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see West Melton

Alpaca Articles

Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.

They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA and also through articles on this website and other websites.

Click here for more articles  
 
WINTERING ALPACAS

By Southern Alpacas Stud
 

 

Alpacas are touted as easy-care animals, yet in winter owners need to take more care of them. Originally from the colder climates of South America, alpacas can cope with that dry cold, but here the rain and the wind chill factor can set the scene for a chilly alpaca.

Even if the alpacas appear to have come OK through the recent bad weather, and snow storms down south, the next fortnight is critical to ensure that they have shelter and extra food.

 

Shelter

Make sure that there is shelter - a thick hedge, overhanging trees, the lee of windcloth on fences, or an open-fronted shelter shed. Alpacas rarely use their shelter shed, except when it is raining hard. Large size dog coats will fit an alpaca who is poorly, but make sure they accept wearing the coat.

 


Winter health

Alpacas susceptible to winter weather include older girls, nursing dams, young cria, recently shorn, and any who are not well. Watch for the sluggish animal, the slow one, the one who has been scouring, and the skinny ones.

We do ADE injections for vitamin D supplementation for all our cria and some of our teenagers, and darker coloured alpacas, in late April, late June, and again in August if it remains overcast. For sluggish looking alpacas, we may give an extra dose in between. A catasol injection will also help perk up a seemingly D deficient cria, and work wonders on alpacas that are "slow".

 

 

Extra Food  

In winter feed can be tight, especially with the snowfalls. Supplement the grass with meadow hay, or for those who need that little extra, use lucerne hay, or a lucerne chaff mix which is higher in protein.  

Take out just a "biscuit" or slice of hay for each group of alpacas. If you put it in a feeder off the ground, or under sheltering trees, it will stay drier and tastier for longer.
 

 
 


Garden Fodder

Garden shrubs are alpaca treats - the last of the poplar and willow leaves, and evergreen trees like acacia, hebes, tree lucerne and karamu coprosma. These are all alpaca favourites, and can be grown as sheltering hedges, and trimmed regularly for fodder.

Cut off large branches and thread them through the wire or timber rails of the fence so they stay fixed and the alpacas can pull the vegetation off.

 

 

Snow and Frosts

Alpacas do not dig through snow for food, so snow means feeding out. Alpacas will try to reach overhanging branches, weighted down by snow, so make sure any poisonous garden plants are shaken clear of snow so they can spring back up out of alpaca reach, and not break under the snow weight.

Water troughs will freeze in snowy and in frosty conditions. We go around with an old broom handle to break the ice to provide access to water.

In snowy weather it is crucial to feed out food like hay and large tree branches on top of the snow as alpacas do not dig through snow for food.

 

 

   

Updated Oct 2012

Nic Cooper and Linda Blake
Main West Coast Road, West Melton, RD1, Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone 0064 3 318-1917 | fax 0064 3 318-1927 | email alpacasnz@xtra.co.nz