Alpacas must be suitably identified applicable to the production system and current regulations.

Approved activities Category
4. Ear marking/tagging of livestock 3
6. Hoof paring: sheep, goats & alpacas 3
9. Shearing of alpacas & llamas 4

Routine husbandry activities for alpacas include:

  • internal parasite control
  • external parasite control
  • vaccination
  • identification (microchipping, ear tagging)
  • castration
  • hoof trimming
  • teeth trimming (this is to be done by an experienced person only)
  • shearing.

It is essential that appropriate facilities and equipment be used for these practices.

Castration can only be carried out by a veterinarian.

Teeth trimming

A veterinarian should be consulted in reference to trimming alpaca’s teeth. Alpacas only have incisor teeth in the lower jaw and bite their food against a pad in the upper jaw. They have both upper and lower molars.

Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation regarding teeth trimming, which often leads to cruelty. Alpaca teeth must only be trimmed when necessary. Frequency of teeth trimming depends upon the food that the alpaca eats. Animals with a very high fibre diet with access to branches and tougher grass species will need less frequent teeth trimming as opposed to alpacas fed primarily on concentrates and chaff.


Regardless of whether an alpaca is being used for fleece production, routine shearing must occur each spring. This prevents the alpacas from becoming too hot and suffering heat stress in the summer periods. Alpacas are shorn using an alternative method to both sheep and goats. An experienced alpaca shearer should always be employed to perform this task.

Alpacas are restrained by being stretched out on the floor or low table and having their legs tied to wooden spacers. A handler holds the head of the animal. When one side of the animal has been shorn, the animal is flipped over and the other side is shorn. It is essential that a handler holds the alpaca’s head throughout the entire process as there is serious risk of neck injury if the alpaca is to struggle.

Alpaca shearing requires experience and expertise and should never be performed entirely by inexperienced handlers as it can result in injury to both animal and handler.

Shearing described by an agriculture teacher

Image: Alpacas must be restrained for shearing. A handler must hold the animal's head.

Nail trimming

Alpacas toenails require regular trimming otherwise they become long, deformed and uncomfortable for the alpaca. Dry, rocky paddocks will result in less frequent need for trimming, while wet, soft ground will result in more frequent hoof trimming being required. Seasonal changes should be taken into consideration as the alpacas will need more regular trimming during wetter months.

Hoof paring described by an agriculture student

Image: Alpacas’ toenails require regular trimming otherwise they become long, deformed and uncomfortable for the alpaca.

NLIS tags

Registered alpacas are identified with a brass ear tag in the left ear for males and right ear for females. An additional plastic ear tag can be placed in the opposite ear.

The alpaca and llama industry have identified that the introduction of a national identification and traceability scheme is integral to the future development of the industry.

Although NLIS is only just starting to regulate the identification and movement of alpacas and llamas in Australia, rules have been written in draft describing the regulations of tagging and movement of alpacas within Australia. Some of these major rules include:

  • all alpacas and llamas must be ear tagged with an NLIS tag in the left ear for males and the right ear for females
  • alpacas will have a breeder tag (green)and a post breeder tag(pink) for when they move off the property where they were born
  • NLIS tags must never be removed until death or slaughter
  • additional tags should never be attached
  • property identification codes should be stamped on the NLIS ear tag
  • in the event of an emergency such as flood or fire, animals may be moved without an NLIS tag with approval from authorities, however in all normal situations animals must be tagged before being moved to a new property or to a sale yard
  • properties must be registered with a property identification code (PIC).

NLIS Alpaca and llama

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