Husbandry Calendar

The following pages contain a suggested list of ‘things to do’ and when you might do them. It’s based on the experience of breeders and owners living in the SWAG area and on training days, blogs, Newsletter articles, alpaca periodicals, text books  and of course, discussion with members.

We haven’t included a regime for the administration of routine preventative treatments such as for clostridia and for parasite control as these are tied to birth and herd management practices. If you are new to alpacas, then the breeder from whom you buy your first animals should give you comprehensive advice and support, in accordance with the BAS Code of Conduct. You may wish to supplement that advice by talking to other established owners nearby, or vets with alpaca experience – or contact any member of the swag Committee who will be pleased to help.

Alpacas are generally considered to be easy animals to look after – they rarely need dagging (removing mucky fibre from under the tail) and they tend not to suffer from fly strike or foot-rot. Most owners have a regular routine of catching and checking their animals at least once a month. Not only does this get the animals used to being handled, but you can check (and record) their body score, their jaws for any abscesses, their teeth for being over  or under shot, their toenails for trimming and their skin for any signs of mites or other problems. This is also of course an excellent opportunity to give the animals any injections, drenches or other treatments. Cria (new born and young alpaca) should be weighed regularly at first and if facilities can be arranged, it is a good idea to keep a weight records of adults.

Alpacas tend to use latrines, rather than scattering their dropping. Many owners collect dung frequently – often daily – to reduce the worm burden in the pasture and to remove traces of chemical residues from veterinary treatments. Vacuum cleaners and sweepers are available to help mechanise this task. Other owners prefer to harrow their land thereby returning more nutrients to the soil. Commercial agronomists will (for a price) advise on questions such as fertilization and weed control. Some of the large agricultural supplies store offer this service free of charge in the expectation that you will buy from them.

January

Feed hay ad lib, feed nursing dams extra protein.Husbandry January

Body score, check for jaw abscesses and look for evidence of mites.

Check toenails and trim if necessary, inspect teeth and arrange to file fighting teeth if needed – possibly at shearing time.

Wean and insert microchips in any cria who are 6 now months old.

Use the winter months to clean thoroughly equipment such as nail clippers, halters, buckets etc.

Plan your field/paddock rotation for the coming year.

Plan matings for this year, especially if you want to avoid winter births.

Devise your advertising strategy.

Submit articles and adverts for inclusion in the SWAG newsletter.

Select your show team and decide which shows you plan to attend.

Castrate males over eighteen months of age in winter to avoid the possibility of fly strike.

Give all the herd an injectable supplement of ADE or use paste.

Arrange for cover if you are planning to be away from the herd.

February

Look out for information  about events such as The British Alpaca Futurity.

Ascertain the health status of your herd.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Decide what your herd training needs are and start to halter train last year’s cria ready for this year’s shows.

Check fences and make repairs to weak spots.

Feed hay ad lib, feed nursing dams extra protein.

Book a shearer or prepare your own shearing equipment.Husbandry February

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites, check toenails.

Vaccinate against Liver fluke/lungworm if appropriate.

March

Prepare a birthing kit including plasma or colostrum, stomach tube, towels, bubble wrap or cria coat, disinfectant, scales, lambing tapes, lubricant gloves, glucose, alpaca teats and bottle.

Weigh any new born cria, record birth, weight and other details. Husbandry March

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

 Wean and insert (or ask your vet to insert) microchips in cria who are 6 months old.

If possible and you are expecting births, take  blood from geldings for plasma, alternatively identify a reliable and geographically close source.

Order microchips and ear tags for this year’s cria.

Order fly deterrent if you use it.

Feed hay ad lib, feed nursing dams extra protein.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites, check toenails.

Drench or Vaccinate against Liver fluke/lungworm if appropriate.

Look out for information about this year’s shows and closing dates for entry.

April

Take faecal egg counts and treat herd if appropriate.

Confirm breeding programme and begin matings for births in March next year.

Move the show team (if you have one) into a clean paddock or field.

Plant new grasses on tired fields – a mixture of Timothy, Fescue, Bent grasses, and a small amount of rye – usually only necessary every 15 years.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites, check toenails.

Weigh new born cria and record birth and weight and other  details. Husbandry April

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Submit articles and adverts for inclusion in the SWAG newsletter.

May

Decide what you will do with your fleece prior to shearing which begins around now.

Start to clear the fields of ragwort, thistles, burrs and young oaks or oak leaves.

Cut and wrap hay and haylage from now until September.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites, check toenails.

Weigh new born cria and record birth and weight and other details.Husbandry May

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Take photographs of young alpacas playing in the light evenings.

Shows will be starting around this time.

June

Shear alpacas not entering halter classes – trim teeth including fighting teeth if necessary and also nails.

Sort and skirt the fleece ready for processing.

Have fleece samples analysed.  Husbandry June

Continue to clear the fields of unwanted and poisonous plants before they flower.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites.

Weigh new born cria and record birth and weight and other details.

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

July

Finish shearing and skirting fleece, have the fleece processed or store securely.

Book a fleece processing slot for the following year.

Send fleece samples for analysis. 

Look out for fly strike.Husbandry July

Submit articles and adverts for inclusion in the SWAG newsletter.

Continue to clear the fields of ragwort, thistles, burrs and oak leaves.

If needed Plant clover on cold slopes.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites.

Weigh new born cria and record their birth and weight and other details.

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

August

Continue to cut hay if you have hay fields, ensuring there is no ragwort in the grass.

Start a new dung heap leaving the old one to break down into manure to sell.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and look for evidence of mites, check toenails and trim if necessary.

Weigh new born cria and record their weight and other details.Husbandry August

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Look out for fly strike.

September

Select future breeding males.

Scan pregnant females.Husbandry September

Finish cutting hay and haylage.

Use selective weed killer on buttercups, thistles, burdocks, nettles etc.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and toenails and look for evidence of mites.

Weigh new born cria and record birth and weight and other details.

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Feed pregnant and feeding dams extra protein.

Vaccinate against Liver fluke/lungworm if appropriate.

Look out for fly strike.

Give supplement of vitamins ADE females due to give birth in 6 to 8 weeks time and young alpaca.

October

Give first supplement of vitamins ADE to dark coated, growing and females due to give birth in 6 to 8 weeks time.

Submit articles and adverts for inclusion in the SWAG newsletter.

Cease matings to avoid winter births.

Buy in or ensure you have enough hay to last the winter season.

Have a shelter available for winter emergencies.Husbandry October

Check the anti-freeze in tractors and other equipment with water cooled engines.

Make an inspection of saws etc. and oil if necessary.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and toenails, look for evidence of mites.

Weigh new born cria and record birth and weight and other details.

Give new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.

Feed hay ad lib and give pregnant and feeding dams extra protein.

November

Feed hay ad lib, feed pregnant and nursing dams extra protein.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and toenails, look for evidence of mites and treat.

Weigh late born cria and monitor weight gain, record details.

Give any new born cria an anti clostridial preparation at 4 days old and again at 2-3 weeks.Husbandry November

Give supplement of vitamins ADE to females if you have any who are still to give birth.

Wean and insert microchip cria who are now 6 months old.

Consider giving an Autumn drench of zinc, copper, cobalt, selenium, B12.

Register any cria who are unregistered referring to the BAS colour chart.

Attend the SWAG AGM.

Cut field hedges.

December

Please renew your subscription to SWAG.

Submit your advertisements for inclusion in the next newsletter.

Feed hay ad lib, feed pregnant and nursing dams extra protein.

Body score, check jaws, teeth and toenails, look for evidence of mites and treat if necessary.

Give supplement of vitamins ADE females due to give birth in 6 to 8 weeks time.Husbandry December

Wean and insert microchips in cria who are now 6 months old.