Husbandry

Feeding

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  • Alpacas generally need water and grass in the summer, with the addition of hay in the winter months.
  • Rotate paddocks and leave free for 6 weeks before putting animals back.
  • As well as grass, alpacas require a vitamin mineral supplement eg camilibra daily.

 

General Care

  • Vaccinations:  There are many clostridial vaccines available eg covexin, lambivac – ask your vet which he would advise for your herd.  Cria are given a first dose at 6 weeks then 1 month later, then all alpacas are given the vaccine twice a year.
  • Wormers:  Ask your vet which wormer to use.  You should worm alpacas every 6 months, unless running with other animals eg goats, sheep etc, then they should be wormed more often.  Wormers are white drenches eg panacur, dectomax.
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  • Toe-nail trimming:  Regularly check your alpaca’s toe-nails.  The white alpacas’ toe-nails seem to grow quicker than the blacks’.  Trim nails with clippers so that the nail doesn’t protrude past the toe and when the foot is on the ground, the nail lies flat.
  • Teeth: Teeth can protrude in front of the flat hard upper pad and then they need trimming.  This can be done at shearing time.  If left, it can cause difficulty when grazing.  Concerning male alpacas, at 4 years of age, the fighting teeth need to be trimmed down to gum level, as males tend to fight to gain dominancy and, if they are not trimmed back, can do serious damage to another alpaca.
  • Illness:  Alpacas are hardy animals and do not tend to show signs of illness until the very late stages, so it is important to check animals daily so that you know their normal behaviour and then, have more chance of seeing small changes that could mean that something is wrong.  If you are unsure at any time consult your vet.
  • Condition Scoring and Weighing:  It is important at least once a month to weigh your animal and body score your alpacas.  To do this, run your hand down the back bone, about 8” from the neck.  If the spine protrudes then the alpaca is probably underweight and, if you can’t feel the spine, it is probably overweight!