Now that August is coming to an end and we head into autumn, it is worth reflecting back on the year so far, as well as preparing ahead for the next season. Now is a fantastic opportunity to complete some pre-autumnal husbandry during your monthly health check for your alpacas.
The first step is body scoring your alpacas to check their overall health. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out this short 10-minute video from veterinary camelid specialist Claire Whitehead. Keep a record of the body score so you can track your alpacas’ progress.
We recommend checking your alpacas’ toenails a few times per year. This normally happens during shearing, so checking them again during autumn and then at the start of the following year is a good routine to follow. It is worth noting that some alpacas will need their toenails trimmed more regularly; particularly white or grey alpacas.
Carry out an examination for internal and external parasites. Most veterinary surgeries offer faecal sample analysis to check for internal parasites, whilst checking the skin, fleece and itching behaviours which can indicate external parasites. It is vitally important that if one alpaca shows signs of parasites, you need to treat the whole herd to reduce the risk of reinfection. If your herd is located in a low-lying or wet area, don’t forget to talk to your vet about fluke vaccinations.
Administering a preventative clostridial vaccine on a bi-annual basis, during the autumn and spring, is highly recommended to protect your alpacas from Clostridial Disease. Young cria can join in with the adult routine once they have received their initial vaccines and boosters.
Shelters & Mucking Out
Although alpacas are used to the cold, we still suggest providing them with a shelter so that they can hide away during extreme weather conditions. Make sure that you have sufficient shelter space for your herd and that it is in good condition before the autumn season. If it has been used over the summer, muck out the shelter and start afresh with new substrate; this helps reduce the risk of parasites and keeps your alpacas comfortable and clean.
Feeding will need to be increased in the autumn, so it is a good idea to ensure you have sufficient supplies of feed concentrate, as well as adequate stores of hay and straw. Vitamin paste also needs to be administered to cria and adults from October, so make sure you have ordered enough – it is notoriously difficult to get hold of when you need it most!
Last but not least, it is vitally important to keep your health records up to date; this allows you to track your alpacas’ health on a regular basis. Make sure you register any applicable cria with the British Alpaca Society too!
Disclosure: We are not veterinary professionals. You should seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding the correct vaccinations to use for your herd.
Expert Advice from Fostings Alpacas
Fostings Farm, located in beautiful mid-Wales, is home to our small herd of friendly alpacas; consisting of stud males, breeding females and young crias. We offer valuable guidance and support to fellow alpaca owners, as well as welcoming visitors who are considering keeping alpacas to come and see our beautiful herd.
If you require any further advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We wish you the best of luck on your alpaca journey!