ALPACAS were first imported to the UK from South America and they have been increasing in popularity ever since. They are adapted to high altitudes and the dry climate in the Andes rather than the rain and lush pastures we are accustomed to in Cumbria.

In the UK, Alpacas are most commonly kept for fleece production or as pets. However, regardless of the size of the herd, it is important to have good husbandry and a plan for routine treatments throughout the year to prevent disease. It should be noted that certain antibiotics can be toxic to alpacas.

Vitamin D supplementation

Alpacas depend heavily on UV light for the production of vitamin D in the skin. In the UK, during autumn/winter alpacas struggle to access enough UV light to produce adequate vitamin D and require supplementation. Without supplementation they can develop a disease called Rickets. They can become lethargic and have a reduced appetite. Growing animals can have stunted growth and develop limb deformities.Vitamin D can be given by a regular injection, an oral paste or through supplementing the feed. Discuss with your vet which is the best option for your herd.

Parasite control

Alpacas are susceptible to similar internal parasites as sheep and cattle. Recently weaned animals and those in their first grazing season are more at risk. By their second year they develop some immunity and are at less risk. They are also susceptible to liver fluke and coccidiosis. It is good practice to submit faecal samples to your vets for worm and fluke egg counts before dosing. A sheep dose by weight would be appropriate. Regular body condition scoring and pasture management techniques should also be included in your herds control plan.

Work with your vet to develop a parasite control plan tailored to your specific circumstances. It is important to note that it is easy to give a toxic dose using Levamisoles (yellow wormer) so it is best to use either Benzimadazoles (white wormer) or Macrocyclic Lactones (clear wormer).


Alpacas are susceptible to clostridial diseases, just like sheep. Therefore, it is recommended to vaccinate them. The vaccines are not licensed in alpacas but the same dose you would give to a sheep would be appropriate.

Routine procedures

You should regularly handle your alpacas from ‘head to toe’ to get them used to being handled, this will help you to carry out routine procedures safely. Alpacas should be sheared once a year during the summer, otherwise the fleece can grow too long. Shearing is a good time to combine other routine procedures such as toe trimming and body condition scoring.

Toe trimming, as with sheep, is ideally done a 3-4 times per year but it depends on the ground they are on. Ideally the nails should be at the level of the pad.


While alpacas are not required to be routinely tested for bovine tuberculosis (bTB), they can become infected. In England, there is no current requirement to report a suspected case of TB. However, it is recommended to ask your vet to post-mortem any animals that die suddenly.