Parasites during winter

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A review of submission results for alpaca faecal egg counts across Victoria over the last few months has shown that gastrointestinal parasite surveillance has been sporadic at best, but thankfully most counts have been low. There has been a shift by alpaca breeders to request more bulk faecal egg counts rather than individual counts. The up-side of bulk counts is the lower cost, the down-side being that animals with high faecal egg counts that warrant worm treatment, are masked by others in the group with low counts. Remember that 10% of your herd carry the majority of worms.

There was one faecal culture performed in winter, and it indicated 100% barber’s pole worm (BPW; Haemonchus contortus) in the sample. Historically, BPW has been a worm associated with warm, wet conditions. Never take your eye off BPW, as this parasite is now over-wintering in the relatively mild Victorian winters. These worms are prolific egg layers and worm numbers can build up rapidly.

Co-grazing with other livestock. Below is an example of individual faecal egg counts performed on sheep and alpacas grazed on the same farm, BUT RUN IN SEPARATE PADDOCKS AT ALL TIMES. If you co-graze alpacas with other livestock, make sure you perform faecal egg counts on all species that are sharing paddocks either concurrently or consecutively.

Sheep number epg   Alpaca number epg
1 1800 1 0
2 4500 2 0
3 5820 3 0
4 660 4 120
5 9240 5 240
6 1440 6 0
7 60
8 12420
9 5400
10 1560
11 0
12 0
Average EPG 3575   Average EPG 60