• MRI Evaluation of Spontaneous Intervertebral Disc Degeneration in the Alpaca Cervical Spine

    Animal models have historically provided an appropriate benchmark for understanding human pathology, treatment, and healing, but few animals are known to naturally develop intervertebral disc degeneration. The study of degenerative disc disease and its treatment would greatly benefit from a more comprehensive, and comparable animal model. Alpacas have recently been presented as a potential large animal model of intervertebral disc degeneration due to similarities in spinal posture, disc size, biomechanical flexibility, and natural disc pathology. This research further investigated alpacas by determining the prevalence of intervertebral disc degeneration among an aging alpaca population. Twenty healthy female alpacas comprised two age subgroups (5 young: 2–6 years; and 15 older: 10+ years) and were rated according to the Pfirrmann‐grade for degeneration of the cervical intervertebral discs. Incidence rates of degeneration showed strong correlations with age and spinal level: younger alpacas were nearly immune to developing disc degeneration, and in older animals, disc degeneration had an increased incidence rate and severity at lower cervical levels. Advanced disc degeneration was present in at least one of the cervical intervertebral discs of 47% of the older alpacas, and it was most common at the two lowest cervical intervertebral discs. The prevalence of intervertebral disc degeneration encourages further investigation and application of the lower cervical spine of alpacas and similar camelids as a large animal model of intervertebral disc degeneration. more »
  • Facts About Embryo Transfer in Alpacas

    This article intends to answer questions about the application of embryo transfer in alpacas as a powerful tool to genetically improve herds. Its main purpose is to present the information available in an objective and simple manner to inform breeders of the advantages and limitations of the technique. more »
  • The Use of Alpacas as New-Born Lamb Protectors to Minimise Fox Predation

    Canine attacks on newborn lambs are a problem for sheep farmers, causing substantial economic losses to the sheep industry. Anecdotal evidence indicates that alpacas reduce the losses caused by such attacks when placed within sheep flocks. A trial was conducted at two sheep farms in rural NSW where experimental – ewes grazing with alpacas - and control– ewes grazing without alpacas – groups, with replication within and across farms were organised with a total of 6,483 breeding ewes. Overall weaning percentages for each flock of sheep were tabulated at 14 weeks and evaluation of performance between groups was conducted using descriptive statistics. An inferential statistical t test for pairs was conducted to find out the level of significance of the difference in performance between the trial and control groups. Combined weaning percentage for the control groups was 69.8% while the experimental groups showed a combined weaning percentage of 82.6%. Assuming equal mortality rate because of natural causes among the groups, it may be concluded that the presence of alpacas within the lambing paddocks increased lambing weaning percentage by 13% with a= 0.025 (i.e. confidence level = 97.5%). The economic benefit is obvious considering that there is an increase of 13 lambs for each 100 breeding ewes that valued at market prices represent a meaningful marginal farm income. more »
  • Alpaca Fiber Study by AOBA

    Alpaca is flame resistant, meeting the standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's rigid testing specifications as a Class 1 fiber for use in clothing and furnishings. Alpaca is resistant to external water penetration like wool, but can slowly wick away perspiration because of its unique ability to act like cotton in moisture regain. These factors are what makes alpaca feel lighter than wool, but warmer than cotton in cool, damp conditions. Alpaca is water resistant, making spills easy to clean up before water saturates the fiber allowing stains to develop. It is also adsorbent to oils, meaning that the oils do not penetrate the fibers, but merely cling to the fiber for easy cleaning without harsh chemicals. Alpaca is free of lanolin, and thus can be processed without the need for high temperatures or harsh chemicals in washing. Alpaca is a natural renewable fiber with a wide range of applications. more »
  • Investigation of the Dyeing Characteristics of Alpaca Fibers (Huacaya And Suri) in Comparison With Wool

    Luxury fibers have great importance in the field of high added value fabric production, but the studies related to these fibers are very limited. One of these luxury proteinous fibers is alpaca wool. In this study, dyeing characteristics (dye-uptake speed, color efficiency and nuance of color, fastness properties, etc.) of alpaca fibers (Huacaya and Suri) were investigated by taking sheep wool as a reference. Furthermore, analysis such as scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy was also carried out. According to the experimental results it was found that both dye-uptake speed and amount was in the range of sheep > Suri alpaca > Huacaya alpaca for milling acid dye. Furthermore, when their fastness properties were compared with sheep wool, it could be said that there was no difference for washing and perspiration fastness, while rubbing and light fastness of alpaca fibers were lower than sheep wool. more »

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