Home' Clutha Leader : May 2nd 2013 Contents 10
And Now For Something Completely Different: Camelids !!!
The interesting thing about working
for Clutha Vets is that we have the
opportunity to deal with a variety of
animal species. Although I generally treat
cats and dogs, I also have an interest in
camelids (e.g. alpacas and llamas). As well
as my own family of cats, dogs and goats;
I also have a herd of alpacas.
Alpacas are fascinating and totally
different to traditional livestock species.
I eagerly anticipate the time of year
when the alpacas are 'unpacking' (giving
birth). The babies (cria) are very cute.
Alpaca come in a huge variety of colours
and can also be 'multi-coloured'. I have
recently become interested in spotted
'appaloosa' alpaca. Pictured are my spotty
stud male "Chameleon" and his daughter
Their penchant for 'spitting' is usually
what most people think of in relation
to camelids. Although alpaca spit is
extremely unpleasant (especially in your
hair -- yuk!), it is unusual for them to spit
at you. Most spitting occurs when they
are provoked e.g. by injections! Owners
also get adept at avoiding being covered
in spit as you know when it is likely to
happen and by which animal! Pregnant
females will spit at an amorous male to
warn him off -- so carrying out a 'spit-off '
test by exposing a female to an entire male
and observing her behaviour is a method
of pregnancy testing.
Although generally considered to be
'easy care', camelids do have a number of
health issues that the new owner needs to
be aware of. Like other livestock species,
they require vaccination against clostridial
diseases (e.g 5-in-1) as well as drenching
for parasites when needed. Injectable
drenches are preferred as alpacas can spit
out oral drenches.
A number of health issues are related to
vitamin and trace element deficiencies.
In this region of the country, selenium
supplementation may be required.
Alpacas are also prone to the development
of ricketts (especially in wintertime).
This disease can be prevented by
timely injections of vitamin D. This is
particularly important in young growing
stock. I have also found vitamin B1 (or
thiamine) deficiency to be something that
camelids are sensitive to.
Feed wise, they generally do well on
pasture and hay as for sheep. An alpaca
will eat about the same amount as a sheep
too. Their soft feet avoid pugging up the
soil and they tend to go to the toilet in a
communal 'dung pile' reducing the spread
of parasite larvae around the paddock.
Most other problems relate to birth
difficulties or dystocias. However, this is
pretty unusual in alpacas as a rule. The
majority of births (95%) are uneventful.
The gestation period is around 11.5
months and varies widely compared
to other livestock species -- I have had
healthy cria born at 321 days and 374
days gestation (i.e. more than a year
being pregnant!). Most dystocias arise
from malpositioning of the cria e.g.
one front leg folded back or the elbows
stuck ('locked') on the pelvis. Breech or
backwards births are rare -- but there is
a high risk of the cria being suffocated
in the birth canal. Complications also
occasionally occur after giving birth such
as uterine prolapse or retained placenta.
A prolapse is obvious as you can see the
red velvety surface of the inside of the
uterus. It is important to ensure that the
placenta comes out intact. The placenta is
usually expelled within a couple of hours
following birth. The placenta is most
likely retained if it is not expelled within
6 hours. In this situation, you may see
membranes hanging out of the vulva.
Lastly, don't forget that our knowledgeable
vets are available 24-7 for any camelid
emergency. Please also feel free to contact
us if you are thinking of getting into
camelids and want to know more about
taking care of these lovely animals!
Small Animal Veterinarian
Clutha District, your district
Clutha Values, your values
Clutha Vets, your vets
Balclutha (03) 418-1280
Milton (03) 417-8032
On 15th of May for our working
dog clients. Will cover nutrition
and health problems particular
to working dogs. Call the Clinic
for more information.
International Midwives Day - May 5th 2013
0800 762 786
Interested in an exciting
career in Midwifery?
Our renowned Bachelor of Midwifery is now
available to students in Dunedin, North Otago,
South Otago, Central Otago and Southland.
You will work with local midwives and attend tutorials
locally. Many of the learning resources are online and the
programme is supported by block courses in Dunedin.
Information sessions about applying for 2014:
Gore: Friday 10 May, 5.30pm, Seminar Room,
Balclutha: Monday 13 May, 6.30pm, Brian Dodds Room,
Clutha First Health
Oamaru: Tuesday 14 May, 5.30pm, Seminar Room,
Cromwell: Wednesday 15 May, 5.30pm, Room 2,
Otago Polytechnic Cromwell Campus
Invercargill: Friday 17 May, 5.30pm, Maternity Meeting
Room, Southland Hospital
For more information contact the School of Midwifery.
New Zealand, world-renowned in midwifery
Morgan Weathington travelled halfway across the world to become a midwife; a profession that allows
her to form extraordinary connections with women and families of all demographics and cultures.
The 37-year-old mother of two
moved from Canada's Vancouver
Island to Wanaka with her family,
and embarked on her Bachelor of
Midwifery with Otago Polytechnic in
''I chose to come here because New
Zealand midwifery is world-renowned,
and Otago Polytechnic's Central Otago
satellite site enabled us to live in a
peaceful, rural location and for me to
work to a schedule that suits my family,''
Far from being disadvantaged due to
studying away from the Polytechnic's
main Dunedin campus, Morgan has
found her learning is thoroughly
supported with fantastic library
resources, easy access to equipment and
her student practice facilitator, online
theory tutorials and practical group
''Working alongside rural midwives has
given me tremendous insight into an
aspect of midwifery that I want to
incorporate into my own practice,'' she
says. ''Every day is different and I get to
use my head, heart and hands.''
Morgan is looking forward to progress-
ing her learning further as she continues
through the degree.
''So far I have gained an appreciation of
what a pregnant, labouring and postpartum
woman and her family experiences in New
Zealand. I am keen to use this to
empathetically and effectively work along-
side midwives next year as part of my
She feels the dynamic profession offers her
plenty of scope for the future.
''As midwives are in demand all around the
world, this career provides an incredible
opportunity for our family to travel and
continue our adventure''.
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