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.
Vets with alpaca experience
The following local veterinarians have experience treating a variety of alpaca related health issues.
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 Facebook page go to VER Australian Alpaca
- Alpaca Youth – the VER has a youth committee with Paraders competitions, youth camps and workshops. They also run a facebook page so to keep up with all their activities go to Vic Alpaca Youth
- 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
Focus your beginning is an article written by a local breeder – Lezley Golding, Stevley Park Suris
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.
- Are your alpacas for fleece?
- Herd protectors?
- Your purchase will reflect the purpose of your alpaca investment.
What do you need to consider before you buy?
- What age, colour and registration status suits your needs?
- 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 may need the owner to complete an Authority for Non-owned Sire Service Certificate in eAlpaca. This only applies if the female has been mated to a male belonging to another owner. Ask for proof of pregnancy, ideally an ultrasound.
- Know if castration obligations are applicable.
- 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.
- Agree on who pays the registration transfer fees, and on the Contract of Sale. The transfer should occur within 30 days of sale to avoid penalty fees.
- Research care requirements
- Join the AAA to have your animal registered and for up-to-date information, education, and events.
- These steps will have you established for an alpaca purchase that is best suited to your goals and will make sure that the animals you purchase are in good health and ably suited to your purposes. As with any purchase, you want to know that you’re buying good quality with no hidden and unpleasant extras.
eAlpaca developers Simplify Solutions, provide an additional service listing animals for sale. There are more than 100 alpacas for sale at any time. Once logged in to eAlpaca go to eAlpaca Listings.
Alternatively use eAlpaca to locate a local breeder near you.
ALPACA FARMING CHOICES
It is important to consider what your goals might be, so you can work towards them from the outset. This way, you’ll be best established to achieve those goals and get the most out of your alpacas.
Do you want to build a successful business on a larger scale? Or do you want to keep it small and simple? Even if you’re not sure what scale you may develop to, it’s important to start out by giving yourself the greatest range of options. For example, if you’re interested in the fleece industry, you may want to breed for low-micron fleece that’s best for soft garments, and so starting out with an older alpaca with high-micron fleece isn’t the best option.
Small scale farming can involve home production and local sales of your alpaca products, such as through craft markets or local businesses. Some people want alpaca fleece for felting or for their own knitted garments. The cottage industry focuses on individual, handmade products, and while these may command high prices, they’re not produced on a highly profitable scale.
To make the most of the alpaca industry’s potential, large scale farming can be a profitable venture. In large scale farming, you will likely breed for specific traits in your animals, such as low-micron fleece, a specific colour, such as natural fleece colours or the pure white that’s best for dying, a higher micron fleece for carpets, or aim to create a stud service. Stud services are at an advanced stage, as they require top quality animals, that have a documented progeny. Once you have developed your reputation, you could also run your own agistment service. There is a wide range of options available for larger farms, as well as the opportunity to drive the ongoing development of the industry.
Even if you don’t have your own property, you can still own alpacas.
Agistment is a stepping stone for new owners, in which you house your alpacas on another person’s land. It can allow you to take unexpected investment opportunities while not yet prepared to support alpacas on your own land. It is also an option for those who don’t plan to own property but wish to invest in alpacas for fleece and breeding purposes. The agreement between the agistor and agistee protects the owner’s investment, making sure their alpacas are properly cared for.
An agistor agrees to provide grazing land and water supply at all times for their fostered alpacas, and other feed as needed. They guarantee proper care for the agistee’s alpacas, keeping them safely fenced and healthy. This includes drenching and vaccinations, as well as compiling data for the owner. They agree to keep the owners immediately up-to-date about illness, injury, theft or death, and to organise veterinary attention if necessary when the owners cannot be contacted.
The agistors also agree to bar other animals from their property that may negatively affect the health or well-being of the alpacas. The agistors are not held responsible for circumstances including death, theft or illness of the alpacas that were beyond their control, and not due to negligence.
The owners are entitled to visit their alpacas by appointment with the agistor. The agistee accepts the risk of the loss of their animals, or insures the animals against theft and death from any cause. The agistee pays the agistor an agreed fee to cover their alpacas and any weanlings, as well as the cria throughout their adolescence.
Additional costs can arise if extra hand feeing is required, or if bought food prices increase. The new costs must be mutually negotiated. These agreements are in place to protect both parties, and if you’re considering making the move to agistment, you should consider only experienced, reputable alpaca farmers who are members of the AAA. This is important for protecting your investment and for avoiding unpleasant future scenarios.
Alpacas are low-maintenance animals, providing flexible investment and farming options. Even if you don’t have the spare space on your property, or don’t own farming land, you can still invest in your own alpacas. You can breed your alpacas while agisting them, removing the necessity of land ownership and maintenance by sharing the resources of other farmers. If owning property is a dream you’re soon to realise, you can use agistment to develop an alpaca herd before you move onto your own property, so that you are able to make full use of your land as soon as you occupy it.
Agistment also supports those who wish to show their alpacas in competitions, but do not have the resources to house them. By agisting show alpacas, the animals have company as part of a natural herd life, which is the best way of living for these highly social animals.
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.
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
Interested in learning more about alpacas and worms?
A few years ago several breeders participated in the study on gastrointestinal worms (nematodes) in alpacas. The authors of this study are Jane Vaughan, Mohammed Rashid, Abdul Jabbar. Link to published study below.
You may also be interested to read the AAA Members Advice_Parasites worms
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.
To find out how to body condition score your alpacas, please click on the Top 10 tips of alpaca nutrition. Jane Vaughan BVSc PhD MACVSc
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.
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.
Excerpt from CriaGenesis (Dr Jane Vaughan) website – “Top ten tips of alpaca nutrition” To read more please click on below link.
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.
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” To read more please click on below link.
An article written by Andrea Glew, Hill Farrance Alpacas (stud no longer current)
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. (See article in “Alpacas Australia” Magazine Issue 52, Autumn 2007)
- Unhappy demeanor.
- Jaw abscess.
For more information on dental issues of alpacas please
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.