Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Composting Alpaca Manure

Composting is an essential part of degrading manure.  Composting reduces the volume of the non-composted material by 70-80% - and all you need to do is let it "cook".  The heat involved kills viable parasites and other worms that could otherwise enter a grazing animal.  Additionally, composting allows the humus content of the manure to be returned to the soil in a way that is hygienic and boosts many soils’ nutritive levels. 
Fresh alpaca manure by itself has a low composition of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K).  These are the standard abbreviations seen on a bag of fertilizer.  The percent levels of these nutrients in alpaca manure is about 1,2,1, meaning on a weight basis, a nitrogen level of 1%, a potassium level of 2% and a phosphorus level of 1%.

Composting degrades the physical “beans,” rendering the compost a very rich medium, but not as high as to “burn” plants, seedlings or forages.  I use composted alpaca manure as a seed starter.
You start the compost pile with a shovel full of black dirt from the field, forest or other compost pile, mixing it in with beans and some water.  Composting is best done alternating layers of nutrients (which I like to call the “lasagna” concept). In alternating layers, we stack beans from the pasture, then waste hay, leaves (in the fall), and other leafy greens (weeds) from the vegetable garden in the summer.  It is critical not to put in kitchen waste as this will attract all kinds of wild creatures (opossums, raccoons, bear, etc).
The pile needs to be wetted down (damp sponge feel), depending on your weather patterns, heat, wind, etc.  Every month or so, you can turn the pile, pulling out the material on the bottom and adding it to the top.  Depending on the pile size, this can be done with a pitchfork or bucket loader.  Although not necessary, this turning accelerates the process. 

A compost pile will steam, like a volcano, in the winter due to the high internal heat.  This temperature reaches 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit and is quite a surprise on a nippy winter day.  Turning over the pile reveals the tremendous heat source and you can feel the heat radiating to your face.  This heat destroys the few viable seeds in alpaca manure – thus producing compost that is low in future weeds.

I do not apply compost until it has aged about a full year (four full seasons).The best time to put compost down is the rapid growing season when it will not run off with spring rains.  I put some in the wheel barrow and toss it out, then rake the result smooth with a leaf rake.  The deep dark color and marvelous organic small are a pleasant experience.

Recall that the nutritive content, by the way of measuring the percent levels of N-P-K, are low.  Why, then does the pasture or garden respond so well to composted manures?  The answer is that the organic level of soil has been increased through humus.  This humus is now laden with millions of beneficial bacteria that assist in facility uptake of soil fertility in the roots of the plant.  The bacteria that develop in compost pile are not pathogenic (harmful) to alpacas, people, dogs/cats etc., but rather are the normal and natural bacteria found in good, dark and rich fertile soils.

You can grow plants in washed sand (devoid of organic matter) with the daily application of water and some nutrients.  However, the soil has no resiliency and you must add fertilizer virtually on a daily basis.  The humus aspect of soil is the actual living aspect of the earth that allows plants to grow.

In summary, composting degrades organic matter to humus and is an excellent way to process your alpaca manure.

We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alpaca Customization – How to Make Alpacas Pay Their Way

Whether you have two animals or 20, your alpacas can help pay their way.  Here is a list of ideas to help you recognize the potential of your animals and how you can capitalize on the qualities that make them so unique.  Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, but every one of them could work for someone.

We’ve tried to provide you with ideas to get your creative juices flowing, as well as suggestions on where you can get more information about certain topics.  While we make our living off of alpacas, most people will not.  That doesn’t mean they can’t help pay for their care and feeding – and in many cases a good deal more.  It won’t happen unless you make it happen! 

There are many options for using your llama and alpaca fiber no matter what quality or quantity you have.  If you want to earn some money with it, the one option you don’t have is to leave it stacked up in your barn.  Why send your fiber off for processing?  Why not sell it as it comes off the animal?  That certainly is an option, but when you have it processed, you add value to the raw fiber that brings you bigger returns when you sell the product.  Each step in the production process adds value as well as increases the dollar investment you have in the product.  Here are some guidelines to help you determine the best options for your own fiber and circumstances.

You need to know what type of fiber you have.  There are various levels of “expert opinion,” and the methods you choose may depend on your opportunities and budget.  They include histograms, fleece show contests and on-farm evaluations by a fiber judge.  Baby alpaca grade versus fine fleece. You can also get a very good evaluation of your fleeces by utilizing local fiber people and guilds, shearers, other llama and alpaca breeders, and your self-evaluation (especially if you take the time to educate yourself about fiber).  Consider organizing an “evaluation event” with other breeders or through your local organization.

Once you know the quality of each fleece, sort them into the low, medium, and high quality levels and determine to what use each category will be put.  There are uses for every level of fiber.  Here are just a few of the possibilities: yarns of all types, roving and batts for spinners and felters, kits, rugs, art, quilt batts, dog beds, fine blankets, and fashionable garments from Main Street to high end.  The possibilities are endless, but you need to determine which levels of fleeces you have and select potential uses that fit those quality levels.  Contact other livestock fiber breeders who could use your fiber in blends.  You could also create a unique product that no one else offers.

Both mini-mills and fiber pools/cooperatives are processing options.  You will need to determine which best fit your needs.  If you are new to the world of fiber processing, use the Internet to research and explore various sites. Many provide extensive information on how to prepare your fiber for processing, and you will also learn a specific fiber art vocabulary that will be helpful when working with a mill.  A simple search of alpaca and llama fiber processors will bring up more than 7,000 sites.

Arrange to visit at least one mill that is located fairly close to you.  It will help you understand how important each step in process is for a quality product.  You don’t have to become an expert, but do learn the basics of fiber processing.  You will be able to make educated decisions and create a plan for the best and most profitable use of your fiber harvest. Here are some questions to ask when visiting a mill or talking to a mill owner.

  • If they wished their customers learned one thing about fiber processing, what would that be?
  • What steps can fiber producers take before sending their fiber off for processing that would save them money?
  • How important is a good shearing job when it comes to fiber processing?
  • Will they give you feedback or contact you if they feel, based on their experience, that the quality of the fiber identified for a certain type of processing is not what it should be for that product?
  • Do they feel there is a use for all fiber?
  • What is included in each service they list?  This may already be answered in their price list.
  • What is their turnaround time?
  • Are the prices based on the weight of the fiber coming in or the weight after processing?  This may also be in the price list.
  • Ask to see samples of their work.
  • Ask for referrals – and contact the referrals.

Llama and alpaca farms are deal for agri-tourism opportunities. Field trips and farm tours provide you with an opportunity to educate as well as earn money.  You could also contact a tour operator in your area and have your farm included in the bus tour they offer.  Produce a farm brochure and place it in local chamber of commerce locations or nearby highway rest areas (check with your state tourism department for permission).

Have a retail shop on your farm to produce a shopping opportunity for those who visit. (A “shop” can vary from a separate building to a room in your house to a corner of your front porch.)  Include not only your fiber and fiber related products, but also other commodities your raise on your farm – pumpkins, squash, berries, apples, herbs – manure! – and the like.  Create your own tour by getting together with others and producing a joint brochure that describes each of the stops.  All stops could be llama and alpaca farms – or fiber related in some way – or you might create a tour with three or four very different kinds of operation s (cheese factory, apple orchard, antique store, etc.).

Bed and breakfasts are another business activity that can fit will with camelid farms, especially if you are within a reasonable driving distance of major metropolitan area.  Regulations vary from state to state but are usually much less strict than those for motels and hotels.  Visit with B&B’s about the pros and cons of such a business to see if it fits with your lifestyle and see what start-up and promotional help is available from state or provincial agencies.

Provide services form other camelid owners (or potential owners). Shearing and nail trimming can be a good business.  Rent your excess pastures or rent out your animals to trim the grass at someone else’s place and fee them at no cost at the same time.  Boarding the animals you sell is another options, especially if you live near a major metropolitan area; board llamas and alpaca for those who want to own them but don’t have the acreage to keep them.  Maybe you’re one of the business-oriented fiber people who could make a go of it by opening a mini-mill.

Many states have special agri-tourism programs that can provide you with help-and sometimes even grants.  Check with the agriculture, tourism, and economic development agencies in your state.  Your local County Extension Office or Farm Bureau often has information on these programs and can help point the way to the agency that best fits your needs. A number of states also offer programs to promote made in their state items.  See if your products could be a part of their promotional packages.
Public Relations
While you don’t earn money directly from community service activities, they can get you the kind of exposure that will come back to you in farm visits and product and animals sales.  These activities can include packing trash out of ditches on cleanup days or assisting national parks and forest in their cleanup efforts, being part of fundraising walkathons or ringing bells for the Salvation Army, collecting items for the local food pantry or visiting local schools and nursing homes.  We attend a local farmers market in the park every Tuesday during the summer as a petting zoo and general feel-good event.  The sales come back to us during the holiday season when they actually want to buy a warm hat.  The opportunities are endless to get you and your animals involved in local community projects.

You can also earn money by performing public relations activities for many types of businesses and individuals.  Business grand openings and anniversary celebrations generate much more excitement when llamas or alpacas are involved.  We bring our alpacas to the college orientation and parents usually buy products for their kids.

Hold an annual farm open house where you set up education exhibits, displays and demonstrations, and offer hands-on opportunities with your animals.  Enlist the help of your friends.  Spring and fall are great times for such an event, but you might also consider scheduling an open house to coincide with a local festival or other such activity.  Another possibility is to work with other llama and alpaca farms in your area to jointly advertise an “open house tour” of all your farms on the same day.  Offer your products and animals for sale in eye-catching displays.

Markets and Marketing
You can have a product – be it fiber, animals, or services – but if no one know about it, they won’t be beating a path to your door.

Tap into the current “go green” and “buy local” marketing campaigns.  From their fiber to their pellets, llamas and alpacas are a perfect fit for the “green” market, and many promotional materials and programs already are available.  Local markets save on transportation costs and also have that “homegrown” touch.  Check your farmers’ markets and spots where you as a “fiber farmer” can sell your fiber and manure and advertise our services.  Take your animals along.  In addition, take your animals and products to local festivals and craft fairs.

Get involved with your local youth, from agriculture days at elementary schools to working with older youth in FFA and 4-H.  Teach classes about both the animals and their fiber. Join local guilds, chamber of commerce and other such groups and associations.

Offer to provide a program at one of their meetings.  Get your fiber into a local yarn shop, and offer to teach a fiber class there.  Bring the animals one day for a special promotion.  Donate your products (a bask of yarn, a gift certificate, socks) to silent auctions and other fundraisers.

Don’t be too lazy or afraid to do some self promotion.  Place ads in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines.  Learn how to write press releases and when to use them to generate publicity for your farm or event.  Submit a special article to a local paper or publication.  If you don’t feel confident as a writer, submit the idea for a story and offer to work with one of the writers.  Most importantly, get out in public with your animals!  PEOPLE LOVE TO SEE THE ALPACAS!  Head to a craft fair, hike with your animals in the local park or state park.  Be creative – just get your animals out there.

Good Business Practices

When selling your alpacas, the first thing you need to do is find out the buyer’s goals.  When do they want them?  What do they plan to do with them? Then you can help provide buyers with the information they need to make good decisions about the animals.  Owning an animal that can live up to 20 years is a big commitment.  Help them plan not only for proper care, handling and nutrition, but also to consider estate planning for their animals – if they new owners die or become seriously ill, what will happen to their animals?  This is the time, too, to talk about retirement planning and how to start downsizing well before totally retiring form raising these animals.

Sellers need to mentor buyers do active follow-up with them.  Don’t wait for them to come back to you with questions because some of them may be hesitant.  Be proactive in reaching out to them.  Offer to help give shots or trim toenails a time or two so they can learn by watching and asking questions.  Give buyers a membership application to your local camelid organization, or purchase a membership for them.  At the same time, provide your camelid organization with the names of new buyers so they can issue a personal invitation to join the group.

Provide buyers with potential end uses for alpacas so they can determine possible income generators that fit their lifestyle and interests.  Just because it doesn’t interest you or fit your needs doesn’t mean it might not be perfect fit for potential buyers of your animals. Don’t limit your market by focusing only on your own interests – learn as much as you can about how your animals can be used to that you can sell interested clients on those may options.

We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alpaca Emac - A Lethal Parasite (Eimeria Macusaniensis (EM))

Eimeria Macusaniensis ( commonly called Emac ) is a type of coccidia seen only in alpacas. There are four types of coccidia seen in alpacas. Emac is rarely seen or identified and even in research very few cases are ever identified. Coccidia as a whole is a necessary part of life in any species, and exposure helps build tolerance and potential immunity.  Without this the animal will not survive, as coccidia is everywhere and so if an animal is never exposed to coccidia, they will have no immunity to fight it, because it is impossible that any animal will not be exposed to coccidia at any stage of life.  For treatment, if there are less than 100 eggs on a slide, it does not need to be treated with Panacure (SafeGuard). However, Emac, which is type of coccidian, can be lethal and must be treated if you see just one egg.
The normal cycle of coccidia is that in times of stress, such as transport, lactating females, weaning or a male just maturing, the body will throw out more oocysts in their feces. Once the oocycsts hit air, it takes 48 hours for the oocycst’s to sporulate and reproduce. Prior to the 48 hrs, it is not contagious. The only form of transmission is from contact with the sporulated species. Coccidia can be identified when performing random worm tests, however for the most accurate and likely identification, the sample must be prepared differently than normal screening tests.  It must be tested in a sugar floatation method.  It is essential to identify the type of Coccidia.  Eimeria Macusaniensis (EM) compared to the normal coccidia normal is about 30 millimeters in width where the EM is 100 millimeter in length, and is dark and ugly, and also has four cells inside it). They also have thick oocyst walls (approximately 8-12 ╬╝m thick) and an obvious micropylar cap. Eimeria macusaniensis is considered by some to be highly pathogenic in alpacas. This coccidian may have the potential to cause death and disease in both young and adult camelids.
Animals are most susceptible to have bouts of coccidian in times of stress. Oftentimes an infected alpaca with any parasite will have loose stool, not pelletized feces.  They also begin to loose weight and can become lethargic.  The difficult part of finding Emac in the system is that just because you did not find an egg; it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Eggs may slough the day before your sample, or the day after and is not consistent or predictable.  For example, during an Australian research test, 20 samples were taking on a set of animals over 3 days.  After taking 20 samples on each alpaca, they found some samples without oocysts on the first day, the next day there may be 5, and the next day none.
Corid and Albon have variable effects on EMac and are not as consistent as Ponazuril in successful treatment. EMac can cyst in the intestinal tract and cause chronic protein loss, weight loss and lethargy.  Rarely is diarrhea seen as with the other coccidian. Because the effects of Ponazuril on the developing fetus is unknown, it is recommended that females be at least 90 days out on their pregnancies and then treat THE ENTIRE GROUP for 3 days with Ponazuril and retest in 2 weeks.

We have heard Baycox has great success as well.  Dose rate is 20mg/Kg. ( .18 x body weight = cc) Two regimens, 10 days apart, oral.  The kicker is that it is really expensive - about $650 for a 1000 ml bottle.

We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Indepth Look at an Alpaca Tooth Abscess

Tooth abscess, also known as dental abscess and root abscess, is a condition in which pus is collected in the tissues surrounding a tooth, due to a bacterial infection. It usually occurs in the tissues around a decayed tooth or due to a failed root canal. Tooth abscess is of three types - a periodontal abscess, a gingival abscess and a periapical abscess. A gingival abscess occurs in the gum tissue without affecting the tooth, a periapical abscess occurs in the dental pulp or the root of a tooth, and a periodontal abscess occurs in the tissues and bones of a tooth. With good oral hygiene, it is unlikely that a person will have tooth abscesses. Normally a tooth abscess occurs on it's own - that is, an infection of one tooth. However, if that tooth infection goes unchecked, other teeth may become compromised by the infection as well.

Tooth abscess causes

A tooth abscess is caused due to tooth decay or a bacterial infection in the tissues surrounding a tooth. Bacteria enters the dental pulp and weakens it. It is caused due to the destruction of the tooth enamel and the dentin, in a decayed tooth. Also, if an infected dental nerve is not treated on time, the bone around the root of the infected tooth weakens and allows bacteria to enter, causing pus to collect and form an abscess.

Common Causes of tooth abscess:

1. - The infection was there when the tooth had dental work performed on it; such as a crown, or root canal, or filling. Normally the tooth had been compromised by infection through a cavity in the tooth. The germ, that would later go on to form the tooth abscess, was NOT completely killed off when the tooth was repaired.
2.  The cause of a tooth abscess may be time delayed. If it has been a while since the tooth had work on it - then, for some reason the tooth abscess germ, which was there, is now out of control and has now formed a tooth abscess - this loss of control of the infection is put down to a degraded or weakened immune system at that time the infection took hold. For some reason the immune system just isn't up to keeping the germ in check - that's the theory of it anyway.
3.  The cause of tooth abscess may be age related: A weakness in the tooth develops as it ages, such as a microscopic crack, which allows the infection to enter the tooth, or the gum withdrawing from the tooth, allowing a germ to enter more easily. Being aged also can mean a degraded immune system is more common.
4. The cause of the tooth abscess may be a cavity that has allowed a germ to enter the soft pulp part of the tooth, which is upsetting the nerve.
5. A seed, rock or foreign object is stuck between the tooth and gum line.  The gums become inflamed and agitated and a sinus / drain form out the bottom the jaw.  This is where the jaw bone becomes most vulnerable and can crack, as you will see in the video below.

The video below is a skull of Karina, a llama that developed a tooth abscess.  She became progressively skinnier and her jaw line bigger in a matter of weeks (once we realized there was an issue).  Eventually we needed to put her down.  When examining the cleaned skull, we were horrified to think of the pain she must have endured.  She lost her top row of teeth and the left bottom set slanted in, giving little to no room for her tongue.  This is why many tooth abscesses are often incurable.  Camelids remodel (grow) bone so fast that without the infection being cured, it may simply not be reversed.

Treatment for Tooth Abscess - Tooth Abscess Antibiotics

Since tooth abscess is caused by bacterial infections, the best treatment for it would be consuming antibiotics that cure the infections. The antibiotics prescribed reduce the infection and prevent it from spreading by penetrating deep into the pus cavities and the tooth bone. Analgesics can be consumed along with antibiotics to relieve the pain. Antibiotics of the penicillin group are administered as a tooth abscess remedy.

Tooth abscess antibiotics - typically penicillin ones - are normally prescribed by the dentist, after the dentist has taken X-rays to confirm the presence of the infection. Tooth abscess antibiotics normally control the tooth abscess extremely well, with most of the tooth abscess symptoms being alleviated within two or so days. the tooth abscess healed in about a five day course of antibiotics. The problem in using tooth abscess antibiotics, is that they are unable to penetrate into the tooth - the blood supply is through such small blood vessels that antibiotics are too big and are unable to travel along them. So the antibiotics used for tooth abscess often only has limited success, with later episodes of tooth abscess occurring as the infection gains a foot hold again - for me this means a recurring tooth abscess roughly every year or so. In other words, the tooth abscess germ once it gets into the tooth, can live there and breed there, but antibiotics cannot touch them in there. This later problem in using tooth abscess antibiotics, only exists if the germ has entered the tooth. The following tooth abscess antibiotics can be helpful.

  • Amoxicillin: It is used to cure and prevent infections, that can be caused or are caused by bacteria. They do not kill the bacteria, but stop them from multiplying by destroying their cell wall. Amoxicillin is available under various brand names like Amoxil, Dispermox and Trimox, in the form of tablets, capsules, chewable tablets and powder and tablets for suspension. It may cause some side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, itching and abdominal pain.
  • Metronidazole: It is used in the treatment of infections caused by susceptible bacteria, like anaerobic bacteria. It blocks a few of the functions of the infection causing bacteria within their cells which causes their death. Metronidazole is available under the brand name Flagyl, which is marketed by Pfizer in the form of tablets, capsules and injections. It may have a few side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, etc.
  • Clindamycin: This is prescribed for those allergic to antibiotics of the penicillin group. It prevents and eliminates infection, by stopping bacterial growth. It is available under the brand name Cleocin, in the form of tablets. It should be taken at equal intervals and for the prescribed duration, as stopping consumption early can cause the bacteria to grow again. It may have some side effects like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
  • Co-amoxiclav: This is an antibiotic containing a combination of potassium clavulanate and amoxicillin trihydrate. It is available under the brand names of Exclav, Augmentin, Synermox, etc. It may have minor side effects like diarrhea or nausea.

  • We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Two Necessary Alpaca Potions - Alpaca Wound Treatments

    Alpaca Wound Treatments

    Over the years of being in the alpaca business, there are more than a few curious things about alpacas that keep on rising up.  Among these are two medical issues that, with the right treatment, are easy to solve.

    The first is what is often called the alpaca witch's brew, an open wounds ointment for alpacas that actually works:
    • 1 part Lotrimine - if dealing with the possibility of a fungus
    • 1 part hydrocortisone - for the itching 
    • 1 part swat - for the flies
    Mix these ointments together and apply on an open wound.  Works great.

    This one took us a little longer to figure out, and finally came across a viable solution in an alpaca magazine.  Every once in a while, an alpaca will develop what we affectionately call "the Munge".  It is crusty, hard skin that almost as the looks like warts or a scabbing wound but isn't. Many believe it is caused by mites, while others - like us - have no idea what it is.  On the nose and around the mouth it can be bubbly.  On the foot, it can can be bumpy and develop almost a cottage cheese texture between the toes.  It can be anywhere - on the back, neck, anal area. 

    The bad news is that if it is not kept in check, it will severely spread.  The good news is that it is easy to treat.  You need to get perscription strength Frontline Spray from you vet.  It can be expensive, but will last a long time and it actually works.  Spray the affected area throughly every 3 weeks (no more, no less) for 4-5 treatments.
    Do not spray into the eyes or mouth.  Spray the solution on a cloth and wipe onto the affected area.  Spray directly between the toes.

    We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

    Sunday, October 7, 2012

    Alpaca Tooth Abscess Care

    On occasion, you will begin to see a bulge on the lower jaw of an alpaca.  Usually it starts the size of a marble and can grow from there.  These are dangerous because tooth abscesses can infect the tooth, weaken the bone and potentially break the jaw.

    Older camelids: This is usually caused by a tooth abscess. To determine if that is the case, put your finger(s) (carefully) into the mouth between the cheek and the gum where the abscess is. What do you feel? Swelling? Nothing? or can't tell.  If that is difficult to do... feel outside the jaw above the abscess.
    It's best if you can find out if this is related to the teeth before you visit a vet.
    If it is a tooth problem...or at least as best you can tell. You are going to have to see a vet to take care of it.   Oftentimes, we are prescribed a  shot of micotil, 1 cc per 100 lbs, and 14 days of pills ISONIAZID (3 per day).  Use an animal pill dispenser to administer the medication.

    Young Camelids:
    If it is not part of a tooth, more than likely can handle the issue by yourself, at least initially.
    1. Use a wet warm/hot clean rag to hold over the abscess area. Do this until it softens up. Begin moving and breaking the abscess.
    2. When you do you will get a lot of white goo coming out.. This is white blood cells and are there to attack the infection.

  • Clean it out, you should see some 'raw' red color in the abscess hole. You can use gauze and saline solution to help you. Avoid using alcohol!
  • When it's clean, squirt some Betadine (or most any good anti-bacteria solution) in there to coat the area good.  Avoid using alcohol!
  • Give a penicillin shot at 5cc/100 lbs, SubQ.
  • Repeat 1 through 4 everyday for 5-7 days.

  • Towards the 4th day you should start seeing significant improvement. The abscess 'hole' should start filling in and become less deep. And producing less and less white blood cells. At this point you can reduce steps 1-4 perhaps every other or every third day. Until it completely heals up.  

    There may be some excess skin around the abscess and you think you might trim that up -  But don't.   If you feel you absolutely need to trim it up, go see your vet.

    We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Cria Milk Substitute Comparisons

    On occasion, we have had to feed our cria using a milk substitute. Sometimes the mother was not producing enough milk, was completely absent or the cria was too sick to nurse. If the mother is available, I would highly encourage you to milk the alpaca dam for the milk.  If you do need a supplement, below is a comparative chart for milk substitutions.  While llama milk is the closest substitute possible, it is not available to us in our area.  So, we buy raw goat milk from a local farm and freeze it until it is needed.  If at all possible, obtain / purchase unpasteurized milk.

    Understandably, this is not a common on-the-shelf product.  We are in contact with a local woman who raises goats (establishing the relationship prior to an emergency).  We have also found Raw / Non-pasturized Goat Milk at a higher end pet store.  And, when in doubt go online.  Powdered or frozen colostrum is also recommended to have on hand when needed.

    Milk Composition Comparison

    Whole Milk
    2% Milk
    ½ Whole & 1/2 Cream
    3 t yogurt/ 8 oz milk
    TdC Milk Replacer

    Fat, %
    Sugar, %
    Protein, %  
    Ca, ppm

    P, ppm


    K, ppm

    Cl, ppm

    S, ppm

    Na, ppm

    75% DV
    Mg, ppm

    Zn, ppm
    4.19 ± 0.95

    Ba, median ppm

    Cu, median ppm

    Fe, Mean ppm

    10% DV

    ME, kcal/100g
    70.02 ± 9.40



    *Significant farm effect.

    ** "…relative proportions of protein subclasses differ; caseins predominate in both species, but llama milk has no detectable ├člactoglobulin and has a higher proportion of lactoferrin."
    "…carbohydrates (complex or simple?) provide relatively more, and fat relatively less, of the energy needs for the nursing cria compared with that of domestic ruminants."
    Trace mineral concentrations in llama milk compare favorably w/ those for cow milk.
    All cites and data from Morin, et al., 1995.

    Whole Milk
    Whole Milk
    2% Milk
    2% Milk

    Serving Size
    8 oz, 224 g

    8 oz, 244 g

    6 oz, 170.25 g



    Fat, %

    Sugar, %

    Protein, %

    Ca, ppm

    Na, ppm

    Ca, %DV


    Na, %DV


    Fe, %DV


    USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18


    Ca content: 452 mg / 8 oz; 8 oz is 227
    Wallaby Yogurt, Vanilla Creamy Style Low fat Organic
    6 oz (452 mg/ 8 oz) = 339 mg Ca = 0.339 g Ca
    Ingredients: cultured pasteurized reduced fat milk, org. evap. cane juice, org. extract of vanilla, org. locust bean gum, pectin.
    If 36 t = 6 oz then 1 t = 9.4 mg Ca
    L. acidopiles, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, bifudus
    1T = 3 t then 1T = 28.2 g Ca

    This information was compiled by Brenda Gallagher Tierra del Cielo Alpaca Ranch, Watkins, CO - 2012

    We are an alpaca farm with 150 quirky alpacas, 10 enthusiastic employees and thousands of amazing alpaca products. After 15 years of experience, we offer hand crafted alpaca products from local knitters, crocheters and weavers - including hats, scarves, blankets as well as high-tech alpaca socks and fabrics. We also sell composted alpaca manure as a rich fertilizer. Alpacas of Montana is a fully vertically integrated alpaca farm and we love designing high quality alpaca products.