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Keeping Records

Keeping records of your alpacas is advisable for future reference. Imagine if your doctor had no previous records of your health, it would make it very hard for the doctor to make a proper diagnosis with no prior medical history. Alpacas are the same. If you have a thorough medical history, it can make it easier for the vet to make a proper diagnosis.

What information to record?
Apart from the obvious records such as date of birth, colour, Dam, Sire, gender. It a good idea to record birthing facts for females, such as 'hard birth', 'easy birth', 'retained placenta', etc. This information is handy so you have an idea of what to expect in future birthing.

Injections dates and descriptions are essential to record, as well as any history of illness or visits to the vet, and any medication used.

How to keep records.
There are basically three ways to keep records of your alpacas:

Written Journal - A record book is ideal for a small herd. It is the easiest method and ideal for those who are not computer literate.

Computer Spreadsheet - Programs such as Microsoft Excel (Bundled with Microsoft Office) are ideal for keeping records. Excel is easy to use, allows basic manipulation of data, and allows the user to print out records or share information electronically with others. Excel spreadsheets can easily be imported into a database.

Computer Database - A database such as Microsoft Access is ideal for larger herds. It partially resembles a spreadsheet although it is much more flexible with what it allows you to do with the data. Each alpaca is regarded as it's own 'record' and is stored in a table. Each piece of data (age, DOB, colour, etc) is a 'field'. A database will allow you to search for certain information via a 'Query'. A Query, for example, can create a report of all alpacas born to a certain male of female, or any alpaca born over a certain age, etc. There are many queries that can be performed and many different reports that can be generated. Queries are very handy if you want to analyse your herd in different ways.

We started our records in a written journal, then progressed to a computer spreadsheet, and have now moved onto an Access database. If you plan on establishing a large herd and are wanting to analyse your herd, a database is the best option. Most commercial herd management software packages are based on a database. The Internet has many sites with free tutorial on how to use Access if you are interested in starting a database.

Alpaca Maintenance - More information on alpacas

Putting weight on thin alpacas
Fencing for alpacas
How to determine signs of a sick alpaca
Basic first aid kit for alpacas
Alpaca body temperatures
Can cold and wet weather affect alpacas?
Making sense of the alpaca fibre analysis
Rye grass staggers
Taking the perfect alpaca photograph
Facial abscess
Berserk male syndrome
Vitamin D
Constipated crias
Preparation for Winter
Keeping alpaca records
Alpacas need head-space
Testing for parasites
Birthing help
Cutting Toenails
A Working Dog's Guide to Alpacas
Paddock Maintenance
Alpacas for Pets
Alpacas as Sheep Guardians