Alpacas are very friendly inquisitive and intelligent animals, they are members of the Camelid family that originate from Peru or Chile. Other members of the Camelid family are llamas and camels, alpacas are different in that they are much smaller and have a lovely soft fleece that is used to make gorgeous textile products.
They are easy to look after, but they can also hide illness very well, so from careful observation from a experienced herds person any unusual behaviour would be detected and treatment given. They tend to have a routine of grazing and resting and if one alpaca is away from the herd or acting out of character then observation would detect any illness , as with any animals as long as you know your animals well, you will recognise any changes and act on them.
Alpacas do not like to be penned or fenced into small areas, but shelter should be provided so they can use it in extreme heat, cold or wet.
Alpacas need yearly vaccination and worming, this done by an injection. Their feet are different from sheep they do not have cloven hoofs , they have two toe nails on each foot, the toe nails need trimming at least four times each year, they are sheared once a year between may and July . They have a mineral feed supplement as well as grazing and in the winter they are fed with hay.
Birthing & Pregnancy
Birthing is managed hope fully as routine but problems can occur and again a good herds person would know the females and learn from season to season how each animal copes with giving birth, most alpacas are good mothers, very protective of the cria, post natal problems can occur –
. Premature birth
. Cria not feeding
. Afterbirth retention
. Cria not gaining Weight
. Rejection of cria
. Cria may need Plasma
The cria needs daily weighing and observation to make sure that they are feeding correctly, A waterproof coat should be applied for the first week or so depending on the time of the year and weather conditions.
Alpacas can be mated all year round as they are induced ovulaters. Ovulation occurs up to 26 hours after mating, the female will be covered by the same male on a repeat basis until she refuses him (spit off) gestation is 11 1/2 months but birthing can take place up to 3 weeks either side of this. Young female alpacas are ready to start breeding around 18 months or 65% of their final body weight. Alpacas live into their twenties.