Generally, alpacas are susceptible to internal parasites in much the same way that cattle and sheep are.
Alpacas share some internal parasites with both sheep and cattle but not all from either. As a result of this overlap, alpacas run with sheep or cattle pick up more internal parasites than in situations where alpaca are run as a single species.
The management strategies to control parasites do not differ from other species. A number of options are available:
Removing dung from paddocks can help reduce the worm burden.
Drenching – most alpacas only need worming twice a year provided the property has only small numbers of alpacas, sheep and cattle. However, more regular worming is needed if animal numbers are high. The most critical time to drench an alpaca is within 3 weeks of weaning. Crias often develop a significant worm burden in the weeks after weaning. This can result in severe weight loss which may lead to death when combined with other stresses around weaning.
Pasture renewal, regrassing or hay/silage manufacturing are all options that can help to lower larval burdens.
Faecal egg counts are a useful tool to diagnose a worm challenge in young alpacas less than one year of age.
For more information on the best management option for your property and animals, please contact one of our friendly vets.