Ashwood Farm, Rookery Lane, Hinton, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 8HL
A cria at Ashwood Alpacas
Supreme Champion Czar at Ashwood Alpaca
Alpacas for sale at Ashwood Alpacas
Alpaca with 14.5 micron fleece

ALPACA HUSBANDRY

Check your stock
Alpacas should ideally be checked at least twice a day. First thing in the morning and late afternoon are the ideal times.The best way to do this is to walk quietly though your herd looking for any signs of unusual behavior ( eg one alpaca sitting or separated from the herd  for long periods when the rest of the herd has moved on ). The more familiar you become with each of your alpacas the easier and quicker this will become and the more likely that you will pick up any problems at an early stage . Look out for obvious things like brambles caught in the fleece but also for unusual things like fly strike (very rare -but has been heard of ).

As a general rule , whenever handling your alpacas ,you should do so quietly, gently and patiently. Talking to them in a reassuring tone also helps. This will help alpacas that are intially nervous and unapproachable(doesn't apply to ours!) to become relaxed in your presence.

General Health
Alpacas are generally extremely hardy and adapt well to most conditions. A good indication of health is body temperature and respiratory rate , NB  They breathe alot faster in the summer when the temperature is hot .

Body temperature should be 37.5 to 38.5 degrees Celsius - Adult
Body temperature should be 37.75 to 39 degrees Celsius - Cria

Body scoring - Can be used to assess the condition of your alpaca. Commonly a  0-5 scale is used to describe an alpaca on a scale of thin to obese. 2.5 to 3.0 being optimum to breed, 5 being obese.

Feeding
Alpacas need access to:

  • Clean water
  • Good pasture
  • Hay(especially in winter-but all year round as it helps regulate their
  • rumen- as they are ruminants)
  • Some form of camelid mix- we use Camelid Complete(as our suppier)
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements- if required
  • We give our weanling crias a vitamin A,D and E in late Autumn and early
  • Spring to promote strong bone formation.

Vaccinations
These help prevent clostridial diseases and are given either sem-annually or annually.We use Covexin 8 (given annually)
Check the instructions given with your vaccine as it can often be necessary to give a booster jab 4-6 weeks after the primary injection.

Wormers
Inject with wormer at dose appropriate to approximate body weight every 6 months .Several drenches do exist for those who do not want to inject their alpacas.
Injectable wormers e.g. Dectomax or Cydectin.
Drenches e.g. Panacur or Valbazan and possibly Fasinex if you farm in a fluke area.
Please speak to your vet about the most appropriate one for your herd.

Footcare
Toenail trimming should ideally be done about 4 times a year-possibly less if your alpacas have access to hard standing.

Teeth care
Alpacas only have teeth in their lower jaw at the front of their mouths-which bite onto a hard palate in the upper jaw . Trimming /grinding is done at shearing time ( please ask your shearer if this needs doing) in order to ensure your alpaca can eat properly . In addition ,both male and female alpacas develop fighting teeth  as they mature. In males, these should be removed to prevent injuries from fighting. Again, please ask your shearer/ vet to check if this needs to be done.

Shearing
Alpacas need to be sheared - every year for huacayas and at least every second year for suris - to provide us with wounderful fibre, but also for welfare reasons. This is best done in early Summer in a dry barn by one of the alpaca shearers who travel around the country each year.

Herd Records
Paperwork is something not normally associated with alpaca ownership, but is essential to keep records of vaccination and wormer  schedules, and useful to keep records of all other aspects of ownership. We use our own system, but there are commercial herd management systems available if you need one.

Vets
At some point in your alpacas life, it may need to see a vet. We would strongly recommend finding a large animal vet near to you - preferably with experience of camelids.

We run our herd on the basis of "if in doubt call the vet".