How to Treat Worms in Alpacas

Updated: May 8

Disclaimer: We are not a veterinarian body. Please consult your vet before administering any medication to your herd.

Worm Cycle

It’s important to understand the worm life cycle in order to effectively treat your herd…

1) Worms develop into adults whilst inside the alpaca and lay eggs in the digestive tract

2) The alpaca will defecate worm eggs in their faeces

3) Worm eggs hatch

4) First & second stage larvae develop in the alpaca’s faeces

5) Third stage larvae are infective and begin to migrate out of the faeces and onto the ground

6) Larvae are ingested by the alpaca when grazing

7) Cycle repeats

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 (typically above 200 eggs per gram in alpacas), then worming is necessary.

How do I know if my alpacas have worms?

Taking a faecal sample to determine the type of parasite present and the worm count will enable your vet to advise you on whether your alpacas need worming or not, and which medication is required according to the parasite identified. You can individually sample all of your alpacas, but this can be time consuming and costly if you have a lot of alpacas, so it is also possible to test a mixed sample from each herd group.

How often should I worm alpacas?

Adult alpacas require checking for worms and worming as necessary twice a year; once in May and again in October when worms are at their most prevalent. Cria should be wormed at weaning and moved onto fresh pasture to reduce the impact of worms so that they are in the fittest of health to continue growing. After that, they can fall in with the herd treatment cycle.

What Medication Should I Use To Worm Alpacas?

Most vets advise against blanket treating without first conducting a faecal sample test because the overuse of wormers, especially when not needed, can lead to drug resistance (think of it like human antibiotic resistance). Plus, you may not actually treat the burden if the medication is not effective against the type of worm present.

The medication you require will depend upon the type of worm present, which your vet will be able to advise on after a faecal sample test has been carried out.

How To Prevent Worms In Alpacas

  • Regularly poo pick your paddocks to reduce the chance of contact with worms

  • Split your pasture in half and rotate your herd between pastures every 6-8 weeks

  • Quarantine new alpacas where possible 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

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