Monday, July 27, 2009
kleur: medium bruin
Cedar House Lord Greystoke
Australian Alpaca Association
Mapachli Donte (20/02/09)
beschrijving: Bella is een dame dat direct opvalt in de kudde,ze heeft een warme bruine vacht en een uitgeproken mooie conformatie.
Het is een heel aanhankelijke merrie en heel rustig op de weide echt een schat van een dier.
Bella is drachtig van Mapachli Donte ,een zoon van Kaihere Peruvian Ven-chura.
Bella zal bij iedere alpaca liefhebber zeker in de smaak vallen mede door haar uitgesproken vriendelijkheid
Australian Alpaca Association
Waiheke Candente (21/05/09)
beschrijving: Helena is een echte aanwinst voor ieders kudde,mooie bouw en een goede fleece met voldoende krimp en dichtheid om haar een echte kwaliteits merrie te noemen.
Haar bloedlijn van Purrumbete Brigantine zal daar zeker voor iets mee te maken hebben;
Ze is drachtig van 'Waiheke Candentee' (bloedlijn Purrumbete Inti-Peruvian Drambuie),waar zeker een mooie cria van komt.
Kwaliteits merrie aan degelijke prijs
afstamming: Somerset Peruvian Hamlet
geregistreerd: Australian Alpaca Association
drachtig van: Greenvale Gerado (14/05/09)
beschrijving: Felicity is een zéér mooie dame met een uitzonderlijke kleur die schaduwd van zwart naar bruin naar grijs afhankelijk van de zon.
Deze juffrouw is al enkele jaartjes jong maar moet niet onderdoen kwestie uitstraling .
Ze is drachtig van Greenvale Gerado (rose-grey) meervoudig Nieuw-Zeelands kampioen (eigenaars Silverstream-Waiheki alpaca)
In combinatie met de kleur van vacht van Felicity kunnen we van haar een kwaliteits -grijs of zwart cria verwachten.
website designed by Olivier Beauprez © 2008 alpacalandgoed
The point is that the risk of these physiological consequences is causing livestock industries to take a step back and review breeding objectives aimed at productivity increases. I'm suggesting the alpaca industry should be one of them.
You are correct Neil in that the dairy cow problem relates to a massive daily nutrient drain that is required for increased milk yields. However, the daily nutrient drain for fiber production in alpacas is surprisingly high, particularly protein.
The amount of met. protein required for daily fiber production of, say, 8 grams per day is about 50g. The daily maintenance requirement for adult (dry) alpacas is about 250g. If fiber production doubles, then the amount of protein requirement is a massive 40% (about) of the amount required for maintenance. I don't think this would have a significant affect on a healthy alpaca experiencing low/no levels of stress.
However, the increased demands on available protein (and energy) would play havoc at times of stress, particularly foetal development, lactation and muscular development.
This is what we are now starting to find in the wool industry. The problems associated with focused genetic gains for increased productivity are not apparent under normal circumstances, but can have horrendous consequences when the sheep are placed under stress - Sheep that have been bred with extremely high fleece weights are found to have inferior coping ability under abnormal conditions. As I mentioned in my last post, these observations, however, are not frequent at this stage in the merino industry.
In conclusion, these comments are in no way to be taken as a criticism of breeding for follicle density. The comments actually are in response to previous comments on the need for a balanced approach to breeding objectives. In a nutshell, the issue of accelerated genetic improvement for productivity gains raises the need to take a deep breath and consider the potential negative ramifications of such breeding goals. Further, these considerations should be at both the industry and individual level.
the reference we use for nutritional requirements. It is 'Nutrient Requirements for Small Ruminants', National Research Council. US. There are a number of sections on Camelids.
Trials conducted with both sheep and alpacas have provided (inconclusive) evidence that these two traits resulted in a reduced AFD differential between weaning age and adult age (relatively speaking). I seem to recall a research paper that gave conclusive evidence of this, however, I can't locate it. These two traits are also reported to be highly heritable.
On another point, I noticed someone on this forum refer to secondary to primary follicle ratios resulting in increased fleece density (or something along these lines). I should point out that the relevant research shows that S/P ratios have very little correlation with fleece or follicle density and should not be used for this objective.
Finally, I would like to steel a couple more lines on this issue of fleece/follicle density that may be of interest to forum readers.
I am currently working on a paper that draws attention to accelerated genetic selection that focuses on increasing animal productivity (such as increased density).
A number of animal industries are now experiencing problems in this area. A European Safety Authority has found that genetic improvement for milk production in dairy cows has resulted in increased stress, nutrition and health problems. The report has found that the increase in milk production '..is the major factor causing lameness, reproductive disorders, metabolic disorders and significantly higher nutritional demands.
Another example of problems associated with increased production levels involves beef cattle in Great Britain where caesarean section births are now relatively common due to increased calve size brought on by genetic selection.
I am not suggesting increased fleece density is a bad thing. What I am saying is that we are now finding out that increased productivity from 'highly focused' genetic selection such as follicle/fleece density needs to bear in mind the trade-offs. In other words, does your selection strategy take account of the long term negative effects brought on from carrying heavier fleeces and increased nutritional demands for producing denser fleeces.
I think this needs to be carefully considered before you encounter the serious problems experienced by other livestock industries.
Regards from 'down under'
SD is a relatively precise method of defining variability. Providing the variability forms a normal distribution (as does fibre samples - generally speaking) then the outcome of calculating SD provides us with a reliable measurement of variation. According to Chebyshev's Therorum, about 68% of the variation lies within one standard deviation either side of the mean. In other words, the higher the SD, the wider the distribution of values - the greater the variation (in fibre diameter).
CV is used when we wish to compare degree of variability with unrelated sets of data. For example, comparing the degree of variation between the Euro and the US dollar, or comparing the variation in price of shares in two different companies.
CV is calculated by dividing the standard deviation by the mean, then multiplyed by 100 (SD/mean x 100).
Alpaca fibre samples with the same degree of variation will always have the same SD, however, the CV will change according to the average (say AFD).
I have had many debates on this matter, even with some civil servants with agriculture departments. However, showing how we manually calculate SD and CV on two samples soon proves the point.
Firstly, alpaca breeders use measurements of variation to identify the spread or distribution of fibers from the AFD. In other words, whether the alpaca will have a wide histogram or a narrow one. By the way, the less variation in fiber diameter, the better the fiber is to process, relatively speaking (as well as being regarded as genetically superior.
Having said that, it is appropriate to calculate SD and CV for two imaginary samples of fibers. For ease of calculation, the samples will have a ridiculously small number of fibers. While we use computers to calculate these stat's, I will do it manually.
The first sample has 5 fibers, each with the following microns: 18, 19, 19, 20 & 21. The AFD of this sample is therefore 19.4 microns
We calculate the SD as follows =
1/ obtain the sum of the squares for each of the data values (eg 324 + 361 + 361 + 400 + 441 = 1887)
2/ square the sum of the data values and divide by the number of values (eg 18 + 19 + 19 + 20 + 21 = 97, thence 97 x 97 divided by 5 = 1881.8)
3/ subtract 2/ from 1/, then divide the answer by the number of values less 1 (eg 1887 - 1881.8 = 5.2, thence 5.2 divided by 4 = 1.3)
4/ obtain the square root of 3/ (eg, the square root of 1.3 = 1.14
The SD of the sample is therefore 1.14
Now take a second sample of fibers with the same degree of variation (distribution of fibers from the mean) Lets say the microns of the five fibers are 23, 24, 24, 25 & 26. (AFD of 24.4)
The calculations for SD of this second sample are:
4/ 1.14 - The SD is also 1.14
The SD is the same because they are both the same degree of variation from the AFD.
If we take a sample with a greater spread of fibers, the SD will be higher, for example, fiber microns of 23, 24, 24, 25 & 29. (AFD of 25. microns)
4/ 2.3 - The SD is 2.3
Now we can calculate CV (SD divided by the AFD x 100)
The first sample, therefore, has a CV of 5.9%, the second sample has a CV of 4.7%. The variation is the same, just the AFD is different.
This is where the problem lies.
Lets take two alpacas with identical variation, say, SD of 4.7. One has AFD of 22.0 microns, the other is 27.0 microns. Their CV's are therefore 21.4 and 17.4.
The problem is that many breeders are selecting low CV alpacas, only because their AFD is high. In fact they are selecting an alpaca that is not only high in micron, but can also have a high distribution of fiber diameter. Using CV, therefore, can conceal the fact that an alpaca has a high number of very coarse fibers. Paul Vallely
At a recent Forum on Alpacanation, real discussions on the importance of SD's and CV's, and which is more important.
These are the important dicisions we need to make when making our breeding dicisions, but we must be clear on what we know of these main factors that help us make our breeding dicissions.
Anwers by Paul Valleley
yes the environment will always affect fleece.
(lengthy explanatory details omitted...)
yes, in theory you can get both desirable and undesirable cria from any pairing
yes, pairing a noticeably different quality sire and dam could give you a home run cria...........but you will get more home run cria from two quality parents.
........anyone else like my one word answer better?
Yes, Neil. I, for one, liked your one word answer better,
especially because it was... correct!
As Neil's lengthier reply pointed out, there area a number of
variables we are dealing with in breeding for any one trait -
and we we want it ALL, don't we?!
Identifying what we want to breed for is one key. Assessing
that trait accurately in both potential breeding stock and in
the resulting offspring is another, and is not always as
simple as one might suppose.
Heidi's advice is sound, but for us, looking at a fleece from
a two year old alpaca will not do us any good; we're breeding for 'baby' fine (aka Grade 2) fiber to age 10 - on otherwise healthy, sound, and well-fed animals (we are sometimes criticized for the use of alfalfa and the level of protein in our feeding program). If Americans don't want to eat alpaca, then we figure they've got to produce a valuable crop for most of their lives,
and I don't mean more alpacas.
As Robin Alpert said, considering the possibilities - balancing
the science of genetics with the 'art of selective breeding' -
can keep a dedicated breeder up all night, either tossing
and turning in bed, or in front of their computers researching
On the question of guard hair, I'd like to hear more from others
on this. From what I have seen, this is not an easy trait to
breed out. When we first got into alpacas, we often heard that
it was easy to improve on fleece quality. Thanks to decades
experience breeding a variety of species through multiple
generations (much easier in the guppy, say, than in the horse
or alpaca!) - we understood that it is easier to move a trait
toward the mean of the breed/species than it is to take a
trait that is already average or above average and get offspring
that are outstanding in that trait.
Heidi made another good point about progeny being more important
than pedigree, but I would never disregard the pedigree. As she
so accurately states, "even the 'Great Ones'" sire or produce
geldings. However, some breeders would geld what I would
treasure while others would use at stud what I would not sell to
an unsuspecting novice as a 'fiber' animal. (Isn't it wonderful
that we all have the freedom to choose for ourselves!)
After all, the animal you are looking at is the progeny of
it's sire and dam, and the product of its pedigree. Even in
the absence of independently verified data (Liz Kateras, PhD
of Bluebird Canyon Ranch says, "Show me the data!") or genetic
evaluations calculated from such data, (EPDs, ETAs, etc) one can gain a sense of what traits 'follow' which bloodlines.
All it takes is lots of time... and an almost obsessive dedication,
though I have to admit I found it easier for species that could be
visually evaluated for most of the traits I was interested in. But
we all love a challenge, or we would not have chosen to become
alpaca breeders, right?
Paul Valleley writes
Saturday, July 25, 2009
They are all going well, as you can see they love it when you get their supplements out.
Confirmation this week that the AAFL are publicly announcing the purchase of the Ultrafine Bale.
An agreement has been made, as AAFL continue to support the Australian Alpaca Industry, and those who support selective breeding.
The GIFT report is being the main contribution to alot of the Premium fleece producers in Alpaca.
A number of workshops are being delivered across the eastern states of Australia, with one being planned for 3rd October here at Mariah Hill Alpacas.
Paul Valleley will be talking on how to select your alpacas, how to read and use your GIFT report to maximise you $ returns on your alpaca fleece.
For more information, please contact myself or Paul contacts can be found on www.aaft.com.au
Well i have had a fast learning curve in Boer Goats and some of the main players in the industry, as i quote out on some small shipments starting to flow through.
The Boer Goats seem to be a very flourishing Industry.
Every breeder i have called in to see have been extremely helpful, and informative.
looking forward to exporting these guys and assisting the boer goat industry also
We are planing a future shipment in China, by the end of the Year. this will be a huge boost for the Australian Alpaca, as we start to generate the Chinese interest.
This Fawn Suri has high potential, and is available for the overseas marketplace.
He has been shown twice in a very competative field.
Each time winning his class both times.
A very good med fawn suri male is very rare to find..
He still has some maturing to go, but this is a perfect time for him to go overseas, this gives you a chance to be able to show him in his prime, as his fleeces goes to th next stage.
Excellent length and locking, and good lustre, and density.
He also is correct in conformation.
The grass has grown, sunny days finally in Canada, and the alpacas can go out and graze and appreciate all the sunlight.
All is well, and they should be out of quarantine in a couple of weeks.
Everyone is excited, as we start to plan the third group coming through to Canada.
As you will see from this clip.
Compared to NSW taken a couple of weeks earlier.
My husband said to some of the Canadians, iF you want to see the complete opposite to your world, come over to Australia in your winter, our Summer.
Canada was such a beautiful place, and all the Canadians we met were just so nice.
Although most of the trip was business, we did have some beautiful memories of a gorgeous country.
It is so, so BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was doing a search on the internet, and found this.
the heading says it all as the weather map seems to show a big Question mark.
It intrigued me, as we were in Winnipeg when this weather pattern was happening, and this is from the weatherman's blog in Winnipeg-Canada.
Speaking to people all over the world.
the weather patterns are really changing.
This year for us, it was the hottest summer on record in Melbourne.
The hottest day on record was also recorded.
On our farm, as i was rounding up the alpacas on the bad day Black Saturday, 7th Feb, my car temp, recorded 52 degrees, but we had weeks of 45 degrees plus. a night mare.
We had the wort fire on record, in Victoria, and they say the worst natural disaster in Australia's history- the fires. a real nightmare.
I personally congratulate any of the people involved in looking after the community at that time, and the fire fighters can only be described as heroes.
We went from that to the coldest winter on record in Canada, and then the wettest as the snow melt, producing the worst floods on record, video clip below.
It basically has not stopped raining in canada, meaning they could not get their normal crops in, and it snowed again, and they really have not had much of a summer.
I talk to New Zealand, who have had huge amount of rain storms, with near tornados, repoprted, electricity lines down, boats in this beautiful protected harbour smashed to piees, and huge amount of rain on a daily basis.
Uk people there have had huge amount of rain over their summer months.
Here it is our winter, but we have had rain, but not as much as usual.
The weather is definately changing.
i hope the weather in your part of the world, is gorgeous, and just what you want.
What is so weird to Rob and I is going to these places, that have no water problems.
When we were speaking to someone, and they asked about the fires, they said to us, why did we not put prinklers on.
We said we are not allowed to, there is not enough water, and we could not fight the fires if we want to, and yet, we go to NZ, Canada, and UK and they have so much water.
We can see why the USA can support the population they have, everywhere we went, in USA and Canada, (mind you we only went through 6 states all up, but there were lakes everywhere, water everywhere, and huge lakes.
The rain fall, they get, and what NZ are getting, compared to what Australia gets is enormous.
Our dams, are not even half full.
We ourselves are probably one of the best farms as far as rainfall, because of the minerals in our small mountain from the extinct volcano, a cloud goes past, and it rains, it rains a fair bit here on the mountain, (our mountain is the smallest in Australia of 112 ft but it is still called a mountain, because it is granite filled). But most of australia, is in drought, our dams are so low. This is the 11th year of drought, i have been counting, as one day years ago, an old farmer said droughts move in 7 year cycles, but this drought has prooved him wrong.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Heated sheds for the winter, hay storage above, adjoining paddocks to graze when weather is good. Every latest technology that could be used, has been supplied to this facility, with utmost care in design, selection of feed, and care.
Inbuilt cameras in the facility, with someone watching every move any time of the day.
CFIA are impressed with this purpose built facility, and has given it 5 stars.
With enthusiastic people around us working as a team, both Tannis and Carla, keep a very close eye on all the alpacas in this facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
There are environmental factors that can affect male performance and fertility. There have been instances in which males suddenly became sterile after years of good performance. In all of the instances known to the author, Possible causes for abrupt changes in performance include severe and prolonged heat, injury to the testicles, or penis sheath/penis damage caused by fighting. Bouts with disease or other injuries may also be the cause of the problem. Unusually hot weather leading to heat stress can render a male infertile for 60 to 90 days. Spring shearing and implementation of other cooling measures can reduce the possibility of lost performance caused by heat stress.
Breeding males: Heat stress infertility in breeding
males is probably more well-known than the cria
heat stress problem. Colored males are at a higher
risk than white males. Alpaca testicles are not
pendulous (the alpaca can’t drop them away from
the body to cool them off). When the body
temperature rises to about 104 degrees F - 105 degrees F, the existing sperm in the testicles can be destroyed. It can take from 90 days to one year for the new sperm to be available so the stud can breed again.
For many stud owners, that is fully 50% to 100% of
their breeding season (and stud fee income!). Even
worse news is that sperm production can be
destroyed permanently if the alpaca’s temperature
is above 105oF. At that point you have a prizewinning,
• Sick or old Alpacas: Heat stress adds an additional
burden on alpaca’s that are already battling illness
or age. As such, special care should be taken to
monitor sick or old alpacas to ensure that heat
stress does not put an additional burden on them.
Herd Management Practices:
• Shade: Shade can come in a number of forms.
Shade trees are the best type of outdoor shade
although run-ins also provide alpacas relief from the
sun. Barns or permanent structures should have
high enough ceilings in order to provide sufficient
air movement. Note that hay stored in the loft of a
barn diminishes the barn’s ability to cool because
the hay will insulate and block heat from escaping.
Whatever type of shade is used, be sure that the
shaded area(s) can include all of the alpacas as
• Ventilation: The most
should be directed
near the floor (without
blowing dirt and straw
everywhere) so that
the breeze can get
animals (where the
"thermal window" is
should also establish
that fresh air is constantly circulating. Install large
barn fans so that they safely pull air from shady
cool areas and not from dry sunny areas.
• Shearing: Our alpaca’s fiber is sheared before we
expect the temperature to be 80 degrees for several
days in a row. If you must plan in advance for
shearing we have found April to be a great month
for shearing in Virginia and June in Washington
State. Avoid “fad” shearing that leaves the neck and
leg fiber on the animal in hot and humid weather,
since any fiber will retain the alpacas’ heat. If you
are planning to show your alpaca, check for the
fiber length requirements for the show and decide
whether shearing or showing is more important to
• Bedding: Straw should not be used as bedding in
the heat of summer since it will insulate the alpaca
and not allow heat to escape through their thermal
window when they kush. Plan to replace the straw
with earth, pea gravel, or sand for the summer;
which will allow more heat to be drawn from the
• Summer Nutrition: Don't let your alpacas get fat or
too skinny! Physically fit animals react better in
extreme temperatures than overweight or thin
animals. Consider buying feeds that contain
additives for reducing summer stress: adequate
selenium, vitamin E, copper, zinc, and B vitamins
such as thiamine can increase tolerance of hot
weather. Eating and digesting hay takes a lot of
work and generates a lot of heat.
• Water: During the Summer and Fall, water
becomes the secret weapon to battle heat stress.
The amount of water that alpacas will consume in
the heat and humidity may double during the hot
summer months. Place water containers in shaded
areas or place a shield above the water container to
shade it from the sun. Automatic water feeders are
great if they draw water from underground where it
is cooler, to refill the water receptacle. You may
want to offer your alpacas at least one water bucket
with electrolytes added in. The electrolytes contain
salt, potassium, glucose, and bicarbonate which
help replace losses that occur in sweat and
breathing. Use this electrolyte bucket as a
supplemental source of water and not a sole source
since the alpacas may elect not to drink the
electrolyte water and want to stick with plain water.
The downside of the bucket with the electrolytes is
that they should be cleaned frequently to prevent
the growth of bacteria.
Alpacas will seek out any body of water to get cool.
Some farms consider kiddie pools a great way to
allow the alpacas access to water under controlled
conditions. The pool should be placed in a shady
area. Extended exposure to water may damage the
fiber, especially around the legs, but pools are very
effective at allowing the animals to self-regulate
temperature. Be aware that pools can get really
dirty really fast and that the shallow water will heat
up to ambient temperature pretty quickly.
Farm Management Practices:
• Breeding: Consider timing your breedings and
birthings so they don’t occur during the hottest
• Weaning: Separating a cria and dam is a stressful
time for both. If possible, it should be delayed so
that it occurs during cooler weather
• Halter Training: Training increases an alpacas
stress level and should be moved to cooler months
if possible or given in shorter doses during the early
morning or evening hours is during a heat spell.
• Transporting from cooler to warmer climates: Try to
avoid transporting alpacas to an unaccustomed hot
climate during summer months. It may take several
months to acclimate alpacas to a new geographical
area, feeding practices and herd mates.
Alpaca owners and breeders can take many steps to ensure
their alpacas remain healthy and safe during the summer
months if they practice practical prevention and awareness.
However, the best person to consult if you suspect alpaca
heat stress (or any alpaca illness) is your veterinarian. As
breeders, we rely on them to provide us expert advice on
how to care for our alpacas. Consult a veterinarian at the
earliest time for animals showing abnormalities of behavior
during summer months. Or better yet, talk to your
veterinarian before the summer months arrive and get a
jump-start on your hot weather plans.
Breeding Soundness Examination in the Male Camelid
Stacey Poskarbiewicz, Veterinary Student
David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS
What is a Breeding Soundness Examination?
A breeding soundness examination (BSE) is an integral part of any successful reproduction business. It looks beyond performance records and pedigrees, to include all things that can affect fertility. The reproductive function of males depends on a variety of characteristics, including sexual desire, or libido, mating ability, capability of forming semen, etc. These all need to be taken into consideration in the BSE. An all-inclusive BSE should include a physical examination, examination of the reproductive tract, evaluation of mating desire (libido), and semen evaluation.
A physical examination is one of the most important aspects of the BSE. It will reveal conditions that could be detrimental to reproduction, but would not be picked up if one were only evaluating the reproductive aspects. A physical exam will identify circumstances that can affect the males' ability to locate dams in heat (if pasture breeding) or affectively mount and mate the female. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is important to the overall health of all animals; but, also can be detrimental to reproductive success. Emaciated animals will not have the energy to perform, while obese males will not only lack the vigor, but also more importantly, it affects the thermoregulation of the testicles and therefore decreases semen quality. Feet and legs need to be considered, as the male will be unable to mount or stay mounted for an extended period of time if there is a problem. Previous injuries, length of toenails, and osteoarthritis are a few troubles that could be recognized in a possibly unsound male. The importance of a thorough examination of the reproductive tract is obvious. The testicles need to be palpated and measured. The testicles should be firm, but not hard or soft. They should be freely moveable, symmetrical, and contain no lumps, or enlargements. The size should be measured with either calipers or ideally via ultrasound. The size and shape of the bulbourethral and prostate glands also need to be determined. This is also done by ultrasound examination. The glands should be homogenous in echotexture. The penis and prepuce should be inspected for any signs of inflammation, abscesses, adhesions, or deviations. (The average sizes of normal testicles, bulbourethral and prostate glands can be found in figures 1 and 2.)
Evaluation of mating desire can be observed while obtaining a specimen for semen evaluation. A male that is unarousable by a receptive female is likely infertile and the cause needs to be identified. A serum testosterone level would then be evaluated and a normal value should be >1000pg/mL in a sexually mature male. A male with a good libido will begin to orgle, smell under her tail to check fertility and receptivity, then approach her from behind in order to persuade her to cush for the act of mating (Stamberg, 2000). If electroejaculation is being utilized for semen collection, the libido will not be noted; however, this is usually used when the libido is known to be adequate. Semen can be retrieved from the vagina after ejaculation or an electroejaculator can be used. A disadvantage of collecting from the vagina is that it often does not provide an adequate representation of the true motility/morphology of sperm as they can be damaged in the retrieval. Electroejaculation on the other hand, requires sedation and can often become contaminated with urine (Tibary, 2000). The use of an artificial vagina along with receptive females appears to be the most efficient method, IF the camelid is trained to mount. The semen is then evaluated for volume, consistency, color and most importantly motility and morphology of the sperm. Normal motility of semen collected by electroejaculation is moderate; whereas, that collected by vaginal aspiration is slow (0-50%). Normal morphology from electroejaculation collection has not been noted, while vaginal aspiration shows normal from 10-78% (Bravo, 2002). "The proportion of normal spermatozoa ranges between 60 and 90%, and as in other livestock species, it varies" (Bravo, 2002). Abnormalities of sperm noted upon microscopic examination include abnormal heads, midpiece defects, cytoplasmic droplets, detached heads, and tail defects.
At The Ohio State University
A retrospective study conducted in August of 2005 looked at the results of BSE performed on 45 male camelids in order to identify the most common reasons that they fail to be sound breeders. 28% of the males were diagnosed with testicular degeneration, 20% with testicular hypoplasia and 3% with cryptorchidism. 22% of the males were found to be likely normal satisfactory breeders. (4% were obese, the effects of which were discussed earlier).
Testicular degeneration is a progressive disease that can be caused by a variety of diseases but is most commonly associated with heat stress, prolonged weight loss, or prolonged fever. Testicular degeneration is where the function of the testicle deteriorates and the production of sperm is decreased. This is likely the most common cause of infertility of old males (Tibary, 2000). "Specific causes for testicular degeneration include elevated temperatures, frostbite, systemic infections, nutritional factors, toxins, hormonal deficiencies and excesses, vascular occlusions, obstruction to testicular atrophy, autoimmunity and age" (Buergelt, 2005). This can often be palpated as softer and smaller than usual testicles. The definitive diagnosis is reached through a biopsy of the testicular tissue. The biopsy will reveal absence or abnormality of spermatogenesis of the seminiferous tubules and spermatogonia. Treatment of degeneration is feasible only if an underlying cause for the disease is identified, which is often not the case. With the biopsies submitted to the pathology department at OSU, the underlying origin often was not determined. Medical treatments currently used attempting to treat this condition includes GAGS (glycosaminoglycans, such as Adequan), NSAIDS, vitamin E and sexual rest. The average cycle of spermatogenesis is 60 days. Therefore, after an initial adverse event (such as heat stress), the time for sperm production to return to normal is after that time frame. Reevaluations are scheduled at the end of that period to note if production has in fact returned. If the cause of the degeneration is idiopathic, the condition is not responsive to medical therapy.
"Testicular hypoplasia is a congenital pathologic condition which manifests itself at puberty" (Buergelt, 2005). It is the reduction or complete lack of spermatic tissue in either one or both testes. Sperm production is correlated with size in camelids; therefore, as testicular size decreases, so too does sperm output and fertility (Vaughan, 2003). "Hypoplasia may be bilateral or unilateral, and ranges from mild (varying degrees of spermatogenic activity) to severe (Sertoli cells only) histologically" (Vaughan, 2003). The true underlying cause is unknown, but is suspected to be a developmental disorder in that germinal cells fail to migrate to the fetal testes or are destroyed during development. Diagnosis can be confirmed through ultrasound measurements, testicular biopsy and testosterone values. As these males still have functional Leydig cells they should continue to produce normal levels of testosterone and have normal libidos.
"Cryptorchidism is defined as failure of testicular descent into the scrotum" (Buergelt, 2005). It is a relatively rare condition (10%) in the camelids that is usually unilateral (left sided) but has been identified as bilateral (Anderson, 2002). The cause of the retention is unknown, but is believed to be a heritable defect. Cryptorchids are generally diagnosed by palpation, often then the location of the testicle is found using an ultrasound. "Unilateral cryptocrchids are generally fertile since the descended testicle is low enough from the body to have only normal thermal suppression. There is a marked depression in the plasma levels of testosterone in cryptorchids. Unilateral are lower than an unaffected male and bilateral are lower still" (Anderson, 2002). Bilateral cryptorchids are completely infertile. Regardless of the number of retained testicles all cryptorchids should be castrated as this renders the males as unsatisfactory breeders that will pass the faulty trait to their offspring.
There are numerous causes of infertility in camelids - male and female. The importance of the breeding soundness examination cannot be stressed enough for both sexes in order to identify these causes. It is recommended that BSE's be performed on all animals prior to purchasing and at any indication that fertility is decreasing. Relying on a thorough BSE performed by a proficient veterinarian should increase the rate of successful breedings on your farm.
Mean testicular size and testosterone concentrations by age in llamas and alpacas
|Llama size |
|Alpaca size |
(Figure adapted from Bravo, 2002 - Chapter 4, page 49)
Mean bulbourethral gland and prostate gland size in the alpaca
(Figure adapted from Bravo, 2002 - Chapter 4, page 51)
- Anderson, D., Linden D. Male Reproduction in Llamas and Alpacas.
International Camelid Institute. RMLA.com. 2002.
- Bravo, Walter. The Reproductive Process of South American Camelids. 2002.
- Buergelt, C.D. Pathology of the Male Reproductive Tract. AFIP.org. 2005.
- Stamberg, G., Wilson, D. Llamapaedia.com. 2000.
- Tibary, A., Anouassi, A. Reproductive Disorders in the Male Camelid.
- Vaughan, J., Galloway, D., Hopkin D. Artificial Insemination in Alpacas (Lam pacos). RIDC.gov.au. 2003.
David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS
Head and Associate Professor of Farm Animal Surgery
Director, International Camelid Initiative
Ohio State University**
College of Veterinary Medicine
601 Vernon L Tharp Street
Columbus, Ohio 43210
** Dr Anderson is no longer with Ohio State University. Please use the following web site: http://www.vet.k-state.edu/depts/ClinicalSciences/faculty/anderson.htm