beans) in the Extension data base as well as online. A majority of these recommend composting prior to use. The concern here is pathogens such as salmonella and e. coli. which would be destroyed during the temperatures reached by composting. This is the safe approach, especially for a vegetable garden. A general rule for composting is that the compost should not be used if the original material for the compost is still identifiable! Composted alpaca manure is an excellent amendment for the soil. HO-75, home composting, may be found here: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho75/ho75.pdf
The literature also notes that alpaca manure is lower in carbon content and when applied directly (without composting) is less likely to 'burn' the plants than cow, pig or horse manures. One response noted that in a well-irrigated field, the alpaca beans were still visible after two seasons; this seems long, yet possible. Since the Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratios are low (about 1.5:2:1), additional fertilizer may be needed and you might wish to get a soil test to know what your bed requires.
This link gives a short summary you may find useful: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/fertilizing-alpaca-manure-86093.html and you may find interesting: Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association http://www.alpacainfo.com/#home. The lower nutrient value is here: http://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/organicfertilizer2013.html .
Since I recommend composting prior to use on a vegetable garden soil, I've mostly referenced links supporting that viewpoint. With a web search 'alpaca manure' you can find the opposite viewpoint, those these are fewer.
I hope this helps!