Llamas & alpacas
Standard operating procedures for herd health
- The llama/alpaca herd health standard operating procedure (SOP) applies to all llamas/alpacas owned by WSU and defines the minimum preventative herd health.
- Exceptions to the llama/alpaca herd health SOP must be approved in an IACUC-approved animal protocol.
- Animals will be observed at a minimum of once per day. Observations will be recorded on the Daily Care Sheet.
- All veterinary assessments and procedures must be documented in the animal’s medical record.
Introduction of new animals
- Assign a herd number/name and begin a new animal record (acquisition information).
- Complete a physical exam by a veterinarian, veterinary technician or trained animal care technician.
- Conduct the following based on the incoming health history of the individual animal and herd:
- Consider necessity of PCR testing for bovine viral diarrhea virus depending on herd history.
- Isolate in an area that prevents nose to nose contact with any resident camelids and use dedicated equipment if possible for that animal for 14 days. Observe closely for mentation and signs of illness and treat as needed.
- Perform fecal egg count (FEC) to determine internal parasite load.
- Deworm based on fecal results and veterinary recommendation. Repeat as necessary.
- Vaccinate against Clostridium perfringens types C and D and Clostridium tetani if needed. Alternatives and additions to core vaccines such as rabies and leptospirosis can be made on a case-by-case basis with veterinarian approval and documentation in the medical record.
- Once the isolation period is over, introduce the new animal to the herd and observe for social incompatibility.
Herd health maintenance
- All assessments and procedures must be documented in the individual medical record.
- Annual exams will be performed on each llama/alpaca by a veterinarian, veterinary technician or trained animal care technician.
- Vaccinate annually against Clostridium perfringens types C and D and Clostridium tetani.
- The need for additional vaccinations such as West Nile virus, rabies, Leptospira, encephalomyelopathy (caused by equine herpesvirus-1) should be based on risk.
- Environmental management is an important component in parasite control. Dung piles should be cleared at least weekly or biweekly.
- Fecal screening should be performed annually on the herd. If there are high egg counts detected, selected deworming should be performed at the direction of a veterinarian.
- Annual shearing in the spring should be performed. This can be a whole-body clip or “barrel clip” at least annually.
- Teeth should be examined annually and floated as needed.
- Feet/toenails should be evaluated quarterly and trimmed if needed.
- Body condition scoring (BCS) should be performed quarterly to ensure timely intervention for disease processes such as overgrown incisors.
- Administer annual PCV and TP for camelids over age 17.
Minor cuts, scrapes, or abrasions
- If a llama/alpaca is noted to have minor cuts, wounds or abrasions, the area should be cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine or betadine (or equivalent) and a commercial salve or wound coat applied along with fly spray if in fly season. This can be done once daily for 2-7 days, while ensuring that the wound is healing and there is no worsening. If at any time the wound is draining or worsening, a veterinarian will need to assess and make a specific plan for the animal.
- Daily documentation of treatment is necessary either in the form of a treatment sheet or in the medical record (blue sheets).
- Llama/alpaca should be supplied with approximately 2% of their body weight in dry matter for maintenance, with pregnant, lactating or growing animals consuming 1.5 to 2 times that amount.
- Palatable camelid or sheep labeled mineral mixes should be offered in every herd. Cattle, goat or horse mineral should not be offered to camelids because of the risk of copper toxicity.
- Abrupt changes to the diet should be avoided, any changes should be introduced gradually over a period of several days.
- If camelids are fed in groups, adequate manger space or separate feeding areas should be available to minimize competition for feed.
- Camelids must have unlimited access to fresh water.
To obtain the documents below in a form accessible to persons with disabilities, please contact the Office of the Campus Veterinarian.
- “Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus in Camelids,” College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, June 2019
- “Camelid Herd Health,” Meredyth Jones, DVM, MS and Melanie Boileau, DVM, MS, Veterinary Clinics: Food Animal Practice, July 2009, Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 239–263 (pdf)
- Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching, 2020, American Dairy Science Association, the American Society of Animal Science, and the Poultry Science Association (pdf)
Approval date: 021618 NW