Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthing day

Just got back from one of the education days for breeders that we put on here in South Australia. The theme for the day was ‘Birthing Problems’

Workshops in full swing

Not a day for the squeamish, the simulations and demonstrations where frighteningly realistic and used stillborn cria. I know that sounds ghoulish and, I admit that it probably wouldn’t have been my first choice of a way to spend Sunday afternoon but, there is simply no substitute for the real thing. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that when it was my turn to delve into the darkness and correct a bad presentation, I found myself suddenly taking things very seriously indeed. Approximately 2% of alpaca births have some type of problem – of these, most sort themselves out without intervention but a tiny minority can cause real problems and knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death for mother and baby in a country where a vet may be many hours away.

Chris and Adrienne from Ambersun sharing their experience

All-in-all a really useful session and one that we will have to repeat (we were limited to about 30 people and soon overbooked – there’s already a waiting list for the next one).

Everyone there got something out of it and we all shared our experiences (good and bad).

Halfway through the afternoon we were joined by Greg Rodda, one of our top Alpaca vets who provided a vet’s eye view and a wealth of experience.

I can’t finish this with out mentioning the art that you can see on some of the walls. These cartoons come from a terrific book called Llama and Alpaca Neonatal Care [Amazon link]


The book uses some brilliant cartoons by artist and llama breeder Kathleen McLeod which I scanned and enlarged to help lighten things up a bit. I mention it here because before using them, I emailed Kathleen to ask her permission – she not only gave the OK but was clearly very pleased to see them being used like this – If you get to read this Kathleen, many thanks from South Australia.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rain stops play

I shouldn’t be here at the moment, typing something on this little blog. Right now, I should be at the Uraidla and Summertown show talking about (and selling) alpacas. But, we’re having some unseasonable weather down here – nothing like the floods that they've suffered in Victoria and Queensland of course, but a bit different to the sweltering, 40 degree plus days we were having this time last year.

So anyway, there we were last night, putting the finishing touches to our stand (an information table, a display of fleece and other products, show ribbons and two pens of our most crowd-pleasing ‘pacas) when the call comes that we can’t get in – the area of the showground where we would have been is under six inches of water and there’s a new creek running through it.

SONY DSCWhat should have been the information table

There are plus sides though… We get the rare luxury of a day at home with no commitments and the paddocks are loving it. Last February our main concern about most of our farm was the fire risk, this year we’ve got fresh grass coming through – something that we don’t usually see until May.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bond’s story

Young Bond seems to be a regular visitor to this little blog. He got a photo and a mention when he was born a year ago and again when we started shearing. He’s never been quite good enough for the show team, but a photo of him has done well in a couple of competitions – he’s a natural crowd pleaser:


Anyway, the time came for Bond to move on, he was sold as a pet and delivered to his new home in early November. I have to admit that he was an animal that we were a little sorry to see go.

A few weeks later, it started to go wrong for his new owners. We’re still not sure what happened but it looks like he injured a knee and the injury became infected. A vet was called (not one that was very experienced with Alpacas) and prescribed antibiotics and regular dressings. There was no improvement and the vet, on a return visit, told the owners that he may have to be put down. We couldn’t let that happen and swapped him for another brown boy and brought him back to treat ourselves.

He was in a sorry state when we got to look at him, not the owners’ fault, his leg clearly needed quite a bit of TLC that they couldn’t really have been expected to provide.

DSC02700Day One, after cleaning and flushing

Not a pretty sight, but much better than it was before cleaning.

We turned one end of our veranda into a sick bay and brought in another young boy as a companion.

The daily treatment session, with concerned audience

We changed the antibiotics (we have a great and very supportive vet) and worked on the knee, cleaning and debriding the wound twice each day. It wasn’t long before it started to pay off.

Day ten, almost healed

Bond has now made a full recovery and is back with the rest of the herd. We’re taking the hint though and he’s off the ‘for sale’ list. He’s a great character and is so good natured that we’ll use him for country shows and school visits.

I like this convalescence lark – bring me another daiquiri!