Animal Care

We offer comprehensive services to keep your alpacas happy and healthy, including shearing, toe nail & teeth trimming, deworming, and vaccines.

Shearing

Shearing

Alpacas need sheared every year.  An alpaca will provide approximately 5-8 pounds of fiber each year.  Shearing is necessary to prevent heat stress. Overheating can also lead to alpacas becoming sterile.

If an alpaca is purchased from us, we will shear it the first year at no charge, in exchange for the fiber.  After the first year, we can shear your alpacas for you for a fee, if our schedule permits.  At Shootin’ Stars Farm Suri Alpacas, we have a network of contacts.  We can recommend several respectable shearers in our area to accommodate your shearing needs.


Toe Nails

toe-nails

Occasionally alpacas need their toe nails trimmed. Usually, this is done at shearing.  Sometimes there is a need to trim toe nails more than once a year.  At Shootin’ Stars Farm Suri Alpacas, we can show you how perform this easy process.  If you prefer, we can do this procedure for you for a small fee.

Check toe nails every couple of months to see if they need trimmed.  Frequency of need depends on the surface the alpaca walks on and their color.  Dark nails need to be trimmed less often than the white or light ones. The nail should be trimmed even with the bottom of the foot pad and nail clippers are available from alpaca vendors or farm stores.


Teeth Trimming

teeth1

Alpacas have three pairs of deciduous incisors (front teeth) on the bottom and one pair on the top. The incisors on the top are further back in the mouth than the bottom incisors and look more like canine teeth than incisors. This makes up one of the pairs of upper fighting teeth.   The fighting teeth are very sharp and angled towards the back of the mouth. These teeth need to be trimmed to prevent males from injuring other alpacas.

teeth2

The bottom incisors grow continually and will need trimmed occasionally.  The bottom teeth should meet with the top palate of the alpaca.  If the teeth extend beyond the top palate, they need to be trimmed.  Tooth trimming can be done with a variety of tools, including a Dremel with a grinding wheel or cutting disc, OB wire, or specially designed tools for trimming alpaca teeth.

At Shootin’ Stars Farm Suri Alpacas, we use OB wire to trim and a Dremel to smooth the tooth.  We can show you how to trim your alpacas’ teeth, or do it for you.


Deworming

For years, the standard protocol was to monthly deworm alpacas.  This has led to resistant strands of parasites.  The current recommendation is to do fecal examinations, and deworm according to the results.  A follow-up fecal should be done 2-3 weeks after treatment to confirm that the treatment worked.

Meningeal worm (parelaphostronglyus) is a major concern for alpaca owners that live in an area with white tail deer.  This worm causes damage to the central nervous system and may result in death.  Ivermectin or doramectin is used to treat this parasite.  Doramectin (Dectomax) should be given every 45 days, and Ivermectin (Ivomec) should be given every 30 days.  These need to be given SQ, which means just under the skin.  If it is given IM, in the muscle, the drug will metabolize quicker and need to be administered more frequently.  Also, the pour-on type is not effective on alpacas.  The doramectin and ivermectin dose is 1cc per 50 pounds of body weight.

The following are also common parasites that effect alpacas:

Nematodirus(stomach worms) or Trichuris(whipworms)
These parasites are notoriously variable egg shedders.  Even one egg identified on a fecal exam suggests a problem. Aggressive treatment may be required. Oral dose fenbendazole at 20mg/kg for 5 consecutive days.

Strongyles
Typically, a single dose of ivermectin, fenbendazole or albendazole is adequate for most strongyles.  In cases where heavy burdens are seen, alpacas should be treated for 3-5 days at 20mg/kg dose of fenbendazole.  If an animal is severely thin, a 3-5 day course should be considered.

Moniezia and Thysaniezia(tapeworms)
Albendazole has a better efficacy for tapeworm than fenbendazole.  A 5-day course of Albendazole dosed at 5.5mg per pound given orally.

Coccidia (Emeria)
Coccidia are protozoan parasites. A first sign of a Coccidia infection is ball stools instead of pellets.  It is treated with sulfa drugs (sulfadimethoxine = albon), but is prevented by using specific drugs such as amprolium (Corid) dosed at 25mg per pound of body weight for 5 days.  Albon given SQ at 25mg per pound of body weight for 5 days is also effective.

This is NOT an all-inclusive list of parasites or prevention plans.  Always, always, always consult your veterinarian!


Vaccines

When giving vaccines, it is important to consult a veterinarian about conditions specific to your location and animals. If the pasture shared with other species of livestock, additional vaccinations may be required.

CD/T is given to crias at 2-3 days old and again at 2-3 weeks of age.  Administer 2cc of CD/T SQ (under the skin).  When a cria is weaned at 6 months old, another 2cc dose of CD/T is given.  At a year old, a 3cc dose is given.  Annually vaccinate adult alpacas with 3cc of CD/T SQ.

Rabies vaccinations are commonly used.  The dose is 1-2cc.  The initial vaccination is two doses 30 days apart.  Then an annual 2ml dosage is administered.

Vaccines are available for Leptospira and E. coli, but should only be used if there is a documented problem.  There is no correct or incorrect protocol for vaccines.  Work with your veterinarian in your area to develop the best vaccination plan for your farm.  Once again, always, always, always consult your veterinarian!