Thursday, January 5, 2012

We recommend that you always consult your local veterinarian to obtain specific advice.

The subjects that we are going to cover today are broad, but will cover the main requirements of alpacas.

  • Selection of your alpaca
  • Breed Standards
  • Conformation
  • Fleece Colour
  • When you first get your alpaca home
  • Fencing
  • Housing
  • Stocking density
  • Yarding
  • Moving animals to yards
  • Shearing
  • Identification of your animal
  • Reproduction
  • Breeding
  • Inoculations
  • Parasites
  • Record keeping
  • Our industry

Identification of your Alpaca
It is very important to identify your alpaca at all times.
When you have one or two alpacas, of course this is simple, but before long, you do have more than a couple of alpacas, and it is amazing when the babies grow up, especially if you are producing cria of the same colour and similar quality, how much they all do end up looking a like, and once they are shorn, or it is wet, it is very easy to mix up which actual alpaca is which.
We go to many farms where animals are not easily identifiable, and it is amazing, as each owner really are not 100% certain which animal is which, in one case, I know of in New Zealand, one owner accidentally sold the wrong animal, resulting in her loosing a very expensive alpaca and selling it for a very cheap price because it was not identifiable.
A lot of people do not like to place plastic tags in alpacas ears, but now there are different, easy and fairly inexpensive ways of getting around this, and in the long run, it is far better to be able to identify an alpaca from a distance rather than guess.
     recognizeme [recognizeme@iprimus.com.au]

  •  Light weight so that it doesn’t bother the alpaca
  • Simply to attach or remove (refer picture below)
  • Attaches to the existing IAR tag
  • Laser cut and engraved from UV resistant outdoor sign material
  • No need to punch another hole in your alpacas ears
  • Great marketing tool to impress your visitors
  • Great way to identify alpaca guests at your stud.
  • We have found that Black on white is easiest to read but if you want to colour code your herd we can assist
With name engraved= $ 3.00
Blank = $ 2.00

All flex

Visual Tags

Lazatag
Lazatag
The new Lazatag range combines the latest manufacturing technologies into the production of a product; designed by the customers for the customer this leading edge development has proven another winner in the Allflex stable of products.
IMPORTANT:
It is critical, to prevent damage when applying Electronic Tags, that the insert is removed.
Insert Removal



Flock Tag
Sheep tags - Flock & Flexitag
An ideal tagging option for those Wool and Meat Producers looking for a good quality tag at an economical cost. 
Brass Tag
Security Brass tags
This product has been held in high regard for years as a back up tag for the Dairy industry and a stud tag for Sheep and Cattle Breeders. 
    You are here: / Visual Tags / Accessories
 

Applicator

Brass security tags are applied using the One-shot applicator.
The uniqueness of this applicator means that no pre-cutting of a hole in the ear is required as the tag itself performs the cut.
Security Applicator

Accessories

 Tag Pen
Tag Pens
The Allflex tag pen has been especially designed to use with the Allflex Lazatag range and gives customers the choice to mark their own tags. The pen ink is a special formulae designed to give the longest life possible with a tag pen.
To remove Tag Pen ink from material or carpet, the solvent Ethanol, should be used.  Confirm on a small area that the solvent will not damage area to be cleaned.




This is a very easy way of identifying your animals.
Allflex tags can be purchased from any feed or Produce store.
It is more professional as well, when it is time for servicing your alpaca, and selling your alpacas, that you are 100% confident of the identification of your alpacas.
Registered alpacas do have a brass ear tag that is placed on the left ear for a male and on the right ear for a female.
We would place the allflex plastic tag on the opposite side to the brass tag.
The animal should be carefully restrained while the ear is cleaned. Applicators should be smooth, sharp, and thoroughly cleaned in disinfectant, (betadine solution), ensure the tags do not puncture a vein when inserting in the ear.
We then usually give the area and tag once tagged, a spray of tetracycline spray, (pink eye spray). Keep an eye on the ear, over the next couple of weeks, to make sure that the ear does not get infected or gunky, if unchecked, this can almost deform the ear.
In the majority of cases, the ear does not get infected.
Until recently, not all alpacas were registered.
Often males that were not going to be used as stud males, were never registered, but most breeders these days are registering all their offspring.

Arm Extensions

 Marty Mc Gee, Cameldynamics, can be purchased in Australia.
When used as a pair, two wands are invaluable for herding and sorting your animals. The wand allows you to touch and guide your llama/alpaca from outside his flight zone.
By using the wand you won’t crowd your animals and make them nervous and reactive.
These wands are ideal for leading, initial work with legs and accept handling all over the body. They are especially useful for fearful animals. For herding and sorting you will want two wands.
The fiberglass wand is 4’ long and white in color for greater visibility. The wand’s balance and stiffness set it apart from other options and make it much more effective for training.
The wand features a flat button on the end rather than a handle, excellent for scooping up dropped lead ropes.

We sometimes use electrical conduit between 3-4 feet in length,
These wands are only used as Arm extensions, and not weapons.
Alpacas respect boundaries, and this is only giving them boundaries to guide them to areas, that you want them to go to.
Are very useful for herding alpacas, and catching alpacas.


Documentation

There are numerous alpaca programs around
Ultimate
Lama Logic
Alpaca management
And you need to look at these at your own time, and see if any of these do suit you.

You need to document when the alpacas have their inoculations, matings, and births
A simple excel format is ample, as you can document many details on each subject.
If an alpaca is sick, write up also and take note of symptoms, body temp, and any treatment.
This can also be referred to later on.

What you need in your First Aid kit
You must be prepared to be able to maintain an animal until the vet arrives.

*      Thermometer, and a spare thermometer
*      Blanket, or heat pad
*      Hair dryer
*      Betadine
*      Tetramycine spray (Pink Eye Spray)
*      Tetramycine creame (Pink Eye Cream)
*      VAM (Vitamin, Amino Acid, Minerals)
*      5 in 1….never 6 or 7 in 1
*      Worming Treatment
*      Saline Water
*      Sterilized Material Swobs
*      Cotton Wool, and Cotton Buds
*      Vitamin B Complex, B1 and B12
*      Vitamin C
*      Vitamind A D & E, not Vit A D E & C, we recommend Vitadec
*      Coforta and/or DCP powder
*      Syringes and needles ( we prefer green, but some vets prefer yellow or pink)
*      Protexin, Microb gel
*      BLUD satchels (you prbably will not need to use these often, but it is handy to have)
*      Scissors
*      Bandages, (self sticking, elastic type, you can get this from produce store)
*      Microsorb powder (Reids Stockfeed, Trafalgar, Phone 03 54 329273)
*      Stable bedding (straw)
*      Tweezers
*      Container to hold sterile fluid for cleaning wounds
*      Solaminavit
*      Electrolytes………..Vytrate is really good, if you cannot get your hands on that, and you need to give some electrolytes quickly, lucosaide is a good substitute.

The bst advise also is good, clean (no mould), edible green feed available at all times, (Lucerne, but meadow hay, rye clover is also adequate)


Handy Information
Body Temperature            Normal is between 37.5 and 38.5.
It must be noted though, if it is a hot day, especially a coloured animal, the body temp will be higher than 38.5, and if the animals have been running, then again their body temp will go up.
The best way of determining if the heat of the day or exercise is to take the temp of a similar aged, and body condition alpaca, in the same group, and if the temp is similar then the higher temperature is not because of


Johne’s disease Market Assurance Programs (JDMAP)

You will hear breeders talk about JD, or Map 1 (I year of testing) Map 2 (2 years of testing) or Map 3 (3 years of testing, but to keep this staus you then have to test every year) or unassessed.
Johnne's disease was first diagnosed in Camelids in Victoria in 1993. There have been 33 clinical cases of disease since then, the last in a llama in 1999. The distribution of those cases has been 26 cases in Victoria, 3 in New South Wales, 2 in Queensland, and 1 each in South Australia and Western Australia. 20 cases occurred in alpacas less than 22 months of age. The youngest alpaca was 6 months of age, the oldest 6-8 years of age. There are currently 2 infected camelid herds in Australia (as of Sept 2003).
Johnne's disease (JD) is a serious wasting disease that thickens the intestinal walls and blocks normal food absorption in a variety of species. The 9 bacterial isolates of JD which have been found to cause disease in alpacas and llamas also affect cattle, goats and deer. Treatment is not possible. JD bacteria can survive in the environment for months to years, but bacteria do not multiply in environment. Direct costs to livestock industries in Australia are large, due to increased culling, weight loss, production loss (milk, meat, and wool), predisposition to other diseases and deaths. Indirect costs include loss of markets, restriction of animal movements and potential reduction in land values.

Young animals up to 1 year of age (especially the first 30 days of life) are susceptible to JD infection, but older Camelids may become infected. Animals become infected by eating faeces (e.g. on teats of dam) containing JD bacteria. Bacteria live in small intestine and are shed in faeces. Once infected, animals never revert to infection-free state. Clinical disease may be precipitated by stresses including parturition, low plane of nutrition, concurrent bacterial infection and social stress. Clinically infected animals may be ill-thrifty, lose weight despite a good appetite, and die after 1-6 months.

Transmission is by faecal ingestion, in utero infection and via the milk. The likely ways of infecting a camelid herd are by:
  • introducing infected cattle, goats, deer or Camelids (including strays, agisted animals, shared bulls/machos etc)
  • clean animals moving/straying onto contaminated land then returning to infect the herd
  • contaminated faeces entering the property via a channel/river/drain
  • introduction of infected milk e.g. goat/cow colostrum
  • dirty stock trucks
Mechanical spread of JD such as transfer of material on boots and tyres is NOT considered an important cause of spread over long distances. There is NO evidence of wildlife spreading JD in Australia. Semen and embryos are very unlikely sources of the organism.

Early diagnosis of JD in the live animal is difficult because bacteria grow slowly and do not stimulate the immune system in such a way that blood testing may detect an immunological response. For this reason, blood testing is not used to detect JD in Camelids in Australia. Few bacteria are excreted in the faeces in the early stages of infection and JD bacteria grow very slowly. Faecal culture, the definitive test for JD in Camelids in Australia, therefore takes 6-12 weeks.

Legal obligations – JD is a notifiable disease (for example in Victoria, under the Livestock Diseases Control Act 1994). Owners have a responsibility to notify their local Department of Agriculture if JD is suspected or confirmed on their property.

There are 3 mains forms of herd assurance available to producers to minimize risk of introducing JD into their herd:
  1. Zoning. Different regions of Australia are zoned according to the level of disease risk. Disease control standards and movement restrictions are agreed for zones of different status. Go to www.aahc.com.au to see which zone you are in.
  2. Check testing. A negative test of 50 adult animals in a herd with no suspicion of JD infection. Animals selected for testing are those in poorer condition, older or introduced from other herds. There are no herd management requirements, the test provides a low level of assurance but is NOT an Alpaca MAP status.
  3. Market assurance programs - Alpaca MAP is a voluntary, standardized national quality assurance program. The broad roles of the Alpaca MAP are to protect 'clean' regions, protect non-infected herds, contain infection and control the effects of disease.
The Alpaca Johnne's Disease Market Assurance Program (Alpaca MAP) is based on animal testing AND property and herd management. Alpaca MAP does not guarantee that a herd is free of JD, but the higher the status a herd achieves, the greater the assurance that it is not infected. In larger herds, the level of sampling and testing gives at least a 95 % confidence of detecting infection if the disease is present in 2 % of Camelids over 1 year of age. In small herds, all adult Camelids are tested.

Requirements for entry onto the Alpaca MAP by Non-Assessed herds:
  • Herd and property risk assessment.
  • Creation of a Farm Management Plan to minimize risk of introducing JD onto the property.
  • Faecal culture of all Camelids over 1 year of age to SCREEN herd.
  • Follow-up investigation of reactors (by further faecal culture or post-mortem).
  • If all testing is negative, then the herd is allocated MN1 status.
  • JDMAP properties undergo an annual audit to remain on the program. Animal testing is carried out every 2 years until herds reach MN3 status, then testing occurs every 3 years.

Herds participating in the Alpaca MAP provide a pool of animals from which buyers can source Camelids with a low risk of buying an infected animal, facilitate movement of low risk Camelids between zones, allow herds to demonstrate their status so they can sell breeding animals and reduce the risk of JD being spread at shows and sales.

As testing has been unreliably slow, costly, and sometimes will give false positives, a lot of farms did not go through the testing phase, as in the early days, of JD, strict movement rules were put into place by the Assoc, which has contributed in the success of not spreading the disease through out the industry.
To confirm that the property you buy or agist from has not got any history of JD, this information can be obtained from The Department of Primary Industries.
But it is law that if you ask the vendor, if he has had JD in the past, he has to tell you.
As the above article states, 99.9% of Australian herds, do not or never had JD, but it is always safe to ask.
Q Alpaca has since been introduced, which will bring you up to MAP 1 status.
Details of Q Alpaca are on the AAA webpage, but it is considered higher than JDMAP, as Q alpaca involves all diseases and not just JD.
My recommendation is for you to look into Q Alpaca.

Illnesses and treatments, you may encounter with Alpacas

Hyperthermia  See pages 6-7 in Part 2
Hypothermia  See page 6-1 in Part 2
Abscess     See page 13
Dams loosing weight due to cria feeding.
Often, especially depending on the season, and also the size and demand of the cria, dams age also plays a big part in keeping body condition on for feeding dams.
Dams body condition should be monitored almost weekly, when they are feeding crias.
It is amazing how much condition a female can loose when feeding , especially a demanding cria).
You need to maintain the dams body weight as much as possible, as it is easier to maintain weight, than to try and put weight onto a female after the cria has been weaned.
Good supplements with Lucerne especially, meadow hey and Rye clover are also good to keep weight on, but always have extra supplements for the dam to pick if she needs to.
If feeding a lot of animals, round bales in the middle of the paddocks are also a good source of supplementing feeding the group.
Extra supplements may also be needed, as the dam is currently under stress, feeding a cria, quite often pregnant again, and for the cria to get the most out of the milk, the dam needs good quality feed to produce enough good quality milk.
Never place a nursing mum in an overcrowded paddock, as she does not need competition for feed.
After delivery, she is going to be more susceptible to worms, and so a good wormer is advisable. Also top her up with ADE, and Solaminavit.
Solaminavit can be used instead of VAM, or you can use VAM
If she is going down in condition rapidly, she most likely will be anemic, and so BLUD ( 1 tablespoon diluted in water, and then drenched daily for 3 days, and then weekly), Yakult ( a bottle a day for 6 days) at this stage or protexin, (as per directions on the pack), would also aid her, as this is putting the bacteria back in her gut to process her feed properly.
If she does not put condition on, she may be forming a stomach ulcer, and vet treatment is needed to confirm, and advise on treatment required.
Monitor the dam, and any concerns contact the vet.

Cuts
Clean thoroughly with sterile water, with diluted 10:1 strength Betadine solution.
Determine if stitches are needed and consult vet.

Weanlings
Weanlings are under stress as soon as they are weaned.
Depending on the cria, some will adapt very well, and others will fret for the dam.
If possible wean weanlings together, and usually not separately, always have a companion animal for the weanling.
Weanlings, as they are under stress are more susceptible to worms, and deficiencies.
Monitor weanlings, and identify which weanling is going to be stressed more.
It is advisable to give protexin on weaning, which helps with the bacteria for the gut.

Rye Grass Staggers
Some alpacas seem more susceptible than others. In particular the younger animals appear to be more susceptible. This research project has indicated that this is so, with the vast number of responses being in relation to alpacas under 12 months of age.
Even cria only weeks old can display symptoms, although whether this is passed through dam's milk, or ingested directly, is unclear.
Research has been done in sheep that indicates that there is a strong genetic susceptibility to ryegrass staggers.
WHAT DOES RYE GRASS STAGGERS LOOK LIKE?
It is sometimes hard to notice the early stages of ryegrass staggers. It usually begins with a slight tremor of the head that is most noticeable when an animal is stressed. It can worsen quite quickly and a noticeable shake may soon appear. In bad cases an animal will stagger violently, trip over and even fall down.

The symptoms of the damage become exaggerated when the alpaca is under any form of stress, including management, and
even movement.

Staggers tends to affect alpacas grazing the seed heads, as the endophyte concentrates in the forming seed heads,
What actually happens when susceptible alpacas graze on high endophyte concentrations is that the toxin in the endophyte has a specific damaging effect on the cells of the part of their brain that co-ordinates movement. The damage can quickly become permanent. It can be prevented, and mitigated by pasture and animal management, and treatment in its early stages. It cannot be cured.
It is worth noting that Rye Grass is not the only grass to create "staggers-type" symptoms. In sheep, staggers symptoms have been noted to a very extreme extent on Phalaris grass pastures, and similar "rye grass" symptoms can be seen in animals suffering from a magnesium deficiency.

PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT:
Prevention is by far the best way of managing this problem, and prevention starts with pasture management.

Either do not have endophyte rye grasses in your pastures, or have some paddocks that are free of endophyte rye grass to keep your most susceptible animals in at the high-risk times of year. However, because most basic farm paddocks are primarily endophyte rye grass, for most of us that means spraying out and re-sowing paddocks - an expensive, time- consuming, and not always successful process.
Next, if you have rye grass paddocks, practice regular topping of these paddocks to avoid seed head creation. Avoid these paddocks if they are well eaten down during drought, and especially in periods of lush growth following drought.
If you do have alpacas that develop rye grass staggers, there are a number of early stage mitigation techniques, but the most important is to remove the affected alpacas immediately and entirely from the rye grass. Because stress exaggerates the staggers effect, taking a couple of companion animals along as well for company will minimise the stress of being isolated form the herd. Move them onto a specially sown paddock, or feed hay. But remember that hay made from toxic endophyte rye grass will itself retain the toxicity, as hay!
Anecdotally, we have found that the following can assist in aiding an alpaca in the early stages of rye grass staggers:
  1. Cocktail Vitamin B (e.g. mulitject - B) or Thiamine (B1), or "B Calm" injections.
  2. Drenching with EHE (a horse mix of Cider Vinegar, Manuka Honey and Garlic) -- alpacas actually really love this mixture!
  3. Drenching with Mycrosorb product used for staggers in horses that is supposed to actually stimulate excretion of the toxin.

Early signs that the alpaca is unwell
Alpacas are stoic and so will mask signs of illness.
Knowing your herd, and each animal’s body language, is the best way of identifying the onset of a illness.
If the body language of an animal is different from the norm, then there is a likelihood that she is sick, and needs care.
If you do not think she is well, separate her from the herd, and of course place a companion animal maybe in the next pen, Make sure both have feed and water, with electrolytes, and monitor to see if she is off her feed, or if there is actually something wrong, as you observe them.
As these animals can actually pretend not to be sick, when observing make sure that the alpaca cannot see you, maybe hang clothes on a line, and pretend not to be watching.
Take the body temp, if high then call the vet.
If in doubt, do not muck around. And get a vet.
These animals unlike others, really can go down hill quite fast, so it is best to be safe than sorry.

Phospherous deficiency


     




























How to select your first Alpaca

When I am looking at an alpaca, I like to look at her square on, and see how well balanced she is.
Depending on the price I want to pay for the alpaca, as price is really determined on the quality of the animal rather than colour.
For my ideal Alpaca, which would be in the higher price bracket wise.
Would be exactly
Feet of the llama and alpaca
The foot of the llama and alpaca is divided into two and each half has a toenail which grows like the hoof of sheep and goats. You can use the same tools for foot care of the llama and alpaca as are used for the feet of sheep and goats. The toenails of these animals can be trimmed
Feet of the llama and alpaca
The foot of the camel
The camel's foot is flat and soft and divided into two. There is a toe nail at the end of each side.
The foot of the camel
Sharp objects such as nails, wire, glass and thorns penetrate the sole of the foot causing wounds. The pain from the wound can make the animal lame. Sometimes the foot swells from walking on hard roads.
Simple wounds can be treated with tincture of iodine (see Unit 73). If severe lameness occurs you must ask your veterinary officer for advice on treatment.
Sometimes the camel's foot can be covered with thick cloth or leather to stop the swelling becoming worse.

Foot problems in camels

The camel's foot is adapted for sandy soils and can be described as a tyre filled with fat instead of air.
In these days the camel walks on tarred, hard surfaced roads and ground which is littered with sharp objects such as nails, wire and broken glass. These may cause damage to the foot and result in lameness.
Llamas and the alpaca have two toes on the foot with toe nails which vow like the hoof of sheen and gnats.

The camel's foot is flat and soft and divided into two. There is a toe nail at the end of each side.
The foot of the camel

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