VER Alpaca FAQ
Have a question about alpacas you need answered? Or are you just getting into the industry and not sure where to start?
Head on over to our handy FAQ guide and find the answers you need.
New to alpacas?
Welcome to the Victorian Eastern Region website, we have many resources here to help you along your journey of alpaca ownership.
- You will need a Property Identification Code
- Insurance – you may wish to consider farm and alpaca insurance. WFI is a supporter of the VER, their Rural Plans may be if interest.
- Social media – the VER have their own Social Media pages, go to Facebook or Instagram and search VER Australian Alpaca
- Alpaca Youth – the VER has a youth committee with Paraders competitions, youth camps and workshops. They also run a Facebook page – search Victorian Alpaca Youth Group
- You have an ethical and legal responsibility to provide optimal welfare and sound husbandry practices to all livestock on your farm.
Be sure to visit our Alpaca health, On farm and Alpaca shows sections for more helpful information
eAlpaca provides pedigree and show services to national alpaca associations. It currently has nearly 200,000 animals with pedigrees dating back over 20 years and 10+ generations all the way to ancestors in Peru, Chile and Bolivia.
To locate breeders in your area go to:-
- log in using your your account
- click Members -left side menu
- click Advanced search
- Select Region or Post Code of your choice
- Herd Code provides the numbers of alpacas registered to the stud
- by clicking on the Full Name you will be provided with contact details including websites where available
The following VER members have volunteered to be mentors in our region, if you need advice or support please feel free to contact them:-
Mornington Peninsula – Red Hill
David and Jean Daddo
MOB: 0436 022 440
Mornington Peninsula – Tyabb
Jack and Rosalie Boer
MOB: 0427 825 002
Dandenong Ranges – Seville
Julie and Tim Blake
MOB: 0423 547 768
Dandenong Ranges- Belgrave South
Lynda and Nic Holdsworth
MOB: 0419 334 276
Gippsland – Nar Nar Goon
MOB: 0417 506 855
West Gippsland- Willow Grove
MOB: 0431 039 719
West Gippsland – Yarragon
MOB: 0408 827 896
East GIppsland – Iguana Creek
MOB: 0417 392 670
Victorian High Country – Yea
MOB: 0432 398 160
When you’re thinking about joining the alpaca community, there are lots of questions to consider. As it’s a long-term commitment, it’s important to be prepared and informed. If you are intending to start an alpaca based business, the information below will assist you in building your business plan.
To streamline this process, we’ve compiled a Buyer’s Checklist covering all the most important questions.
Why alpacas? Is your interest in:
- Herd protectors?
What do you need to consider before you buy?
- What age, colour and registration status suits your needs?
- Males or females – males and females should not be kept together even if the males are castrated.
- Are the animals registered with the AAA so they can be transferred? It is the responsibility of the breeder to register the animal before transferring it.
- Is the vendor a reputable AAA member?
- Check the Breed Standard on the AAA website for ideal traits and possible faults.
- Obtain health records, vaccination status, breeding history and mating status for each animal. Make sure to check the registration information on eAlpaca to verify the information. If you wish to have an animal vet checked before buying it, you bear the cost.
- If buying a pregnant female, you will need the owner to complete a Sire Authority in eAlpaca. Ask for details on proof of pregnancy, ideally an ultrasound.
- How much space do you have, check your DSE(dry sheep equivalent) for your area. Alpacas are herd animas and although they cope in groups of two they prefer three or more
- Do you require agistment.
- Visit farms and speak to experienced breeders and owners. They’re a wealth of information about pitfalls to avoid and for tips on successful alpaca farming and breeding.
- Request an invoice or sale document detailing the animals you have agreed to purchase.
- Agree on who pays the AAA transfer fee.
- Request a full husbandry record.
- Research care requirements
- Join the AAA to have your animals transferred into your name and for up-to-date information, education and events.
- These steps will assist you in making a well planned purchase that will meet your goals
For further information read the AAA Resources Buying Your First Alpaca
Focus Your Beginning is an article written by a local breeder – Lezley Golding, Stevley Park Suris.
Regular checks of your herds health is a good habit for any livestock owner.
Grass seeds in eye, Staggers, birthing, injuries, poo piles, acting unusually signalling something is wrong
1. Body condition score/weight
2. Famacha – eye colour
3. Teeth/Quidding – packing cheeks with chewed grass, may signal teeth issues
4. Supplements such as Vitamin D and mineral supplements
6. Faecal tests for parasite burdens and worm drenching as required
7. Toenails clipping
See below for further information on the above husbandry requirements
Keep good records – use a diary, spreadsheet or data management software.
Every farm has differing circumstances that effect the parasite load in your animals. This includes but is not limited to:
a) recently purchased stock and whether quarantine drenching was actioned
b) history of parasite drenches used
c) stocking rates and rotation of paddocks
d) seasonal changes and weather patterns – internal parasites thrive best in warm moist conditions
e) removal of manure from paddocks
f) what species have been farmed in last 1-2 years
g) whether cross grazing has been implemented.
The most challenging internal parasites are:
- Barbers Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus)- can be fatal in a very short period.
- Small Brown Stomach Worm (Ostertagia ostertagi).
- Black Scour worm (Trichostrongylus spp).
- Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica).
To minimise issues with internal parasites use best practices:
- do not allow overgrazing.
- utilise paddock rotation.
- regular faecal tests at appropriate times of the year.
- if on small acreage collect and remove manure from the paddocks regularly.
- work with your mentor and Vet as a guide to your best practices in your area.
- utilise the FAMACHA eye lid colour chart regularly to check for anaemia caused by Haemonchus Contortus
To avoid giving unrequired internal parasite drenches, it is best to have your alpaca manure tested for parasite burdens. This can easily be achieved by gathering a small, fresh faecal sample and having it tested for parasite eggs.
Your vet may offer this testing service and below are two other options in Victoria, information is also provided on sample collection:
Famacha is a method to assess the severity of aneamia caused by blood sucking internal parasites. This allows timely drenching of animals if aneamia is noted.
The FAMACHA eye colour chart follows:
1= red, non-anaemic
2= red-pink, non-anaemic
3= pink, mildly anaemic
4= pink-white, anaemic
5= white, severely anaemic
Interested in learning more about alpacas and worms?
You may be interested to read the AAA Members Advice_Parasites worms
In 2028 several breeders participated in the study on gastrointestinal worms (nematodes) in alpacas. The authors of this study are Jane Vaughan, Mohammed Rashid, Abdul Jabbar. Click this link to Studies on gastrointestinal nematodes (worms) of alpacas
Keeping alpacas on a good plane of nutrition is essential for healthy reproduction as well as minimizing variations in the diameter along the length of the fleece staple. Sudden changes in diet can result in sickness, foetal stress and tender fleece. Seasonal changes in dietary quality and quantity make it essential to monitor your animal’s body condition.
Body Condition Scoring
BCS (body condition scoring) is a simple method of discerning the general fat/muscle score. Alpacas often conceal their body score under their fleece.
a) Palpate the alpaca over the central backbone near the last ribs.
b) Place your fingers on the central back, either side of the vertebrae feeling for muscle coverage
c) Palpate the area with fingers and thumb making an appraisal of the muscle mass
d) Its important to put your hands on the backbone and feel.
Body Condition Score is based on a scale of 1 to 5, with alpaca in poor condition scoring 1 and obese alpacas scoring 5
To learn more on how to body condition score go to AAA Advice Body Condition Scoring
Some farmers use a set of scales under a race/crush and this can be a great tool when assessing the health of your alpaca.
Alpacas may be run on small or large acreages. A key to their nutrition is to match stocking rates with pasture production to avoid over-grazing, weed spread and soil erosion.
Alpacas are primarily grazers and eat small amounts of a wide variety of plants. If the quality or quantity of pasture is limited supplementary feeding is required.
In our region alpacas need to have access to good quality grass hay at all times.
As pseudo ruminants they must have this roughage for the functioning of their gut. Alpacas need palatable, digestible, long-stemmed roughage(leafy, green pasture, hay and/or silage greater than 4 cm in length) to keep their fore-stomachs functioning normally.
In addition to grass hay and depending on your stocking rate you may run out of good quality pasture during summer and winter. This means supplementary feeding will be necessary.
Supplementary feeds include:
• Lucerne hay, clover hay, oaten hay
• Lucerne or oaten chaff
• Cracked lupins – good source of protein
• Whole oats – good source of carbohydrate
Many of the muesli mixes and pellets either have too much or too little of what alpacas need. Consult with your Vet on this.
Try and remember:
Too much green (protein) may cause diarrhea. It’s a balance just like for our human diets.
When introducing new foods always do it slowly, start with small amounts and increase slowly over 5-7 days.
Water – fresh clean water must be available at all times. Alpacas drink 5-8% of their body weight per day.
A body score of 2.5 is a healthy Alpaca.
“A full grown non breeding and non lactating alpaca will eat approximately 1.5% of their body weight as dry matter to maintain body weight. Growing alpacas and late-pregnant and lactating females will eat about 2-2.5% of their body weight as dry matter.”
Excerpt from CriaGenesis (Dr Jane Vaughan) website – “Top ten tips of alpaca nutrition”
To read more please click on below link. Top 10 tips of alpaca nutrition
Vaccination is recommended and is often provided at shearing time once per year however to ensure coverage of all diseases vaccination protects against, vaccination is required every 6 months. Check with your vet or mentor as to what is required in your area.
Vitamins and Minerals
As a general health regime alpacas should be monitored for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This is particularly important if your pasture and soils are deficient in certain minerals such as selenium or magnesium.
“Many of the water-soluble vitamins(vitamins B, C) are provided by the microbes that live in the fore-stomachs,so healthy alpacas do not require supplementation if they are healthy.”
“Of the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A and E are available from green grass (even from green weeds that come up after brief summer rain) so only need supplementation if pasture is completely dry for more than 8-10 weeks”
“Vitamin D supplementation is required in alpacas. Inject all alpacas less than 3 years of age, and all females due to give birth in winter/early spring (to fortify colostrum) with 6000 iu vitamin D/kg body weight under the skin or into the muscle. Administer in late autumn, mid – winter (and early spring in higher latitudes like Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand, Europe, Canada).”
“Read the label on the bottle to determine vitamin D concentration to determine what volume to administer.
E.g. A 20 kg cria needs 120,000 iu vitamin D. If there is 75,000 iu per mL vitamin D in your selected source of vitamin D, then the cria would need approximately 1.6 mL of solution injected.
Too much vitamin D can be toxic.”
Excerpt from CriaGenesis (Dr Jane Vaughan) website – “Top ten tips of alpaca nutrition”
“Are minerals deficient in the surrounding area in sheep and cattle? Ask the local Department of Agriculture, district veterinarian and neighbouring farmers for information. If in doubt, sample soils, pasture and/or alpacas to determine if mineral levels are adequate, before supplementation.”
“Acid, water-logged soils (annual rainfall > 500 mm) contribute to selenium deficiency. Selenium deficiency may be treated using an annual depot injection under the skin of barium selenate. Alternatively, alpacas may be supplemented by short – acting oral preparations at a rate of 0.1 mg/kg BW orally every 4-6 weeks.”
“Do not inject alpacas with sodium selenite or sodium selenite as it can cause peracute liver failure and death.”
Excerpt from CriaGenesis (Dr Jane Vaughan) website – “Top ten tips of alpaca nutrition”
Popular oral mineral supplements used by alpaca breeders in Victoria are TNN Mighty Min, Nutrimin Drench suitable for all ruminants and Propharma alpaca mineral lick.
To read more please click on Top 10 tips of alpaca nutrition
Given alpacas spend most of their time eating mouth health is important.
Common Signs Your Alpaca May Have a Dental Issue:
Alpacas of either sex can develop dental problems at any age. In females serious tooth problems are often more noticeable during late gestation or lactation when they have the highest nutritional requirements.
If your alpaca is showing one or more of the following symptoms they may be caused by dental problems.
- Loss of body condition – especially if the other animals are doing well in the same environment. Regular body condition scoring or weighing can often identify these alpacas.
- A reluctance to eat, accompanied by obvious pain on chewing. Quite often these animals do not finish their share of rations.
- Not chewing cud.
- Feed spillage from the mouth whilst chewing.
- Undigested food in droppings.
- Swelling around the jaw area. Often the swelling comes and goes as the animal makes protective pads from hay or grass to alleviate pain during chewing, known as quidding.
- Unhappy demeanor.
- Jaw abscess.
For more information on dental issues of alpacas please
Alpacas have a soft padded foot with two toenails and a soft leathery pad. Nails grow at different rates depending on the environment and the colour of the animals toenails, eg lighter colours seem to grow faster.
Toe nails need to be trimmed regularly, approximately 3-4 times per year.
Most alpacas do not love having their toe nails trimmed. It generally requires two people. One person applies firm but gentle restraint whilst the other lifts each leg and trims the nails level with the pad.
Click here for examples
Intact males or recently castrated males must not be run with females as they harass, cause stress and may cause physical damage. Intact males must not run with sheep or goats.
Castration should be performed on all males not used in a breeding program. Castration decreases aggression towards other alpacas and humans and allows suitable unwanted males to be on sold as pets or herd guards.
The males alpaca’s scrotal anatomy is not suited to the use of rubber rings and surgical castration is required. Pain relief is recommended. Contact your vet for further information.
The alpaca gestation (length of pregnancy) is between 335-355 days but can be as long as 390 days. Keeping good records will help you estimate length of pregnancy as in each female it is similar from one pregnancy to the next.
Pregnancy testing can be performed by using a “spit off” test at 7 and 14 days to test if they have firstly ovulated and secondly pregnant.
Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is normally produced by bacteria in the rumen of cattle and sheep on well-balanced roughage diets. However, there are also bacteria in the rumen capable of producing enzymes, called thiaminases, which break down and inactivate thiamine. These bacteria are normally in the minority, but under some conditions they proliferate and produce an excessive amount of thiaminases. This results in thiamine deficiency. Thiamine deficiency reduces energy availability to the brain, which leads to a type of brain degeneration called polioencephalomalacia or PEM. Source:Department of Agriculture WA, click here for further information.
PEM can affect all ruminants including alpacas and goats.
Granjero Park Alpacas Case Study, 2023
This female, let’s call her Miss T, came to our farm with a few other girls after outside mating’s. After their quarantine period they joined the main herd.
- Day 1
One day she was sitting in the paddock by herself and didn’t come down at feeding time with the others. As we went up to get her, she hopped up and came to feed.
- Day 2
The next day the same happened but we had to get her up and that’s when we noticed a slight head shake as she walked down.
This was all new to us and of course, we rang our mentors. We discussed staggers and possibly PEM.
We put her in a pen where she basically collapsed. Her head was shaking and leaning to the side.
My feeling was that she was possibly deaf and couldn’t see properly.
First, we thought possibly an ear infection and then we noticed a real bad breath smell, so we thought possibly an infection in the mouth. (Smelled a bit like mothballs, as did her poo).
The vet was booked whom came out the next morning.
- Day 3
In the morning Miss T was just lying there looking more dead than alive.
The vet diagnosed PEM.
The vet said not to get our hopes up and that we would possibly loose the cria.
The treatment was as follows.
- Week 1
We bottle fed her electrolytes for about 4 days.
She got Metacam 3ml each second day 4x(total 4 doses), Duplocilin 10ml each second day 3x(total 3 doses)and 6mls Vitamin B1 4x daily(4 doses daily).
We fed her grass from the paddock which we had to push into her mouth 3 or 4 times a day. She would chew once it was in.
We also fed her some toxin binder pellets. (Safeguard EQ) for about 4 days hidden in some fresh grass.
After about 3 days her ears pricked up when she heard us and seemed more alert. She was also sitting upright steadier again.
After about 5 days she could stand for a little while but very wobbly.
Bad breath was gone.
- Week 2
Heaps of improvement and we noticed that when we weren’t there, she was drinking and nibbling on chaff and lucerne.
Still feeding her fresh grass from the paddock
Down to 6mls Vitamin B1 3x daily for 5 days and then we started 6mls Vitamin B1 2x daily on the weekend so we could keep an eye on her.
Miss T would jump up when she could hear us. Standing in the pen for longer periods now.
- Week 3
Down to 6mls Vitamin B1 2x daily and let her out in the yard with some companions.
- Week 4
Been out in the paddock for a week now and looking very good.
Down to 6mls Vitamin B1 daily.
- Week 5 and onwards
We started 6mls Vitamin B1 morning one day and evening the next and slowly increased the time between injections till we got to 6mls Vitamin B1 per week till the cria arrived.
After months of B1 injections (About 4 bottles) and a healthy live cria, Miss T appears to be “normal” again.
She is back with the main herd and is mingling alright with the others.
When she first got here, she was always alone which makes us think it may have been stress related, but I suppose it could have been something she ate too. I guess we will never know.
The good thing is she is heaps improved and if something like this happens again, we will be better prepared / educated.
What to take from this?
Check you animals daily. You will notice change in their behaviour.
Call your local mentor (see Local Mentors VER Website) and ask for advice but any doubt, call the vet.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance of survival.
Never give up. Alpacas generally will pull through when diagnosed early and if cared for and treated properly.
The medications we used were prescribed by our vet for this particular animal and may not be suitable for your animal.
Rosalie and Jack Boer
Granjero Park Alpacas
No matter what the purpose of your alpacas or how many you have, it’s necessary that you practice best on-farm biosecurity and animal health and welfare to safeguard your herd, and the entire alpaca industry from biosecurity threats and diseases.
Through implementing on-farm biosecurity practices in your alpaca herd, you’ll protect the health of your livestock, limit production losses and help maintain market access for Australia’s alpaca producers.
A Property Identification Code is required by anyone who has any livestock. The purpose of property identification is for tracing and controlling disease and residue problems that may be detected, and for locating properties, and contacting owners and industry representatives. It is free
Consider your fencing when owning alpacas:
Alpacas that are halter trained are a joy to own. They have been desensitized to humans usually from young age. They are not difficult to handle or transport and taking care of their husbandry needs is easier.
It is a requirement that all alpacas entered in AAA Shows are haltered trained for judging.
Methods of training are numerous and mostly begins after weaning. Most alpaca breeders are familiar with halter training techniques and guidance is best sought from those with experience.
The most important feature of training is to ensure you have a halter that fits firmly and comfortably ensuring it does not restrict alpacas breathing. An ill fitting halter may slip down over the muzzle causing a restricted air flow which panics the alpaca. A snorting sound or flaring of the nostrils indicates an ill fitting halter. Selecting a halter with an adjustable nose band will ensure a good fit.
Talk to your mentor or look out for regional workshops on handling and halter training your alpacas.
Alpacas travel with ease.
Most owners use small horse floats or vans. As the vehicle begins travelling alpacas generally cush (sit down) lowering their centre of gravity.
You can also use a covered mesh style trailer as long as adequate wind protection is provided.
The South American Camelid Declaration Waybill is recommended when moving alpacas – eg sales, purchases, shows, events, etc
Before bringing alpacas home it is important to check your property for plants that may be poisonous to livestock.
Fleece production and processors
Fleece production process
VER local fleece sellers
Fleece buyer directory
Fleece processor directory
Shearing and processing
The love and popularity of alpaca fibre is on the rise. Combining softness, warmth and strength, alpaca fibre has all the benefits of wool without the itch. Available in natural colours but easily dyed, there’s many elements that alpaca fibre can be used for.
Guidelines for shearing shed set up and fleece preparation
Fibre tester directory
Fleece and fashion
Members search can be conducted by Basic search or you can use the Advanced search functions to be more specific on your search criteria. The Members search is actioned through eAlpaca
WFI is a valued supporter of the Victorian Eastern Region, Australian Alpaca Association with commissions from new and renewed local policies going directly to the VER accounts.
WFI offers a range of policies and covers for most types of farm. Policies can be tailored to suit your alpaca farm
WFI Rural Plan is an insurance package for you, your family and your farm which can be tailored to your circumstances. It gives you the choice of cover to best meet your requirements and your budget, in the one fully integrated plan.
Why not call WFI for a quote?
To find out more about WFI’s products or request a quote, simply contact your local WFI Area Manager on 1300 934 934 or visit their website
Our region has a number of farms that open to the public. Each property offers different experiences including meeting and feeding alpacas, walks with an alpaca, on farm alpaca shops and education.
Vets with alpaca experience
The following local veterinarians have experience treating a variety of alpaca related health issues.