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Vet Scales

and Body Scoring

Veterinary scales are important tool in evaluating an animal's health. It's recommended that you weight your animals monthly on veterinary scales and record the results. A monthly vet scale check will tell you if a pregnant female or cria is gaining weigh appropriately, A vet scale check will also give an early warning to possible worm infestations.

Body scoring is another way to check an alpacas weight and body condition. It works in concert with using a vet scale and controlling the amount of alpaca pellets they eat. In winter, alpacas and can lose condition, because of malnutrition, and this can be masked by the fiber covering on the animal. Worm infestation can also cause an animal to become sickly and thin. While overfeeding pellets can cause obesity. vet scale, alpaca pellets

There are many causes of malnutrition and obesity in alpacas and llamas. In each case, the way to effect a remedy is to notice it early, and react to the signs. The best way to check is to get your hands on the animal and "body score" it. You should also use a vet scale to weigh your animals at least monthly.

The following pictures relate to the backbone of the camelid, just forward of the pelvic area. The comments on the right also refer to the feel of the ribs and brisket.

Score 1: Backbone very prominent. Ribs are clearly felt. Brisket shows no fat. This animal is severely undernourished. Get on good pasture and supplemental feed rapidly. Do fecal egg count. If eggs, or if no improvement, get the vet. A "score 1" means your animal is dangerously sick. Don’t wait, take action now – and that probably means calling your vet.

Score 2: Can feel backbone, ribs are prominent, firm brisket. Thin animal. Check pastures, supplement feed, may consider faecal egg count dependent on age, pasture, and season.


Score 3: This animal is fine. Can feel the backbone, but does not stand out. Can just feel ribs. Brisket has some movement when handled.


Score 4: Described as "somewhat overweight". Difficult feeling backbone, cannot feel ribs. Nothing to worry about, but cut back on supplemental feed.


Score 5: Obese! Cannot feel backbone or ribs, brisket wobbles when touched. This animal is a problem and may have difficulty with reproduction. Obesity can be difficult to deal with. Cut out the supplemental feed, but continue to offer free choice minerals. You may increase exercise by putting water at one end of a very long fully grazed yard, and hay at the other.

Camelids can get worms, especially when grazing in winter on short grass, and forced to eat near their dung piles, or when grazing with other animals (e.g.sheep). If you suspect worms, have your vet performa fecal egg count. And test the most susceptible animals in the herd first – those ages 3 months to 9 months old. If there is no problem here it is unlikely in the rest of the herd. If your animal has worms, it may need to get supplemental vitamins and iron. Ask your vet to provide an iron tonic to boost the red blood cell count.

This page was last updated on June 10, 2009.

Able Oaks Ranch 6167 FM1857 S. Rusk TX 75785 | 903-530-1009