Welcome back to our Animal Care (Husbandry) Blog! As we are in the middle of our winter months, we thought we would give you bit of an insight to our routine on the farm. In the winter, alpacas need a little bit of an extra dose of vitamins!
Why in the winter?
Over winter, alpacas in the UK don’t get as many vitamins from sunlight that they should get. This is because our winter is very different to winter over in the Andes Mountains. As the alpacas are in the mountains, they are still exposed to a lot of sunlight, while over here in the UK, as you are sure to know, we have shorter days, and plenty of cloud coverage. So our Peruvian friends don’t get as much sunlight as they are used to. As a result of this, alpacas can be at risk of vitamin D deficiency which can lead to other problems...
Rickets - primarily in young alpacas.
Rickets is very common in the UK and can affect young alpacas mostly in their first year of life, however it has been known to affect adult alpacas too. One of the first signs of rickets in alpacas is lameness which leads on to significant weight loss. Rickets leads to bowed legs and swelling or bending of the joints - which can be very painful to live with. While alpacas are young, their bones are still growing… With a Vitamin D deficiency, young alpacas or cria can easily develop rickets while they grow. They have plenty of plants and grass around to eat, however they are still not getting the sufficient amount of Vitamin D.
Fleece loss - in darker coloured alpacas.
Fleece loss can also occur in alpacas due to vitamin deficiency. However this occurs in the darker coloured alpacas because their darker skin pigmentation doesn’t allow as much sunlight in as the lighter coloured alpacas do. This will cause a reduction in the amount of Vitamins they can get and as a result, they will lose fleece in various areas.
Preventatives for vitamin deficiencies.
On our farm, from October to February, the whole herd gets a dosage of Vitamin AD&E which gives them a boost of vitamins while they don’t get enough from the sun. Our herd gets their AD&E through an injection, but it can also be given as an oral paste. Also, in November and March, our herd gets a dosage of Camelid Drench, which is taken orally which is full of a number of different vitamins, which again boosts them over the colder months.