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All about Alpacas

4 May 2021 11:26 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

Do you have an alpaca or two? Would you like more information on how to care for them? Perhaps you inherited a few when you purchased your small farm. This webinar with Dr Lou Baskind is about the basic care and management of alpacas and was recorded on the 3 March 2021.

You can view the YouTube recording of the webinar here.

Summary

1.      Alpacas have a digestive system similar but not the same as other ruminants such as cattle. Alpacas have three stomachs and they chew their cud. Alpacas are more efficient at digesting low quality feed than other ruminants and have a lower risk of bloat compared to cattle. BUT that does not mean that you don’t have to watch what they eat. Alpacas have a requirement for long stemmed grass at all times for their gut to work efficiently. Pregnant and lactating females (called hembras) have a higher requirement for energy and protein. If there is a lot of green grass you might want to consider supplementing them with low quality feed for fibre.

Body condition scoring of alpacas

2.      Alpacas must have a at least one companion otherwise they will fret. Alpacas have very strong herding instincts and need the companionship of other alpacas to thrive, it is best to provide each alpaca with a companion alpaca of the same gender.

3.      Alpacas have a strong instinct to bond with other grazing herd animals and this has resulted in the growing use of wethered adult male alpacas or adult females as sheep and goat flock guardians. They have a strong instinct to fend off dogs and foxes to protect their flock.

4.      Vitamin D deficiency – because alpacas come from high altitudes, even in Australia they can suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Crias (baby alpacas up to the age of 3) are most at risk of the disease.  Prevention is the easiest treatment; you can do this by shearing the alpacas and by giving them a vitamin D injection every year. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause problems with calcium absorption.

5.      Alpacas are susceptible to worms and liver fluke. These parasites are best controlled by integrated worm management, with consideration given to regular worm testing, creating worm free paddocks and targeted use of drenches.

Resources

Worms and alpacas

CRIA Genesis Website - A comprehensive website about alpacas.

Low stress animal handling

Tocal College Alpaca Ag Skills

Australian Alpaca Association 

This webinar was made possible through funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through it’s Every Bit Counts Project and with in-kind support from South East Local Land Services Vet Dr Lou Baskind.

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Small Farms Network Capital Region Inc
PO Box 313
Bungendore
NSW 2621

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