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  • Anthelmintic Resistance in Gastrointestinal Nematodes of Alpacas (Vicugna pacos) in Australia

    BACKGROUND: Gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) can cause significant economic losses in alpacas due to lowered production of fibre and meat. Although no anthelmintics are registered for use in alpacas, various classes of anthelmintics are frequently used to control parasitic gastroenteritis in alpacas in Australia and other countries. Very little is known about the current worm control practices as well as the efficacy of anthelmintics used against common GINs of alpacas. This study aimed to assess the existing worm control practices used by Australian alpaca farmers and to quantify the efficacy of commonly used anthelmintics against GINs of alpacas. more »
  • The Impact of Fleece Characteristics on Insulation and Heat Exchange, and the Consequential Effect on Vitamin D of Alpacas in Southern Australia

    Alpacas are a fleeced mammal, originating from the high altitudes of the Andes in South America, and imported into southern Australia as part of a niche alpaca-fibre industry. The climatic conditions in Australia where alpacas are raised are much hotter, but with lower (and seasonal) ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels, than what alpacas were adapted to in the Andes. Although the industry breeding objectives are to achieve higher quality and quantity of fleece, the knowledge on how these parameters are affecting animal health and welfare in Australia is limited. In particular, it is unknown if the insulation of the fleece would protect alpacas from radiant heat (and heat stress) during an Australian summer. Additionally, it is unknown if certain 'desirable' fleece types (combinations of fleece characteristics) affect the potential of alpacas to sweat, and/or to block out UV radiation penetration to the skin for the synthesis of vitamin D. The purpose of the research in this thesis is to investigate the influence of the fleece characteristics on insulation from radiant heat, and its consequential effect on potential heat stress and vitamin D synthesis of alpacas in southern Australia. First, the potential for heat loss via sweating was tested by quantifying the density of total, primary, and secondary follicles and sweat gland ducts in the skin of Huacaya alpacas varying in fibre thickness. Second, to measure the impact of the fleece characteristics (diameter, density, length and colour) on the insulation and radiant heat load, I tested alpaca fleeces (half with light colouring and half with dark) which had a range of fibre diameters and densities and were cut to three different fleece lengths. Fibre diameter and fibre/follicle density were correlated in all circumstances. Third, because of the insulating effects of the fleece, the effect of fleece structure has on the level of vitamin D3 was tested for two groups of alpacas, selected for their fibre quality (fine and dense or thick and sparse fibre), in both winter and summer, and also pre- and post-shearing in spring. Lastly, I investigated the importance of fleece distribution, particularly around the face, and measured the effect of face-wool cover and fleece colour (light vs dark) on vitamin D production during winter when the UV intensity was low. It is indicative from these results that the fleece is an efficient barrier against solar and UV radiation and should help to prevent heat stress on alpacas if managed correctly, but may hinder vitamin D synthesis. With increased primary follicle density and sweat gland duct density parallel to total follicle density, sweating potential is not limited. While fleece structure had little impact on the insulation, radiant heat load, or vitamin D3 synthesis, fleece length was an important factor, with reduced fleece length being favourable for vitamin D3synthesis but a longer fleece more favourable for insulation from radiant heat. Additionally, alpacas with more face-wool, or those that are dark-coloured, are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency in winter than alpacas with lighter-coloured fleeces or less face-wool, and therefore these animals need to be managed during winter by additional supplementation or clipping around the face to expose a larger area to UV radiation. It has been demonstrated that longer fleece will reduce the radiant heat load in summer but shorter fleece is beneficial for vitamin D3 synthesis when levels are low at the end of winter. While vitamin D deficiency remains as an issue for the alpaca fibre industry, overall, breeding selection towards higher quality and quantity of fleece should not be detrimental to the health of alpacas in Australia. more »
  • An Introduction to Diseases of Alpacas in Australia

    Although not the subject of this article, for long term herd health it is important that the following fundamental elements are in place: Good nutrition and husbandry, protection from extremes of weather, parasite control strategies and genetic selection for health (e.g. fertility, adequate milk production, good cria growth rates, freedom from genetic disease, avoidance of excessive in-breeding, etc), not just selection for fleece characteristics and the show ring. more »
  • Code of Welfare for Alpacas and Llamas: Australia, 2016

    The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep and Cattle were endorsed by the Commonwealth of Australia in January 2016. The aim was to establish fundamental obligations relating to the care of sheep and cattle in Australia. Concurrently, the Australian Alpaca Veterinarians, a Special Interest Group of the Australian Veterinary Association, has compiled a code of welfare for alpacas and llamas in Australia to set out in detail minimum standards and recommendations relating to all aspects of the care of camelids. more »
  • Control of Lice in Alpacas

    Lice infestation of alpacas is widespread in Australia, albeit at low levels, and its presence is usually detected in herds at shearing time. Lice are species specific, meaning that camelid lice only infect camelids, cattle lice only infect cattle and sheep lice only infect sheep. There are two genuses of camelid lice, namely the biting or chewing louse, Bovicola spp. (Figure 1), and the sucking louse, Microthoracius spp. The former genus of lice feed superficially on the skin, the latter penetrate the skin and feed on tissue fluids. more »
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