Alpacas and llamas both belong to the camel family. To see how they differ, look at llamas on Mount Lehman Llama site
Alpacas are shorn standing, or turned upside down, stretched out and restrained, and rolled from side to side to be shorn, or on a purpose built shearing table. They can be hand shorn, or with electric equipment. With an electric handpiece a snow comb is used, on a slow speed, with oil to lubricate the hand piece.
At least 2 kg of fine fibre (around 20 to 30 microns for an adult) is produced annually by each animal, and use of imported studs with new genetics is now producing greater shear weight, with fleece weights of 5kg and over being achieved. (This histogram on the right is near-perfect.)
The market is for craft—spinning, weaving, knitting, felting—and also for small scale commercial manufacturing. High quality fibre, processed for specialty markets, can yield up to $100/kg.
Look at our fibre page for more
information about fibre, and look at the
alpaca products page to see garments made from alpaca.
Alpaca feet are a soft pad, and they do not get footrot, or scald. On soft ground their toenails need clipping annually.
See our webpage on clipping toenails.
1) Colosterid Diseases
Covers pulpy kidney and other colosterid diseases. Use 5-in-1 (the traditional product) or later 10-in-1 products.
Do not use
10 in 1 products on cria.
Comes in different products with different doses and injecting regimes. Follow the dose regimes for the product for sheep. However we recommend whichever product you use, you provide cover every 6 months, and also when the dam enters the birthing paddock at 30 – 45 days before birth (but see 10 in 1 warning here).
There are different approaches to inoculating young cria. Some recommend inoculation to cover from day 3 or 4. We prefer to rely on the dam’s immunity and do first inoculations at about 6 weeks of age.
is not weight related. Use the sheep dose for cria and adult,
irrespective of weight.
Drenching is necessary if alpacas are run in paddocks occupied by sheep or other stock. Alpacas on their own use a communal dung heap, which reduces the occurrence of internal parasites. If you graze the paddocks low, and the alpacas are made to eat close to their dung heaps, then worms may become a problem.
Frequent use of the same drench can cause resistance. We therefore recommend a conservative use of drench – drenching only when there is likely to be a problem (heavy stocked grazing, hot humid climatic conditions, sharing of paddocks with other stock, and frequent incoming and outgoing of other alpacas). Faecal egg counts can assist in identifying if there is a problem or not. Concentrate on at risk alpacas which will be your juveniles under 6 months.
We prefer Dectomax injectable drench which is weight-related - use the pig dose at 1 ml per 33kg bodyweight. Every 4 weeks if you need to be intensive. Every 6 months as a preventative.
Can also use ivomect injectable drench.
If drenching cria use an oral drench.
Note that unusual parasites such as barber pole worm (North Island) and tapeworms need special treatment and should be vet consult cases.
3) ADE Vitamins
We inject these as supplements See our webpage on Vitamins.
· At 6 weeks age for a cria (use VETADE)
· In April, June and August (winter months) for the first year of life. (use VETADE for younger cria, and HIDEJECT for older alpacas)
· When entering birthing paddock 30 – 45 days prior to birthing (HIDEJECT).
We also supplement any other alpaca that looks suffering from Vit D deficiency symptoms (see Vitamin D article on this web site).
weight based doses - however alpacas are tolerant to larger amounts of
Vit D (less so the Vit A that goes with it!).
Young male alpacas
Males are able to be studs from 2-3 years old, and females are mated at one year old.
Alpaca produce one cria every year. Pregnancy is 11.5 months, and animals are re-mated two weeks later. Females can be mated at 1 year, and will breed until they are 14 or 15 years old. Males reach fertility between 2 to 3 years old.
At day 14 from mating the male is re-introduced to the female. If the female is not pregnant, her progesterone level will be low, and she will sit down for the male and the mating process is repeated.
If it has been a successful mating and a pregnancy has resulted, then the progesterone level will be high and the female will not be receptive to the male. She will run, kick, and spit at the male - and thus alpaca pregnancy testing is commonly called a "spit off" test !
Progesterone is what helps to maintain pregnancy. Thus pregnancy can be tested by a blood test, which measures the progesterone in the alpaca.
Scanning of an alpaca can be done at 60-90 days, to see the foetus.
Alpaca gestation is 11.5 months - from 335 to 342 days usually.
As the pregnancy nears term, the
progesterone level drops in preparation for birthing.
Signs that your alpaca is in the late part of her pregnancy are moving away from
the herd, sitting off alone, and sitting up on their hips, looking
uncomfortable. This behaviour may start as much as 2 weeks prior to
Alpacas usually birth in daylight hours, and usually on a fine day. This is related to a survival mechanism in the wild, where the baby cria has to be up and walking with the dam by the time the herd moves away to a safe place for their night resting spot.
Normal alpaca labour can be divided into 3 stages – preparation, cria birth, placenta passing.
Contractions begin – the cervix relaxes, and the cria begins to head into the birthing canal. This stage can take from 1 to 6 hours and some alpacas may not show signs of discomfort.
Most alpacas deliver standing up, and usually the head and front feet come first.
The cria will appear to be diving out and heading for the
The female may have short rest periods, sitting, lying, or even eating, during this process.
The third stage of birthing is the passing of the placenta, usually within 1 hour of birth. It should be checked for completeness, and collected and, taken away from the paddock, and buried.
Some mothers may be uncomfortable until the placenta is passed, and certainly once the placenta has come, the milk flow improves.
|Updated March 2015||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 email@example.com