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How to Treat Worms in Alpacas

Updated: Oct 22, 2023


What is Worming?

Worming refers to the act of administering medication to an animal (or human) in order to remove internal parasites such as round worm, lung worm and barber pole worm. Animals usually always have some level of worm burden but when this burden becomes too high, then worming is necessary.



How often should I worm alpacas?

Adult alpacas should be checked for worms at least twice a year in May and October when worms are at their most prevalent using a Faecal Egg Count (FEC). Whether worming is required or not will depend upon the results of the FECs. Blanket worming adult alpacas is not recommended. Cria however can be wormed at weaning, as they are more susceptible to worm burden with the stress of being separated from the dam. After that, cria can fall in with the herd testing and treatment cycle.



Why is blanket worming not a good idea?

Blanket worming is not recommended as this can lead to medication resistance (much like the over-prescription of antibiotics in humans), which can later render medicines useless. Guessing which medication to use may also render the process ineffective, as you need to choose a medication according to the type of parasite present. To determine the type of parasite present, an FEC (Faecal Egg Count) is required.



What Medication Should I Use To Worm Alpacas?

The medication you require will depend upon the type of worm present, which your vet will be able to advise on once an FEC (Faecal Egg Count) test has been carried out (see the next paragraph for further info on FECs).



How do I know if my alpacas have worms?

It is good practice to carry out routine FEC (Faecal Egg Count) at the peak worm burden times which are usually in April/May, again in October/November, but they can also be carried out in times of ill health or apparent discomfort. An FEC will determine the epg (eggs per gram) of existing worm eggs and coccidial oocysts.



Do I need to test every alpaca?

It is recommended to test a minimum of 10 alpacas or a representative 10% of your herd - whichever number is highest. If doing a representative sample, select the most vulnerable alpacas (old, underweight, growing alpacas aged 6-18 months).



How to take the sample

To collect a faecal sample, wait for the alpaca to poop and pick up 5-8 beans and place them into a zip lock plastic bag, double bag it and label it with the alpacas name and pop into a jiffy bag along with your name and contact details. Take it to or sent it to your preferred testing agent - if you are based in the UK, you can send the sample(s) to Camelid Veterinary Services or it may be worth asking your vet if they can carry out FECs for alpacas (but bear in mind that not all vets are able to do this).



FEC Results

The person carrying out the FECs should let you know the results in epg (eggs per gram) counts and the type of parasite found and advise as to whether treatment is required or not and, if so, which medication to use and at what dosage rate.



Should I move my alpacas to clean grass straight after worming?

No, do not move adult alpacas to fresh pasture after worming, as this can lead to alpacas ingesting only medication resistant worms. Instead, leave them on the 'dirty' pasture at least a couple of weeks to allow them to ingest a mix of resistant and non-resistant worms to help avoid creating a completely medication resistant worm population.



How To Prevent Worms In Alpacas

  • Poo pick the entire paddock either daily or every other day to reduce the success of worms hatching

  • Split your pasture in half and rotate your herd between pastures every 6-8 weeks to allow the worm cycles to fail (as no host is present)

  • Quarantine new alpacas and carry out faecal testing/treatment to avoid passing worms onto the rest of the herd

  • Routinely faecal sample test your herd for evidence of worms



Disclaimer: Fostings Alpacas are not a veterinarian body. Always consult your vet before administering any medication to your herd.


 

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