Alpaca Care

Alpacas can be very easy to maintain and care for with a few very simple routine checks and products, as long as their basic needs are met they will thrive in any situation, the key is to know your situation, your micro climate, what affects that may have on your alpaca and potentially what you are lacking.

Australia is a very diverse country and I can say from experience that how you care for your alpacas if you live north of Brisbane is different how you approach alpaca care if you are west of Brisbane, so it pays to know what you're up against. 

There is so much helpful information on many alpaca websites, all valuable, all from years of experience and you can never beat a bit of research and being prepared but you don't want to overwhelm yourself with too much information and what sometimes points to dire situations as some information is for those that do have a problem and are in need of specific help.

The main issues facing us are mineral deficiencies, worms, paralysis ticks and dogs (usually domestic), anything else I do recommend you call your vet, if your local vet doesn't have great alpaca (or camelid) knowledge but are eager to help please get them to consult with Dr. Malcolm at Dayboro UQ vets and he will be able to advise your vet of the best course of action for your alpaca.

Deficiencies

The most common deficiencies are selenium and vitamin D.

I have found my animals are able to maintain healthy levels of vitamins and minerals by giving Anitone in their drinking water which is such a simple, no fuss way of continually providing your herd with their trace elements. My herd has never been as healthy and strong as they are now and its down to the Anitone (available from must produce stores); there are also some other great products very similar in nature, one is produced by TNN which you can buy from a local rep, or Nutrimol which is also found in most produce stores. This is a product every alpaca keeper must have.

You can overdose your alpaca by giving too much selenium but a selenium deficiency does cause issues like abortions, still born cria, infertility, ill health and even death if left untreated; A yearly dose of Selovin usually administered at shearing will keep your alpaca at a good level. Selovin is a long acting selenium product and also is used in combination with fast acting selenium to combat deficiency but you need to do blood tests to monitor how deficient your alpaca is and how they are improving and once they are back up to their normal range its about maintaining that level, which is 10 times that of a sheep or cow and Australia is notoriously deficient in Selenium. So selenium deficiency is a simple but not always obvious illness to rule out if you are experiencing difficulties like this with your alpacas.

Vitamin D deficiency is actually one that you can see, if you notice your alpaca is developing am 'arched' spine and is becoming humped or hunched or the legs are becoming crooked at the joints, this could be a sign of deficiency or onset of rickets other symptoms can be ill thrift often caused by pain, stiff movements and moving slowly. 

Administering Hideject Vitamin AD&E along with cofota or cophos B (Phosphorus and phosphorus with B vitmains) helps the body better absorb the Vitamins and will better aide with recovery. The severity of the condition depends on how many subsequent doses will need to be administered.

Paralysis ticks

These pesky pests are by far the worst things I've had to combat against. Even if you have not had ticks in the past they can move into your area as the winters become warmer, they are not dying of to the extent they used to so it pays to be vigilant.

Luckily tick collars can be used on alpacas with great success and its great for little herd but the more alpacas you have obviously it can become a very expensive exercise.

Other preventative measures can be taken such as keeping your pasture low with not to much scrub, preventing wild animals from entering your property, breaking the life cycle of the ticks with pesticides but you have to manage your alpacas carefully when using any chemicals.

There are great sprays made for livestock, I believe horse products are the best for alpacas (as no product is specifically made for alpacas) such as permoxin and tac tick, these are sprayed onto the alpaca periodically to deter ticks from latching on.

Other injectables like cydectin do work brilliantly but the administration of too many chemicals to fight one pest can have adverse reactions, too much drench can lead to 'drench resistance' and worms can then become a major issue and also birth abnormalities have been linked to the toxic chemicals found in drenches.

And of course check your animals as often as you can, although ticks can hide and burrow within your alpacas fleece, they do actually struggle to move through the fleece so carefully looking under the tail where there is minimal fleece but is warm and hidden, on the face, under the chin and in the ears and in the groins are actually the most common places ticks do latch on.

Worms