Vitamins and Minerals

  • Assessment of Selenium Status in Alpaca

    The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between selenium (Se) concentration (which is used as direct method for diagnostics of selenium status) and activity of glutathione peroxidase (indirect method) in whole blood of alpacas and thus compare the suitability of use of these two diagnostic methods. A further objective was to determine Se status in relation to different age groups of alpacas and different Se supplementation. A total of 257 alpacas (196 adults and 61 crias) from 18 farms were included in this study. The farms differed in size and the use of Se supplement. The age of animals ranged from 4 days up to 16 years old. Blood samples were collected for measurement of whole blood Se concentration and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity. The activity of GSH-Px is given in μkat/l of whole blood and μkat/g of hemoglobin. The relation between concentration of Se and GSH-Px activity and the effect of sex, age and feeding pattern on these parameters were statistically evaluated. Mean (±SD) Se concentration was 84.1 ± 35.3 μg/l and ranged from 27.9 μg/l to 225.6 μg/l for all age groups. We found significant difference (PMore »
  • Copper Deficiency and Alpaca Disease, a Case Study

    How can we uncover any emerging or re-emerging disease in New World camelids unless we look for the cause of death when we lose an alpaca? This dilemma ultimately faces all owners at some point when raising alpacas. Finding the reasons for a death is good for our camelid medicine, and it is good for each owner, even if just for curiosity reasons, not to mention to ensure we are not dealing with a contagious disease. For me, the most important reason to determine cause of death is to add to the body of medical knowledge on alpacas. The cost is well worth it. There could be diseases emerging in the alpaca, diseases seen in other species, but not yet seen in the camelid. This is a case report about a well-known disease, and a not-so-well-known disease. As you will see, even when the cause of death is determined, you can be left with more questions than answers.More »
  • Dystrophic Mineralization of the Arterial Fibrovascular Tissue Associated with a Vitamin D Hypervitaminosis in an 8-year-old Female Alpaca (Vicugna pacos)

    Prophylactic Vitamin D supplementation is a common practice in Alpaca breeding in many regions around the world. An overdosage can lead to dystrophic mineralization of soft tissues. In this paper we illustrate a suspected case of hypervitaminosis D in an 8-year-old female Alpaca.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 »
  • Thiamine Depletion and Polioencephalomalacia: What Every Alpaca Owner Needs to Know

    The vitamin thiamine plays a critical role in alpaca health. Thiamine depletion can happen rapidly from a large number of causes and will lead to death unless promptly remedied by the immediate administration of injectable thiamine. Thiamine is inexpensive, but only available by prescription (in the United States) – and every camelid owner should have a bottle from their vet on hand at all times.More »
  • Vitamin D and Alpacas: The Importance of Vitamin D Supplementation in Alpacas

    Over the past several years, I have seen firsthand, the importance of vitamin D supplementation and unfortunately, the consequences of vitamin D deficiency. In the most severe form of vitamin D deficiency, commonly referred to as rickets, problems include permanent deformities, bone fractures and ultimately death if not corrected in time.More »