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An assessment of worm control practices used by alpaca farmers in Australia

Rashid, Mohammed H., Stevenson, Mark A., Campbell, Angus J.D., Vaughan, Jane L., Beveridge, Ian, Jabbar, Abdul
Veterinary parasitology 2019 v.265 pp. 91-100
Haemonchus, abamectin, albendazole, alpacas, cattle, closantel, demography, deworming, farmers, farms, gastrointestinal nematodes, grazing management, herds, levamisole, nematode control, quarantine, questionnaires, sheep, surveys, Australia
This study aimed to assess current worm control practices used by Australian alpaca farmers with an online questionnaire survey. The questionnaire contained questions about farm demography and general husbandry practices, farmers’ knowledge about gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) and their importance, the use of worm control strategies and anthelmintics, and grazing management. A link for the questionnaire survey was sent to all (n = 954) registered members of the Australian Alpaca Association in July 2015. The response rate for the questionnaire was 25% (239/954). The majority of respondents were from small (≤ 50 alpacas; 64%, 153/239) followed by medium (50–100 alpacas; 24%, 57/239) and large (>100 alpacas; 12%, 29/239) farms. Findings revealed that the majority of respondents kept Huacaya alpacas to produce high-quality fibre and alpacas were usually kept with other domestic ruminants (e.g. cattle and sheep). Although half of alpaca farmers (114/220) perceived that GINs were an important health problem of alpacas, with Haemonchus spp. being the most common nematode, the majority of them (174/220) used anthelmintics for nematode control. Macrocyclic lactones, a commercial combination of four anthelmintics (abamectin, albendazole, closantel and levamisole) and monepantel were the three most commonly used dewormers by Australian alpaca farmers. Although a significant proportion (166/213) of respondents used a quarantine drench for alpacas, very few respondents were aware of strategic deworming and the issue of anthelmintic resistance. Alpaca farmers mostly used anthelmintics at the dose rate recommended for sheep (47%, 79/167) and cattle (9%, 15/167), though some used 1.5 (31%, 51/167) and 2 (13%, 22/167) times the dose rate recommended for sheep. The majority of small herds used anthelmintics at the dose rate recommended for sheep and cattle while medium and large herds used anthelmintics at 1.5 to 2 times the dose rate recommended for sheep. This study provides invaluable insights into the demography of alpaca farms in Australia, husbandry practices used by alpaca farmers and their knowledge about worms and their control, thereby paving the way for developing guidelines for the control of GINs of alpacas.