- Don’t Let the Fluff Fool Ya! – Alpacas Look Fat and Happy in the Winter with all that Fleece but they may actually be loosing weight under all that fleece. Be sure to get your hands on them and body score at least once a month to be sure they are still in good body condition and you don’t have any surprise “skinnies” in your herd. You want to catch any problems early.
- Alpacas don’t like to drink freezing cold water when temps are frigid. Try to give them warm water to drink when it’s cold out if at all possible. They will drink more and stay hydrated better. Remove the ice chips from their buckets at the very least.
- Check their gums. Pale gums can be indicative of parasites and/or iron deficiencies. Alpacas can suffer from this even in the winter in certain climates. (We do this monthly during herd health.)
- Have vitamins like Vitacharge and supplemental feeds like crushed alfalfa or beet pulp on hand for those animals that need a little bit extra in the nutrition department.
- In climates with rough winters, consider weaning before or after the worst of winter. Wean cria in groups if possible and if you can, move the dams instead of the cria. That way the cria stay in the same environment and the only thing they are losing is mom, not everything around them too. The stress of weaning is tough, and extreme temperatures can be the last straw for a severely stressed cria who is not adjusting well.
Following these tips may save you & your alpacas some unnecessary hassles and heartaches this winter season. What are some other things alpaca breeders should be mindful of this time of year? I’d love to hear from you.