• Undegradable Dietary Protein in Alpaca Diets Affects Fibre Diameter and Time Spent Urinating

    There is evidence that alpacas derive most of their glucose for energy from the deamination of amino acids. Consequently, they may have an insufficient supply of amino acids to meet their requirements for fibre growth. To optimise fibre production, it may be necessary to supply alpacas with supplemental protein to meet their requirement for extra amino acids. In this study, we examined if the proportion of rumen-degradable dietary protein (RDP) to undegradable dietary protein (UDP) from canola meal influenced the fibre growth of alpacas. We hypothesised that alpacas fed at maintenance a diet containing canola meal protein high in UDP would produce more fibre and spend less time urinating than peers fed a similar amount of canola meal protein with a low proportion of UDP. Four groups of eight alpacas were fed diets with the following ratios of UDP : RDP: 0 : 100, 30 : 70, 60 : 40 or 100 : 0 from canola meal protein. The fibre growth of the animals was measured over 2 months and the behaviour of the animals in the two extreme groups (0 and 100% UDP) was measured over 5 days. The alpacas fed the 0% UDP diet produced fibre of finer diameter than the alpacas fed diets containing higher levels of UDP (P = 0.039) and the 0% UDP group also spent more time urinating (P = 0.027). This result suggests that alpacas may have a limited ability to recycle nitrogen to the fermentative chambers of their stomach when fed a diet low in UDP. Consequently, microbial protein synthesis in the fermentative chambers may have limited the supply of amino acids available to the alpacas. more »
  • Impact of Mycotoxins and of a Mycotoxin Deactivator on Alpacas Grazing Perennial Ryegrass Infected with Wild Endophyte (Neotyphodium spp.)

    Liveweight gain, animal health and the effectiveness of a mycotoxin deactivator were studied on an old pasture that contained 61% perennial ryegrass. Sixty-seven percent of the ryegrass population was infected with endophyte (Neotyphodium spp.). The pasture was fenced into two halves and two groups of 28 alpaca male weaners were rotated between the two plots. Nine to 10 Suris and 18–19 Huacayas were allocated to each group. One group was fed a concentrate supplement (100 g/head per day) and the other was fed the same supplement to which was added the toxin deactivator, Mycofix® Plus (5 g/100 g). Mean liveweight gain on the low-quality pasture over late summer and early autumn was not significantly (P > 0.05) different between the groups. For the control group it was 41 g/day but individual rates of gain ranged from 67 to 0 g/day, depending on the severity of signs of perennial ryegrass toxicosis (r = 0.82, P < 0.001). Liveweight gain was independent of neurotoxic signs in the Mycofix® Plus treated group. Ergovaline concentration in perennial ryegrass varied from 0.43 to a peak in early autumn (March) of 1.05 mg/kg. Mean urine lysergol alkaloid concentration peaked in mid-summer (January) at 109 ng/mg creatinine (control group) and was consistently lower in the Mycofix® Plus group, although the difference approached significance (P = 0.06) only in March. Lolitrem B concentration in perennial ryegrass varied from 0.78 to 1.57 mg/kg. Neurotoxic signs in alpacas were observed throughout the study and peaked in early autumn, coinciding with peak lolitrem B concentration; at this time, 84% of alpacas exhibited neurotoxic signs. Over the 145-day study, the Mycofix® Plus treated group exhibited a lower mean rating of perennial ryegrass toxicosis signs (P < 0.05). Variation in liveweight gain and signs of toxicosis were not associated with significant differences in liver enzyme activity. more »
  • Blood Mineral, Trace-Element and Vitamin Concentrations in Huacaya Alpacas and Merino Sheep Grazing the Same Pasture

    We aimed to determine whether the concentration of minerals and trace constituents in blood of Merino sheep and Huacaya alpacas grazing the same pasture differed with species and time of sampling. Blood samples and pasture samples were collected at frequent intervals over a period of 2 years for mineral and trace-nutrient assay. The concentration of the minerals and trace nutrients in the grazed pasture usually met the dietary needs of sheep at maintenance, apart from potassium, sulfur, cobalt and Vitamin E in occasional samples. Restricted maximum likelihood mixed model analysis indicated a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by year interaction for all blood constituents assayed, a significant (P < 0.05) species by coat shade interaction for plasma Vitamin D, E and B12 and a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by Vitamin D interaction for plasma phosphorus concentrations. In general, plasma calcium concentrations were greater in sheep than in alpacas but plasma magnesium concentrations were greater in alpacas than in sheep. There was no consistent difference between the two species in plasma phosphorus concentrations although low values were recorded in individual sheep and alpacas. Plasma Vitamin D concentrations were more responsive to increasing hours of sunlight in alpacas than they were in sheep. Sheep had consistently higher concentrations of plasma copper, zinc and Vitamin B12 and higher concentrations of blood selenium but lower concentrations of plasma selenium and Vitamin A, than did alpacas. No consistent difference was observed between the two species in plasma Vitamin E concentrations. more »
  • Australian Micro Abattoirs

    Australian Micro Abattoirs builds and installs small scale abattoir solutions to offer farmers a new way to sell their livestock, control their supply chain and increase farmgate profits. more »
  • Alpaca Duvets Keep Friends Cosy

    Hand made duvets are a labour of love for Shannon Moore from Hummingbird Alpacas in Kilkenny, Ireland. more »

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