Alpaca husbandry for welfare care
A yearly alpaca husbandry plan is essential to ensure the health and welfare of your herd. Here is a general outline of the main tasks and activities you should consider incorporating into your annual alpaca care plan:
- Shearing (Late Spring/Early Summer): Shear your alpacas annually to prevent overheating and to maintain healthy fleece growth. The optimal time for shearing is usually late spring or early summer, depending on your local climate.
- Fleece Skirting and Processing: After shearing, skirt and sort the fleece, removing any debris or low-quality fibres. Send the quality fleece to a mill for processing or process it yourself.
- Regular Health Checks (Throughout the Year): Conduct routine health checks on your alpacas, monitoring their body condition, weight, and overall appearance. Check for any signs of illness or injury and consult a veterinarian if needed.
- Vaccinations and Parasite Control (Biannual or as advised by a veterinarian): Administer vaccinations and deworming treatments as recommended by your veterinarian to protect your alpacas from diseases and parasites. This may vary depending on your location and herd health status.
- Dental and Foot Care (Every 6-12 Months or as needed): Trim your alpacas’ toenails and check their teeth regularly. Teeth should be examined for overgrowth or malocclusion and may require trimming or filing by a veterinarian.
- Breeding and Birthing (As per your breeding plan): Monitor and manage your breeding program, including mating, pregnancy checks, and assisting with births if necessary. Alpacas have an 11 to 12-month gestation period, so plan accordingly.
- Cria Care: Monitor new born crias closely, ensuring they are healthy, nursing, and bonding with their mothers. Conduct health checks and administer necessary vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Nutrition and Pasture Management (Throughout the Year): Provide appropriate feed, supplements, and clean water to your alpacas. Regularly assess pasture quality, rotate grazing areas, and implement weed control measures as needed.
- Shelter and Fencing Maintenance (Throughout the Year): Inspect and maintain shelters and fencing to ensure the safety and comfort of your alpacas. Repair any damage or hazards promptly.
- Training and Socialization (Throughout the Year): Spend time with your alpacas, training them to be comfortable with handling, haltering, and basic husbandry tasks. This will make routine care and health checks easier and less stressful for both you and the animals.
- Record Keeping (Throughout the Year): Maintain accurate records of your alpacas’ health, breeding history, vaccinations, and other important information. Good record-keeping is essential for monitoring herd health and making informed management decisions.
This yearly plan provides a general outline of essential alpaca husbandry tasks. Keep in mind that your specific needs and schedule may vary depending on your herd size, location, and individual alpaca requirements. Regular consultation with a veterinarian experienced in alpaca care is crucial to ensure the ongoing health and welfare of your herd.