McMatley LLC Alpacas
the farmthe animalsthe showsthe spotlightthe studsfor saleget in touch
Alpaca Fiber

Our Foundation Herd

Hands-On Tips for Raising Alpacas
E-mail us
Request Information


Hands-On Tips for Raising Alpacas


Alpacas require a number of regular shots to maintain their health from Clostridium, D?, and Tetanus (CD&T), rabies, to worming medications. Of these, only rabies is given IM (intra-muscular). The rest are given just below the skin or sub cue (sub-cutaneous). For alpacas we give IM shots in the rump area. Sub-cue shots are given by lifting a flap of loose skin near the front leg and inserting the needle just below the skin to inject the medicine, avoiding any muscle penetration. It is a good idea on sub-cue shots to pull back on the plunger a bit to make sure there is no blood. This would indicate that a vein has been pierced, and the vaccine must not be delivered without trying again.

Nail Trims

Most alpacas require two adults to trim their hoofs. We use wire snips (with the pointed edge ground down) available from alpaca supply companies. For animals born on our farm, training the animals to cooperate during hoof trimming begins at an early age. We touch the crias’ legs and hoofs as we handle them for daily weighing to make this contact less traumatic later. Initial hoof trims on crias are most easily done by lifting them off the ground and holding the cria with arms wrapped around the front and back legs so that the nails can be easily trimmed. For older alpacas one person (the handler) will immobilize the alpaca while the person trimming the hoofs (trimmer) slides their hands down the alpaca’s leg, and after the weight is shifted off that leg folds it back under (front legs) or behind (back legs) the body. Allow the alpaca to lean on the handler and the trimmer to maintain balance. Many alpacas require a knee placed under their chest or abdomen to prevent them from cushing. More skittish alpacas may need to lean against a wall opposite the handler to prevent them from spinning away. Learning how much to trim and how to do it should be done in person, so make sure you learn from the farm you are buying from before bringing your animals home.


The techniques we use for shearing are geared toward the safety and comfort of the animal, and towards maximizing the useable fleece harvested. We adapted a system of soft nylon ropes used by other farms to restrain the animal by looping a rope around each leg and slowly stretching them as they lie down to restrict their movement. This method, used by Australian sheep farmers, keeps the animals from moving at an inopportune time, so that they can have their fleece removed evenly with less chance of getting cut by the electric shears. Our method involves laying out a large bed of hay stacked two bales high with a tarp over it for easy cleanup. The handlers lead the animal next to the bales of hay, reach around them to immobilize their legs, and then gently tip them over on their sides.

This method has a couple of advantages: the alpaca is neither lifted up onto the hay nor dropped down to the ground avoiding injuries to handler and alpaca alike. Next, the shearer and handlers are able to work at near waist height, bending much less, or can kneel on the softer bales of hay rather than the barn floor. One person holds the head and neck and often another person holds the back legs. The shearer generally starts at the center of the alpaca’s belly and shears around the blanket towards the backbone before the handlers rotate the animal to the other side. The legs and neck can be worked in at any time. The shearer shears as close to the skin as is reasonable during the first cut, and after the usable blanket is gathered up, trims the remaining fiber from the legs and makes any second cuts to even out the fleece.

P.O. Box 2488, Purcellville, Virginia 20134-2488  (540) 338-2045

Copyright © McMatley LLC Alpacas. All rights reserved.