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These notes are to give you some idea of how to cope with alpaca health based on our experiences. We accept NO liability for actions taken as a result of these notes. If in doubt consult your veterinarian.
Alpacas are on the whole hardy and healthy animals that suffer from very few health problems. However like any livestock, on occasion they can be subject to ill health and disease. A regular programme of daily inspection is essential. Observation of the alpacas normal behaviour, habits and posture are invaluable guides to their well being or otherwise.
A sick alpaca is likely to spend more time sitting (kushed - see picture above) or lying stretched out and is more reluctant to get up. They will get left behind as the rest of the herd moves on and can often look hunched up and depressed.
Veterinary help should be called if there is any doubt as to the health or well being of an alpaca. Routine husbandry should include six monthly prophylactic worming and vaccination with a seven in one clostridial vaccine such as Heptavac. Suitable wormers are those based on ivermectin or fenbendazole and all group animals should be treated at the same time. Ivermectin products will have the extra advantage of also treating some external parasites. Worming efficiency can be monitored by arranging for egg counts on fresh dung samples. Over use of these product are believed to lead to immunity to them. The advice of your veterinarian should be sought at all times.
Nail trimming should be done as needed but generally three to five times a year. Most alpacas will need shearing annually during which time attention can be given to the trimming of teeth, if required.
Cria should be vaccinated at four weeks and a booster given at eight weeks. From then they should fall into the regular schedule of the adult herd. Worming of cria is normally commenced at weaning. Late born cria can be given A, D and E vitamin boosters in the autumn as a precaution against rickets. Diarrhoea or excessive scouring, especially in young cria, can be fatal if not treated quickly and veterinary assistance should be sought immediately should this occur.
Bluetongue is a new disease to the UK that can affect alpacas. There is a vaccine obtainable from your veterinarian.
When vaccinating/worming it is advisable to separate each medication by at least two weeks
Alpacas can suffer fly strike. Be aware, that close inspection is needed if any alpaca is reluctant to move during the fly season. Heavily fleeced animals should have their fibre trimmed around the tail and down the rear legs to avoid faeces and urine contamination.