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see West Melton



Southern Alpacas News

We provide information of value to many of our customers and visitors.

Below you'll find Seasonal Hints,
for seasonal alpaca work to be done in New Zealand.


Pictured:   Top Stud
ILR Alpine Fiber's Brutus

Seasonal Hints
These seasonal hints are written for New Zealand conditions.

Seasonal Hints - Spring



Spring is the time to plan for spring pasture and soil management. Do soil, water and herbage tests, decide on replanting or top sowing programmes, arrange fertilizers, book seed, book spray and seed contractors. It is amazing how quickly spring creeps up on you!!!

With shows starting now, identify those Show cria, work with them towards haltering. You can work with cria of 3 to 4 months of age for small periods of time (shorter attention span), and being used to humans makes haltering much easier.

And start thinking about your mating programme for the season too. Book in your favourite stud male early. 



 Seasonal Hints - Summer



Summer means shearing time. Make sure your fleece is long enough, and that it is clean prior to shearing. The fleece cleaners are great - their electrostatic force flicks the debris out of the fleece on the alpaca. Take a mid side sample and get your microns tested. Weigh your total fleece weight and record it.

We recommend that older animals that do not grow enough length for decent use in a 12 month period, are shorn anyway. This for animal health reasons.

We are finding that modern day youngsters have fleece perfectly long enough to be shorn at 7 months, and are "over-fleeced" at 10 months. Consider shearing them young.  The second fleece will be far better for it.

And whilst you are shearing, get those other animal maintenance jobs up-to-date, like toe nails and inoculations. Some people like to do it while the alpaca is strapped down for shearing.

Birthing is the other summer happening. Keep a close eye on your pregnant females. Most alpacas will birth in the daytime and will do it all themselves. We like to keep an eye on them to help any who may need it. 

Mating follows, with summer mating giving summer births. Most alpacas are ready to get pregnant two weeks after giving birth.

Young females can be mated at 12 months of age. But if your female is smaller, or is not emotionally mature, or is resisting the male in the mating pen, then wait. You will get a far better productive life from her by waiting later to mate her, than by forcing the mating.



Seasonal Hints Autumn



In autumn we do our pre winter health checks.  Inoculations, body scoring, drenching if necessary, toes, teeth, etc. etc. 

Keep a close eye on your alpacas, but particularly get your hands on them regularly, and do a "body score" to check their condition.
Older alpacas and nursing dams can easily lose condition in winter, and fibre hides it from view. Their woolly winter coats can hide the fact that they are skinny underneath. Have a look at our  articles webpage on body scoring

It is time to consider vitamin D supplementation (in the form of ADE injections) for younger and darker coloured animals. We inject all our cria and some of our teenagers in late April, late June, and again in August if it remains overcast.  We also specially watch for that “sluggish looking” cria that may need an extra dose in between.  In the extreme, a Catasol will also help perk up a seemingly D deficient cria.

Make sure you have stocks of winter feed - hay, lucerne, chaff, pea vine, alpaca pellets.
There are garden plants that you can feed your alpacas as well. And remember that hay fed alpacas have a far higher water requirement than grass eaters.

Lower pecking order alpacas get less feed. Get hands on and move those suffering into feed paddocks or where supplementation is available and competition is less.
  Also consider earlier weaning of cria, if the cria is thriving and the dam is suffering. It is perfectly OK to wean at 4 months in these circumstances.


Seasonal Hints - Winter



      Wintering alpacas means keeping a close eye on how they are doing. In winter  the key thing to be doing is checking body score. Older alpacas and nursing dams can quickly lose condition over winter, and fibre hides it from view. So this is the time for weekly hands on. Have a look here if you are not sure what to do.


        Separate any alpaca that is rapidly losing condition (in body score) and supplement with extra feed - lucerne hay and chaff. 

       Remember that hay fed alpacas have a far higher water requirement than grass
 eaters.  Keep troughs full.   

       Also consider earlier weaning of cria, if the cria is thriving and the dam is suffering. It is perfectly OK to wean at 4 months in these circumstances. 

This is also maintenance time – toe nails, teeth, inoculations, Tb testing, scanning for pregnancies etc.


  Wintering Alpacas
Body ScoringAlpacas in their woolly winter coats can get thin without you seeing it, so over winter do regularly get hands on your alpacas and "body score" them.

Get your hands on your alpaca over the backbone, near the last ribs, just above and behind the front legs. Feel the backbone between fingers and thumb. Have a look at our website articles section to interpret what you feel. 

Winter feed conditions may mean your alpacas
are looking for extra food. Supplement the grass with meadow hay, or lucerne hay or chaff which is higher in protein.

There are a wide range of garden plants that alpacas can eat. We give them the last of the poplar and willow leaves, and evergreen trees like acacia, hebes, tree lucerne, photinea or red robin bush and karamu coprosma. These are all alpaca favourites, and can be grown as sheltering hedges, and trimmed regularly for fodder.


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 alpacasnz@xtra.co.nz