HUSBANDRY

KEEPING ALPACAS

Alpacas are relatively low maintenance animals to keep. All routine husbandry tasks can be carried out on site and without the need for vet intervention. The main necessary tasks are outlined below:

  • Daily checks: these should be carried out once or twice a day. During feeding time is ideal to take a walk round the herd and look out for any noticeable differences with any of your animals, for example an alpaca which isn’t eating, has moved away from the herd, has any noticeable injuries or is displaying any abnormal behaviour. Pregnant females will require more regular checks once they have reached 10 months gestation. We strongly advise calling a vet sooner rather than later if ever in any doubt as to the health and wellbeing of your animal. Alpacas are hardy animals and will often hide illness or injury right up until they are in a lot of pain.

  • Health checks: It is advisable carry out further health checks to the whole herd every 1-2 weeks. These checks can be carried out in the paddock, in a field shelter or indoors if you have access to a barn or similar facilities. These checks are an opportunity to get to know your alpacas really well, and for them to get to know you! An alpaca will being to trust you the more you handle it, and handle it well. During these checks it is important to check around the eyes (for any signs of injury or infection), under the jaw line for any lumps/abscess’, under the tail, around the ears and their feet.

  • Bodyscoring: to be carried out monthly during routine health checks. Between your finger and thumb you will need to have a feel of the alpaca’s mid-back, half way from the neck to the tail. A score is then given based on how prominent the back bone is. This will tell you whether the alpaca is in ideal body condition, underweight or overweight. We are happy to explain this further and demonstrate.

  • Hipravit ADE injections: these are administered to every 6 weeks from September to April. In their native countries of Peru, Bolivia and Chile alpacas are exposed to very high levels of natural sunlight, however here during the winter in the U.K. they do not receive the same levels so require vitamin D to supplement this.

  • Toenail trimming 2-3 times a year

  • Shearing: carried out in Spring by a professional shearer whom we can put you in touch with. Shearing is also an ideal time for the alpacas teeth to be checked over and trimmed if necessary.

  • Worming: Anti-worming medications are required for alpacas and can be given orally in the form of a drench.

Cria vaccinations: crias require certain medications at each month of age up until they reach 6 months and are weaned off their mothers.