Tuberculosis (TB)

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Alpacas appear to be somewhat resistant to TB.  In the 30 odd years (1985-2015) alpacas have been farmed and tested for tuberculosis (TB) in NZ, there have been very few (under 5) reported cases of reactors (animals which have a positive TB test).

Because neither alpacas, nor their by-products (milk etc), are generally eaten in New Zealand, TB testing is not compulsory. Currently alpacas move freely around the country, unlike TB susceptible species (such as deer and cattle).

If you wish to compete in Alpaca competitions hosted by A&P associations, it is a requirement by the Alpaca Association that competing alpacas are TB tested within 2 months prior to the show, or come from a herd that has a regular testing scheme in place. Also, some stud farms may require that your alpaca is TB tested before they will accept your female for mating.

TB testing is carried out by AgriQuality (MAF), and is very cheap compared to other veterinary procedures. Because TB testing is voluntary, it is not free, however AgriQuality , however it is very low compared to veterinary procedures. 

Because of its voluntary nature, it is up to you whether you participate in a scheme or not. If you have only two or three pets, which never travel, and do not come into contact with other alpacas, deer, cattle or possums, you may feel it is not an essential item of alpaca management. If however, you wish to travel alpacas at all (including travel for buying, selling and mating purposes), you may find it more convenient to have annual or regular testing, rather than spot checks prior to travel.

If you are cross grazing your alpacas with stock that require testing (such as deer or cattle), then it is an easy choice to have your alpacas tested at the same time as your other stock species.

Regular TB testing must match the requirements for cattle and deer in your area (your AgriQuality technician should be able to advise you on this, or you can check it on the TB website, ). All animals on a property should be tested at the same time – although immature stock (eg cria) are exempt from testing. The test is usually given in the area of bare skin behind the foreleg. The tester will return 2 days later, and check to see if there has been any reaction in the form of a lump at the injection site. If all your stock is clear, you will be given a certificate to state this, which should also show how many years your stock has tested clear.