Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Catch-up Post

It's been a while since I last posted about the farm. As ever 'things' rather took over, the main thing being that my beautiful PR alpaca, Ashan, died. I went out one day and found him in the field unable to get up. I rushed him into the house and called the vet; his temperature was very low but apart from that there were no other clues as to the problem. He had an antibiotic and IV fluids and I packed hot water bottles round him and covered him with a blanket - thankfully my kitchen floor (the warmest room in the house) is glass tiled on concrete.

He seemed to recover and the following day his temperature was back to normal and he was up and wanting the others. One fast clear out of the animal part of the barn and Ann came over to help me walk all the alpacas up to the barn so that I could keep an eye on Ashan and he would have the company and the warmth of the others.

The following afternoon he was down again, again the vet came out and his temperature had plummeted again. He'd had another shot of antibiotic in the morning and seemed fine. This time he was obviously suffering but with what?

Sadly he died in my arms at 9:30pm, I'd gone back into the barn on one of my regular trips to collect and reheat the hot water bottles.

The next day the vet came over to do a post-mortem. I was expecting it to be due to worms or coccidia again. I'd had a long talk with Robin at Utopian alpacas and discovered from him that the Panacur I had been given for the alpacas was not strong enough and I had been told to give a far to small dose. None of the treatments used on alpacas have actually been tested on alpacas by the drug companies and it seems my vet was giving me the treatments designated for sheep. So I was given 2.5% or 4% Panacur when I should have been using 10%. The vet nearly had a fit when I administered nearly 5 times the cattle dose to the alpacas but that is what it takes.

The initial examination showed that Ashan had a full set of stomachs and that there were no lesions or ulcers so it looks like the gut was fine. Liver and kidneys looked OK too - I had to hold the body still while the vet cut, I don't think I would ever make a vetinary nurse but it was interesting all the same. She took away the lungs and heart to be examined my the main vet and I heard back later in the day that they felt there was congestion in the lungs and around the heart.

This diagnosis, and after discusion with Robin the fact that Ashan was dribbling before he died, has thrown up the posibility of Blue tongue. I've only been trying to get my animals vaccinated for the last 3 months! There is no official confirmation as it's been the holiday period and I don't think I'll hear anything until after the 5th. I've been told that there isn't enough vaccine, that I would get the vaccine when a larger herd of animals was vaccinated as the vaccine comes in doses of 100 animals and the vet wouldn't open a bottle just for 6 animals but I think I may have been given the real reason this time. While I'm registered as a farmer with alpacas, I'm not registered as a breeder of alpacas so I don't have a breeders number. This being France, If you can't fill in all the boxes on a form, which in this case would be a breeders number, you just don't get.

If I'd been told this was the problem back when I first asked I would be registered by now. As it is, that will be another job to do when the agriculture department opens again on the 5th.

On the plus side, I how have all the alpacas in the barn where I can keep a close eye on them and they have had a decent dose of wormer and I've also given them a dose of anti-coccidia treatment, one recommended by Robin. I really need to give them another type of wormer, Ivomec-D to work on any liver fluke that may be present. I have lots of the snails that indicate the possibility of liver fluke and the field they were in was very wet. However the vet won't order it for me. As I said he was horrified with the dose of Panacur I gave and has said I can't give another worming dose for at least 4 months.

I would normaly be in agreement on that but for the fact that I have lost an alpaca and I know that despite me giving the alpacas the treatments recommended by them I cannot get the alpacas to put on weight, in fact they are very under weight. If it's due to them having really high worm counts (oh and the vet doesn't think it necessary to have worm counts done) as they've not had the correct formulation or amount of wormer then I want to get them properly wormed as soon as possible.

This may sound a bit hard against my vet, it's not meant to be. He's probably the best vet around here but as alpacas are not common here and they don't appear in the dosage charts for the various medicine he plays safe.

So a bit of depression and a lot of work - Ann has been coming over a couple of afternoons a week and we've been pushing on with the fencing and nearly have the first field fenced - and I've not been posting. However, tomorrow is a new year.