SPCA New Zealand

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Advice & welfare

Llama, Alpaca and other Camelids

Farmed Animals

SPCA advocates for llamas, alpacas, and other camelids to have a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met.

SPCA advocates that llamas, alpacas, and other camelids should always have access to scrub, woodland or pasture which allows for browsing for as much of the year as possible. Shelter and shade must always be available for the animals. Llamas and alpacas should have the opportunity to carry out a range of species-specific behaviours, such as grazing and the formation and maintenance of preferred partner bonds.

SPCA advocates that camelids are kept in stable long-term groups throughout their lives and should never be housed individually.

Camelids should be provided with a compatible companion animal such as another camelid, sheep, or goat, to meet their behavioural needs as herd animals. Camelids are highly social and hierarchical animals that seek comfort in herd situations in which larger groups provide more confidence and security to the individuals within the group. Camelids should only be individually housed if temporarily segregated for veterinary treatment or shearing. In these instances, individually housed camelids should be housed in sight and sound of a companion animal.

SPCA advocates that the castration of llama, alpaca and other camelids must only be carried out by a veterinarian or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Adequate and appropriate medical care must be provided prior to, during and after the operation and include anaesthesia and analgesia

Castration is a routine surgery performed to prevent unwanted offspring and possible health or behavioural issues. However, it is also a painful and stressful procedure with the risk of complications, pain or distress if not performed appropriately or if sufficient pain relief is not administered. The castration of camelids must only be performed by a veterinarian or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian with adequate and appropriate medical care must be provided prior to, during and after the operation and include anaesthesia and analgesia.

Castration is often performed on camelids to reduce undesirable behaviour such as aggression and mounting behaviour and to make male camelids easier to handle. However, early castration is problematic in camelids as it may affect their skeletal and muscle development. Camelids should be allowed to mature sufficiently prior to castration to prevent abnormal development of the musculoskeletal system. Alpaca must not be castrated prior to eight months of age. Llama and guanaco should not be castrated prior to 15 months of age. Owners of llama and guanaco should check with their veterinarian for the most up to date advice on the best age for castration.

SPCA acknowledges the importance of shearing for the welfare of farmed species selected for fibre production.

(See ‘Shearing (including Crutching and Dagging)’ for more information)

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