Care of Alpacas in Winter

As we come into winter, there are a few things to think about in terms of caring for our alpacas:

Vaccination

Like most of our farmed species, alpacas should be routinely vaccinated for Clostridial diseases. These are a number of different diseases, such a tetanus and botulism, which are caused by bacteria found in the soil. They most often cause sudden death, so it is really important to vaccinate all of our animals against Clostridia. Ideally, we time breeding female’s booster vaccinations to be given 6-8 weeks pre-giving birth. This is to make sure there are high numbers of antibodies within their colostrum. As no antibodies are passed through the placenta, it is really important that the cria receive this colostrum to gain these protective antibodies.

There are many different protocol used when vaccinating alpacas, with no single protocol proven to work best. The table below shows the different protocols available. Please speak to one of our vets to help decide which protocol is best for your animals.

Vitamin D

Alpacas absorb UV light from the sun, which is converted to vitamin D within their skin. This vitamin D is used for skin health, bone growth and calcium regulation. Since removing them from their natural sunny environment, they now have a lack of UV exposure during winter months in the UK. Therefore, they cannot make vitamin D for themselves and we see disease such as Rickets, where bones are not calcified correctly and become misshapen and painful. Therefore, we must supplement them with vitamin D during the winter.

Supplementation is available in injectable and oral forms. Dosing should be as accurate as possible, as overdosing can cause vitamin D toxicity.

Injectable products – 1000IU Vitamin D/kg bodyweight SC. Repeat every 2 months from November to February.
Oral products – 1000IU Vitamin D/kg bodyweight orally. Repeat every 6 weeks.

It is particularly important to supplement growing animals or those that are thin or unwell throughout winter. Healthy adults should receive a single dose in early winter.

Please speak to one of our vets to discuss vitamin D supplementation of your alpacas this winter or phone the farm office to book a visit for us to vaccinate and supplement their vitamin D.