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Managing alpaca welfare

Published: Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 12:00:00 AM

The Ranger has been made aware of a number of alpacas living in the shire that are owned by residents as pets and may not have the necessary knowledge and experience of alpacas to care for them appropriately - that is, under Australian conditions and as per the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

A brief summary of the basic annual required care for alpacas is explained below.


alpacaRegardless of the fleece quality, alpacas in Western Australia should be shorn once a year, preferably in spring before seed set and after the coldest weather has passed. This avoids newly shorn animals enduring a cold winter with no protection and heat stress or sunburn if shorn in summer.

Toenail trimming

Alpacas have soft padded feet with two toes on each foot and a soft leathery pad. The nail on each toe should be level with the pad as overgrown nails twist and may cause lameness. Generally nails are clipped about every six months but animals grazing on soft ground will need trimming more frequently than those on hard ground.

Teeth care

Incisors that grow beyond the dental pad look unsightly and may influence eating efficiency. Small amounts of tooth may be trimmed back using a suitable file or an electric grinder (angle or rotary).

Males develop fighting teeth at about 2 years of age (around sexual maturity) and these should be trimmed back to avoid injuries being inflicted on other males. Fighting teeth should only be trimmed with obstetric wire, as repeated trimming may expose the pulp cavity and lead to infection of the tooth. A demonstration from a competent person is imperative before an alpaca owner attempts any teeth trimming for the first time.

For further information and any assistance with any queries relating to alpacas and their care, please contact Mr Peter Richards of Suncloud Alpacas on 0488 414 020.

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