Below you can find all sorts of useful information about keeping your Camelid friends Happy and Healthy.
Please feel free to read and don't hesitate to contact us if you need any questions answered.
Our Vaccination and Care program is as follows:
Some breeders use different products.
This is our vaccination program and therefore it may not suit everyone.
- Our cria at 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 16 weeks get a Hideject AD&E Vitamin Injection in doses of (1/2ml) (3/4ml) (1ml) respectively.
- During the winter months all alpacas will get 1ml of AD&E. We generally only seem to need one injection during winter, (although two is ideal) and one year had to give another in December as it had been so miserable with rain day after day. The younger animals need it more, and darker alpacas more so than the light coloured ones. Many breeders in Otago and Southland will give three shots two months apart during Autumn and Winter. The main ingredient is the Vitamin D, which alpacas usually soak up from the sun, it keeps their bones strong and healthy. If their Vitamin D levels drop they have difficulty, can get sway/curved backs and their usually straight legs will start to bend.
- Another winter job apart from feeding out the supplementary food is to BSC (Body Condition Score each and every alpaca and Llama. It takes next to no time to check their back line to see that they aren't losing weight which is hidden by their fleece growth.
- Then our cria at 8 weeks get their first Injection also of 5 in 1 (guarding against Pulpy Kidney and Black Leg, Tetanus etc) which is a sensitiser shot and the booster is given 4 weeks later. The initial sensitiser won't work without the booster.
- We also have two pet sheep & four Angora Goats on our property so if the alpacas are in the same paddock as them we give Dectomax, (using the pig rate of 1ml per 33kgs) again in an injection under the skin. Generally only twice a year. But the pregnant females I generally only dose once a year as they are never with our sheep or goats. Again different breeders use different products, it's an individual choice. FEC's (Faecal Egg Counts) are another great way to keep track of your alpacas worm burden.
- Every six months (once at shearing time) we give our Alpacas a 5 in 1 injection. This is given under the skin. We work our cria slowly into the same injection cycle as the our older alpacas to make life nice and simple.
- We also at shearing time trim toe nails and check teeth. We find that sometimes we have to trim nails three times in the year. This is easily done with two people as long as your alpaca feels safe and in balance. Our alpacas mostly have dark nails, the lighter coloured nails seem to grow much more quickly.
- We have shelter sheds in all our paddocks and they do get used. Alpacas hate cold winds, and even really strong North Westerly ones for that matter. In a very heavy rain and especially hail, they'll all make tracks for the sheds.
Alpacas are hardy animals and not really prone to disease, but because they are exotic and we're all still learning about what they can and can not get we all need to take care. They are relatively easy to care for, they are a valuable animal and should be looked after properly. Dealing with foot-rot or fly strike and internal parasites are less of a problem. The normal rules of animal husbandry apply and all alpacas should be well supplied with food, water, given shelter from cold winds. Regular BCS (Body Condition Scoring) is a must.
Cria which do not get sufficient sunlight in their first few months often have low levels of Vitamin D. This is essential for phosphate utilization needed for healthy bone growth. The signs are easily recognised: the cria develops a round- backed posture, has obvious discomfort in moving and tends to walk with a stiff almost painful looking gait. Vitamin D injections and possibly phosphate supplements are needed.
It is now well established that camelids are susceptible to this disease. Although cases are relatively rare and transmission from one animal to another has not been documented, Tb is still a serious issue. The AANZ has set up a procedure for testing and reporting of camelid herd Tb status. The scheme is voluntary but all owners are strongly recommended to take part.
Alpacas are choosey eaters, but are still very curious animals and will reach over fences to great distances to select the food they're seeking.
Be very aware of the following:
- Jerusalem Cherry
- Yew Laurel and Macrocapa
If in doubt pull it out.
FACIAL ECZEMA (FE)
Camelids are particularly sensitive to facial eczema. It is caused by a fungus in the pasture. The ingestion of the fungus called mycotoxin damages the liver and in sufficient quantities is fatal. The occurrence of the fungus and its spores is restricted to the warmer areas of the country and the summer and autumn periods. (We in Fairlie don't have the problem. It seems to be more the North Island) Camelid owners living in areas where FE is known to be a problem would get their vet to arrange for regular counts of spores or purchase equipment to carry out spore counts themselves. Generally animals will show little or no outward signs of the disease which is dangerous. The disease is controlled by fungicide spraying or by supplementary feeding of zinc.
Most perennial rye-grass planted in New Zealand has been deliberately infected with an organism known as endophyte. This provides protection from attack by the Argentine Stem Weevil which can destroy pasture. An unfortunate side effect, the most serious as far as camelids are concerned is ryegrass staggers. Infected ryegrass produces toxins which affect the brain and the central nervous system of animals that ingest it. Symptoms are unmistakable. The first signs are a perceptible tremor of the head and neck followed by unstable gait, collapse and if no action is taken, possible death. The outward signs can vary considerably from animal to animal. At the first sign of head tremor, the animal must be removed from the infected pasture immediately. Feed Lucerne or good quality no ryegrass hay and provide water. There are two products that are effective in removing the toxins from the animals system. Mycosorb and Biomoss are both derived from yeast and function by binding to the toxins and preventing their absorption in the digestive system.
Thiamine Deficiency - What to look for.
Jill writes this acknowledgement: Following is an account of what we've dealt with here. It's the first critically sick alpaca I've had to deal with. I'd like to convey my huge thanks to Molly Gardner who recognised the symptoms we'd seen and then got me to ring Russell and Carolyn Nelson who'd had the same symptoms in an alpaca. Carolyn you were a big support for me, I thank you very much for your help. Carolyn mentioned Thiamine Def which I'd passed onto my vet BUT the dose of Vitamin B given wasn't enough. If the following info can help anyone else from going through eight days like we just had I'll be very happy. If you have a gut feeling, and don't think you should wait for the antibiotics to start working, go with that gut feeling. In my case it saved a wee girls life.
Also a huge thank you to Kate Mander, who keep me going over the phone while holding my dying girl until the vet arrived. I've never felt so totally helpless my life. I never expected a sick alpaca would have such a huge impact on my emotions.
Topaz tells our story:
FRIDAY 26th Aug 2005: Cassi couldn't or wouldn't put her head down to eat or drink. When she went to sit down, she would pace about for ages, then her front legs would go down and the rest of her would fall to the ground. Jill rang the vet, Cassi was given an antibiotic and they took some of her blood to see what was wrong. Jill said she had a temp of 39.5 and it was only 9am.
Well at 2.30 Jill was in a panic, little Cassi went down and couldn't get up, we were all looking over the fence and she didn't look very good at all. Jill carried her inside and we could see through the big glass door, she was still laying down and Jill was holding her head up. The vet finally came back and gave her a pain killer. After a short time Cassi got up. Phew!!! we all thought, nice to see her on her feet again. BUT she was really wobbly, she could barely walk, swaying and falling all over the place. Reminds me of when I was born and trying to get my legs to work. They took her into the hospital shed and were gone for a long time. Jill said they're trying to help Cassi and she has had a drip put in to try and make her better.
All night long Jill was going out to the shed to check on her. Flint was in the shed with her so we knew he'd look after her, they're the best of friends. I think Jet in there would have been trouble he's too bouncy and would have hurt her.
SATURDAY 27th Aug: After lunch Cassi and Flint came back outside, Cassi got on her feet but she was still really wobbly and swaying. She was unable to kush properly. What's wrong with her, it's not nice seeing her like that, why aren't they making her better. The vet came back again and gave her more medicine and she and Flint went back into the shed again. Here's Jill coming again with her light, all night long
SUNDAY 28th Aug: This morning Cassi and Flint have come back out of the shed, it's a lovely day and Cassi is much better, walking nearly like normal again. Yeah they've fixed her.
3pm and here we go again, Cassi is starting to wobble again, Jill left her and Flint out in the paddock tonight, but Jill was still out all the time with the light to check on her.
MONDAY 29th Aug: Oh no, Cassi has got stuck with her head under the fence and can't get up. Where is Jill this time. Help!!! Help!!! Poor Cassi. Here she comes, Cassi is OK but she needs more help. Jill ran inside and came back out very soon, she picked Cassi up and put her in the car and took her away. Flint is really worried now, he's looking for her but she's gone.
We now know Jill took Cassi to a new vet in Waimate, he's a really good alpaca doctor. He took a quick look at her and then gave her 5ml of B Calm into her vein Jill said...ouch!!!
Cassi stayed there for 3 days getting more of that good medicine each day.
THURSDAY 1st Sept: Yippee Cassi is home, she looks really good. Jill put her in with her mum, half sister and the other girls. She's so much better.
THURSDAY 8th Sept: Cassi is given another 5ml of B Calm under the skin and also a dose of Protexin (probiotic) as her on going care. Jill said she needed to give her two more Protexin over the next two weeks. We then have to play the wait and see game before we will know what permanent damage there may be.
So now you all know. If you see any of us unable to put our head down, or walking with a sway and unable to keep control of our back legs, we need help. The good alpaca doctor said it was a Thiamine Deficiency, all Cassi needed over those first three days was a good big shot of Vitamin B each day, and she also got a medicine in the mouth called Protexin.
If any of us are looking a bit off colour to you humans, we're very very sick. We don't like to show we're sick because another animal might come along and kill us. So when we don't look right we are sick and if we go down get us help right now! PLEASE
Cassi is fit and well and now the mother of two beautiful daughters (Mica and Lazulite) we've never had another case of Thiamine Def since this one.