A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 8, 2008

A Couple of Updates


Things seemed to have settled down with young Dream’s milk intake.  While she had the one day when she seemed very hungry she has settled back to her pattern of taking 10 oz of milk or slightly less at each feeding.  The supplemental milk we give Dream is not a large part of her daily intake, she still has her dam Rosie who she nurses from and who seems to have a good supply of milk.  Some times when we are feeding Dream Rosie will wander over and call Dream away to nurse from her.  When that happens I do not intervene, Rosie needs to have her udder relieved and Dream needs the milk she produces.


Dream also nurses from Griffin the llama and when we body score Dream she is definitely not thin, but I have decided that for now we will stick with the 10 oz of milk twice a day rather than reducing it further.  In time Dream will most likely give me her own signals that she is ready to reduce the amounts she consumes and so I will follow her lead, at least until it comes time to wean her.  I did wonder the other day as I watched various alpaca crias nursing from the llamas at what point the llamas will tell the alpaca crias no more?  I suspect that once we do our final weaning that bond will be broken, but you never know, maybe one day I will be looking out and seeing those same crias all grown up and still nursing from the llamas!  Surely not!


We have made progress on our girl Queen who has the tooth abscess.  She has now finished her course of antibiotics and the swelling on her jaw is greatly reduced.  There is still a little bump there and we still have to drain and flush the abscess once a day.  We have noticed though that in the last two days the flush solution appears to be going into Queen’s mouth when we syringe it through the external hole of the abscess.  I can block the flush solution by placing my finger a little way up from the abscess and putting pressure on that area to block the progress of the fluid.  I am not sure that the bentadine/lactated ringer solution going into Queen’s mouth is detrimental to her, but if the flushing solution can make it into her mouth then I wonder if some of the pus from the abscess is traveling that way too.  We will be consulting our vet about the situation with Queen, but he is on vacation in Alaska until later this week.  (Lucky man – Alaska is beautiful at this time of the year and he well deserves the vacation).


In the back yard our Turffalo Tech Grass is also making progress.  The first sprigs we planted have started to grow and appear bushier.  They have also started to put out runners as they establish themselves in the ground.  The weeds unfortunately have started to creep back and so Ric is spending time every day pulling the little weeds from between the grass plugs.  Backbreaking work but it has to be done if the Turffalo Tech Grass is going to survive.


So good progress all in all, which is what we like to see.  Our pregnant girls who are due in the fall are also making progress of a different kind.  We see their crias moving around inside them and notice their appetites have increased; they also tend to take more breaks between sessions at the feed troughs, resting to chew their cud and enjoy the sunshine.  Not too many more weeks and they will be giving birth and we will be back into the cycle of delivering crias.  Funny it seems as if we just finished doing that!



July 22, 2008

One Lump or Two

Over the last few days we noticed that our alpaca Queen had something going on with her jaw.  The first sign was that she was not closing her lips properly but kept them slightly open, then some swelling started to appear on her jaw line and that swelling has grown quite rapidly.


Queen has had problems in this area before.  About two years ago she had a tooth abscess that we treated first with high dose antibiotics.  The abscess showed a little improvement but there was still a lot of swelling there.  An x-ray revealed that there was not any bone involvement at that time.  Sometimes with a tooth abscess the bone gets eaten away by the bacteria that is also causing the abscess causing further complications. 


When Queen had not responded to the high dose antibiotics our veterinarian suggested putting in an antibiotic implant.  The procedure was quick, Queen was given a sedative (to which she was very receptive) our vet made an incision in the area of the abscess, drained the abscess put in the implant and quickly sewed Queen up again.  The implant was left in for three weeks and then removed.  The removal was as quick and easy as the initial implant and the abscess by that time had gone.


Our vet had warned us that we may see further problems in that area of Queen’s jaw, and last year we did see some swelling but it soon went down again.  This year however the swelling was rapid and quite significant, getting to golf ball size very quickly.  By Sunday evening chores the swelling had gone from being hard in texture to becoming soft and pliable and so we felt that we may need to get it lanced by the vet.


We already had an appointment with the vet for today.  Some of the alpacas at our farm our returning to their owners and need brucellosis and TB tests for the health certificate in order that they may travel, so we called and asked if it would be okay if we could bring Queen in too to have her lump examined.   


I guess Queen heard us making the arrangements for a trip to the vet as by yesterday afternoon the lump had ruptured.  (Knowing Queen as we do we think she decided to take care of business herself rather than have the vet do it!).  We cleaned the area and the hole in the lump carefully, flushing it out with some bentadine solution.  We then dried it off and applied some wound dressing to help treat the area, keep it free from flies and yet still allow it to remain open to drain.  Queen will still be going to the vet today, just to have him cast his expert eye on the problem and advise us as to how to continue to treat it.


I suspect that for many days to follow we will be draining and irrigating Queen’s lump, but I am glad that it ruptured to the outside rather than into her jaw area which would be difficult to treat.  A course of antibiotics for Queen will also be quite likely.


All being well the lump will gradually diminish and we will not see any further instances of it.  The mere presence of the lump though does make me wonder if Queen may be a little run down, another thing to discuss with the vet.  Queen is in her middle years, nursing a large cria and we think expecting another cria and so it is possible that she could be run down and need some extra TLC for a while.   Nothing less than treatment fit for Queen I think!



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