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Introducing Deb Lewis

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by DebLewis, Jun 18, 2017 at 9:40 PM.

  1. Jun 18, 2017 at 9:40 PM
    DebLewis

    DebLewis Exploring the pasture

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    Hi ... thanks for letting me join this community

    I recently joined Backyard Chickens and saw this link to sister site.

    Having lived in suburbia all my life, about five years ago we moved to five acres, and bought a few chickens for eggs. Hubby decided that alpaca made good guards, and they kept the grass low (bargain!). So we got two free from a school that no longer wanted them (grandma and grandpa). Then we purchased 2 pregnant mothers each with a cria, and 2 whethers, so we had a group of 8. We are both clueless, and look after them as best we can with help from Google & Facebook!

    We lost one mother and one whether early on, and got a replacement female (whom we were told was pregnant but 3 years later no baby). The other pregnant female gave birth a little before Christmas, to an albino. We castrated her cria, and in time, little Snowflake. However, we kept the other cria "in tact" as we had lost its mother, we were less concerned about in breeding.

    Last February, she surprised us with another baby.

    Last November we moved to 25 hectares (about 60 acres). Within a month we had lost the Snowflake and new baby ... to paralysis ticks. :-(

    Then in February this year, we went through a roller coaster ride, a new baby, four weeks later, dead on the drive when we arrived home one day. A few weeks later, a new baby, less than four weeks later, died. And then last week we lost one of the original whethers. Not sure if we are losing them due to some mineral deficiency (someone suggested magnesium), due to colic (over feeding to compensate our lack of knowledge - though I doubt it ... we have since acquired a sheep which invariably gets to the feed first), whether this is "just nature taking its course", or something else.

    I am hoping to become more knowledgeable via this forum before we lose them all :-(

    All help most welcome
     
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  2. Jun 19, 2017 at 7:13 AM
    promiseacres

    promiseacres True BYH Addict

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    :welcome

    Be sure to post your alpaca questions in the alpaca and llama disease section so the experts can help. Sorry I know nothing about them but want you to be welcomed. ;)
     
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  3. Jun 19, 2017 at 7:40 AM
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    What a heartbreak! I am sorry that ya'll have experienced such loss. By all means, post in the llama and alpaca forum, some very knowledgeable people there.

    Welcome to BYH! I just "met" you on TEG! I am glad that you are joining the sites as there is a lot of information in the forums, plus lots of the nicest people!
     
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  4. Jun 19, 2017 at 7:50 AM
    Hillaire

    Hillaire Ridin' The Range

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    welcome! it's never easy loosing livestock or any animal at that... as for your tick problem you should think about getting some guinea fowl they are great tick eaters
     
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  5. Jun 19, 2017 at 10:35 AM
    luvmypets

    luvmypets Herd Master

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    Oh no! I am so sorry for your loss :hit

    What comes to my mind first is parasites. Did you ever worm them? Alpacas are extremely unique creatures but with that comes there sensitivity to pretty much everything. We started with three males and we no longer have them because we learned the hard way how important worming is. When you said paralysis ticks I instantly thought meningeal worm which is a worm caused by white tailed deer/snails and it is awful. Meningeal worm cannot be seen in fecals and is nuerological worm that once your animal goes down, it is too late. The worm imbeds itself into the spinal cord and works its way to the brain so once the animal is paralyzed there is unfortunatly not much you can do.
    Not my photo but you can see in an autopsy what it would look like
    IMG_9432.PNG
    Meningeal worm can be treated if caught early, first symtoms are rapid weight loss, you would see your animals ribs start to show as well as there spine and hips would be very pronounced. It can be harder to see in animals with a lot of fleece so the best way is to feel. Here is another photo I got off of google to show how you would score an animal in your herd.
    IMG_9433.JPG
    After the weight loss which goes about 40 days, you would see a tipsy walk followed by the animal going down, possible blindness or coma, and the eventual death.

    Now there are so many other things it could be but that is my first guess. If you can find a good livestock vet in your area and have some fecals run I would do that. With the amount of animals you have lost in such a big period of time I doubt it is a mineral deficiency. And if the fecals do not show anything you can look towards m-worm or a dietary aspect.

    Another thing that could play into the death of some of your alpacas is stress. Alpacas are so prone to stress. One of our first alpacas passed two months after we got him. We learned he had large ulcers in his throat caused by stress. Not only was this alpaca older but before he had moved to our farm he had lost his lifetime companion of 10+ years and had just moved for the first time in his life. I was wondering if maybe some alpacas were grieving/stressed after losing so many herd members.

    What do you feed them?
    Do you shear them at least once a year?
    How often/do you trim hooves?
    What do you do for minerals?

    I cannot think of anything else as of now but if I do I will let you know. I am only 2.5 years into raising alpacas and I still have much to learn but I hope at least I can help you. Feel free to send me a PM if you need:hugs I know how hard it is to lose animals so I wish you the best of luck in figuring everything out.

    ETA: with the sheep do not let that sheep help itself. Sheep are sensitive to copper and although they need very very small amounts in their diet, you should never give them any other feed besides their food(all stock feed, sheep formula, etc). Not only that but you do not want to let that sheep eat the other food. Believe it or not sheep can eat themselves to death, sounds ridiculous but I lost the first lamb we ever had to that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017 at 10:42 AM
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  6. Jun 19, 2017 at 11:08 PM
    DebLewis

    DebLewis Exploring the pasture

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    Thanks for the suggestion ... we worm them regularly ... vet visits our place at least once a year, but more frequent if necessary. We are in Australia, and the paralysis tick is a very real problem ... with the first couple I found them and removed them, but the vet said too late. I actually had a tick on my head just yesterday ... they hurt like hell, but alpaca can't tell you when they're hurting.

    With the last few we lost, I posted on a FB group and they suggested malnutrition, so i googled a bit, and found out a lot I didn't know before ... e.g. too much rich food can cause problems because they have two stomachs (do I remember that correctly?)

    Now I'm stuck ... because they have grazed pretty low, so I worry that they are not getting enough food ... but obviously concerned now not to overfeed them.

    And now one has gone lame, so perhaps we will have to invest in another vet visit

    :-(

    Good to talk
     
  7. Jun 19, 2017 at 11:52 PM
    Devonviolet

    Devonviolet True BYH Addict

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    :frow Howdy, Deb! First, I would like to welcome y'all to BYH! :frow Since most BYH members seem to be from the US, I just love it when people, from other countries, join us. :celebrate

    Wow! I'm so sorry you have lost so many of your alpacas. I know next to nothing about them. Although, at one time, waaay before we moved to Texas, to start our little homestead.

    The one thought I had, since you are losing so many animals, is to take one that died, to the Vet and have them do a Necropsy - basically an autopsy, to see if they can find the cause of death.

    Once again . . . :welcome
     
  8. Jun 20, 2017 at 12:56 AM
    Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYH Addict

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    What kind of minerals does your vet advise you feed them? I don't know much about alpacas either but if you have babies dying like that, as well as adults, those folks who point to nutrition could be on the right track.

    I'd say, if you are running out of grass, free choice hay would be a good feed choice and lay off too many grains...I'm doubting that grain based feeds are native to their original environment and they may do poorly on them, who knows? Then I'd supplement with a good mineral mix per your vets advice....your vet have much experience with camelids?
     
  9. Jun 20, 2017 at 4:45 AM
    DebLewis

    DebLewis Exploring the pasture

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    We bought them to graze, so most of their food is grass ... in addition once a day they get a mix of "non-heating stud mix" and "lucerne".
    Yes they are sheared once a year
    Hooves were trimmed by previous shearers, but not this last time ... have to find someone who will come here (we are a long way from nowhere)
    We haven't (yet) done anything specific for minerals ... and someone on FB said that is the problem, particular magnesium

    Thank you for offering to share what you have learned ... I am looking forward to the dialogue on this forum
     
  10. Jun 20, 2017 at 4:47 AM
    DebLewis

    DebLewis Exploring the pasture

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    My vet actually owns several alpaca ... but he didn't suggest any mineral supplement
     
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