Compared with other livestock, alpacas are relatively disease free. Because of their dry fleece and naturally clean breech, fly strike is not an issue, nor do they require mulesing or crutching.
They are vaccinated twice yearly with the same ‘5 in 1’ vaccine used for sheep and goats to protect against tetanus, pulpy kidney, black leg, black disease and malignant oedema.
Some geographic locations also vaccinate against leptospirosis with ‘7 in 1’, so check with other experienced alpaca breeders in your area or with your local agricultural authority. Likewise, alpaca owners need to know if they are in a ‘sporidesmin’ area. Sporidesmin is the toxin in a fungus that causes facial excema and can be fatal. However, it is confined to specific geographic locations and is easily managed by not allowing animals to graze on affected pastures during warm and humid weather. Restrictions of animal movements may apply, particularly between some states.
Breeders have the opportunity to participate in either or both of the animal health/bio-security programs currently being conducted to provide assurance of their animals’ health status. Animal Health Australia administers the Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Alpaca (JD MAP) which deals with Johne’s Disease only. The Australian Alpaca Association also administers the Q-Alpaca Program which covers a broad range of diseases.
When buying alpacas for breeding purposes it is advisable to arrange a veterinary check to ensure you are buying a healthy animal.