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Alpaca Care

Alpacas are very easy to look after but do,as with all livestock, need checking at least once a day. On our farm we do it twice a day as we can't see all our paddocks from the house and if something happened after we had fed in the morning, and we weren't due to visit again until the next day an animal may not get the help and attention it needed.

We feed a nut and a course mix that has been specially formulated and manufactured for alpacas. Both the nut and the mix contain 16% protein and the same minerals, the nut includes a probiotic yeast. Why feed both? The nut is processed and will dissolve quickly in the rumen giving quick absorption with the probiotic helping balance the digestive system where as the mix will tax the rumen as it has to break it down the normal way. Feeding about 250 grams per day per alpaca ensures they will receive most of the minerals they need to thrive in our pasture.

Spliting the daily rations into 2 amounts and feed in the morning and again in the evening allows us make sure all is ok while feeding round.

Alpacas are very easy to look after but do need checking at least once a day. On farm we feed round twice a day to make sure all is well.

During each visit it is easy to see if all is well, the alpaca will run to greet us and it is easy to check that no one has scouring (diarrhea) are lame, or any other obvious problems. If a single animal from a group does not come to feed or is slower than normal, it can be an indication that all is not well. It is worth remembering that alpacas do not show that they are ill and will mask any problems that may need a vet or further investigation. Always try to "know" your animals, spend time with them to learn what is normal for that animal which may not be the same for others.

In addition to feed we offer hay all year round, essential in the winter and also in the summer it helps provide dry matter to the stomach aiding it to process the lush grass wet matter.

Fresh clean water should always be available; they will try to stand in water troughs so one on a fence will stay clean longer. Remember to remove ice in the winter.

Field shelters should be made available, they may not always use them but if you have a sick animal it is a must to be able to get it out of the weather to tend to it. Building a pen off the shelter in which you feed is also a good idea, they will get used to coming in to be fed so if you need to do a routine tasks a bit of food and they are in the pen ready to work with. It is also a good idea to catch them every now and then, stroke them and then let them go, nothing terrible happened and they will get used to being handled, it won't then be a great shock when you need to vaccinate or toenail trim.

Stress is a big problem to alpacas so the less stress you can put them under the better, remember that they don't show their feelings so be aware what you are doing to them.

Members of the British Camelid Veterinarian Society who are happy to help and  advise on the treatment of alpacas, can be found on http://www.camelidvets.org/

Lightfoot Alpacas, Lightfoot Cottage
Slip Mill Road, Hawkhurst. Kent. TN18 5AB
Contact Graham & Barbara Tel: 07802 263589