At CVS we offer a range of alpaca services including:
- Farm visits or consultations
- Emergency visits and assistance
- Parasite / worm control and Faecal Egg Counts
- Vaccination advice
- Surgical procedures (castrations)
- Nutritional advice
- Flock disease investigations
We are happy to travel for large animal appointments in and around the Central West and are available 24 hours for alpaca emergencies.
It’s essential alpacas receive the same protection as sheep and cattle against the following clostridial diseases: tetanus, blackleg, pulpy kidney, black disease and malignant oedema.
5 in1 vaccination will provide the necessary immunity and CVS vets recommend using the same dose rate and vaccination schedule as for cattle.
Internal and external parasites
Alpacas are susceptible to cattle, goat and sheep intestinal parasites, in particular Barber’s Pole, Small Brown Stomach worm (Ostertagia), Black Scour Worm (Trichostrongylus) and liver fluke (they prefer grazing in moist, low areas).
Alpacas urinate and defecate in specific areas and then avoid these while grazing. This helps minimise exposure to worm eggs but remember – if alpacas are grazed with sheep, cattle or goats they will ingest worm eggs from elsewhere in the paddock.
Note there are currently no drenches available that are registered for use in alpacas.
Please contact us and speak with our vets – the use of sheep drenches in alpacas can be administered, but only under the direction of a veterinarian. It’s essential alpaca owners discuss with a veterinarian the dose rates and administration relevant to their flock.
As in sheep, CVS recommends the routine use of alpaca faecal egg counts (FEC) to monitor worm burdens and drench efficacy.
Alpacas have their own lice species – seek veterinary advice if you suspect your flock has an infestation. Fly strike generally doesn’t occur in alpacas and mulesing is not required. Alpacas don’t grow hair fibres in the perianal area and their fleece is not greasy as is sheep wool. Their method of urinating and defaecating (by crouching), also keeps this area clean.
Vitamin D deficiency
This is one condition more commonly seen in alpacas than in other livestock.
Vitamin D is critical in maintaining circulating levels of calcium and is essential for healthy bone growth. Deficiency in young growing animals can lead to rickets (milk does not contain vitamin D).
Vitamin D supplementation (by injection), especially during the winter months, is a routine part of alpaca and llama management in the Cowra district. Note that excess Vitamin D can cause serious, even fatal, toxicity – speak first with CVH vets about the need for supplementation in your situation, the best available products and the correct dose rates.
Alpacas need to have shearing completed annually.
Digestive tract and nutrition
Ruminants (sheep, cattle, goats) have 4 stomachs, alpacas have 3.
Adapted to a high fibre diet, alpacas are primarily grazers and eat around 2% of their body weight daily. While they prefer high quality, short pastures they are highly adaptable grazers in dry periods and it’s estimated they are up to 30% more efficient grazers than sheep and goats. Their DSE is similar or better, despite being significantly heavier than sheep (females average 70kg, males 85kg).
Unlike cattle, they are resistant to bloat and, as well as the difference in stomachs to ruminants, the lips of alpacas are quite unique. The upper lip is split, allowing each side of the lip to move independently and the alpaca to be selective about its choice of food. Alpacas don’t use their tongue to grasp food as, for example, cattle do and they can’t lick to groom or lick mineral and other supplement blocks.
Unlike the oestrus cycles of cattle and sheep that govern mating and breeding, alpacas are non-seasonal breeders and demonstrate year-round sexual activity, with prolonged periods when mating takes place. Ovulation is not spontaneous, and occurs as a result of mating.
Alpaca pregnancies last on average 342 days.