It is that time of year; how can we seek protection from Triple E?
Author: Dean and Barbie Tilton
According to some studies around Triple E and misquotes, we are hearing that mostly it is the fall bugs that are carriers and transmitters. Certainly for us New England farmers this has proven true with some losses in the alpaca community occurring in the months of August October in 2005.
Because we all thought that camelids did not get this virus, it was a big shocker and is a scare for some. A great study was done, and some herd testing was done, and the outcome proved so far to be great
although, the whole issue led to lots of questions. Farmers wondering if they should inoculate, will it really work, will there be long term effects down the road
There is a good mix of folks that are not sure which way to go, us included. Some vets are not sure as well, as there just isnt enough research yet, as with many other camelid issues we face.
So, some interested alpaca enthusiasts have been asking me what I am doing about it.
I would like to say, Im ignoring it and hope it goes away? But, it wont, it will be a greater problem unless measures are in place to protect us and our animals.
What we are doing, because we did not inoculate this summer, is obviously hoping for a safe fall here. But, also have been looking into some practical herd management other than the shots for now and future years.
So, here are some things we are doing:
Use pyrethrum spray each a.m. and p.m. on all animals, and especially crias, legs, bellies, chest, and ears. See more on use of these pyrethrine/pyrethrum sprays by going to www.neaoba.org alpaca library article "How To Get Big Help From A Little Daisy."
An obvious thing is keeping the grounds the animals are on as dry as possible, rid puddle spots and any junk or things around that collect water.
Put larvae killer in standing water such as stagnant wet areas, ponds etc. (these dont effect anything except the mosquito eggs according to the labeling).
Put up some bat houses, bats eat huge numbers of insects a night, along with guinea hens, and encourage dragon flies.
Get a mosquito magnet, we do not have these yet, but hear good things mostly.
Have automatic bug misters in the barn spraying pyrethrum every 15 minutes over the animals.
Fans in the barn to hopefully hide the vapors that attracts the bugs...
Make sure there is yummy hay and fresh water in the barn so they want to stay in, rather than go out where we cant control the bugs so much, especially at dawn and dusk when Mosquitoes are more prevalent.
Along with the above, all this talk about the reason crias and older animals are effected is because they have lower immunity levels. So, I have been wondering ways to try to boost their immune systems, this is not as easy as it seems when I have been trying to gain some knowledge here. Because cria nurse on mom for so long, they arent taking in anything extra unless nibbles of hay for the first month or two then start nibbling pieces of grain and such.
One study done by a swine nutritionist investigated the benefit of adding various natural supplements to pig diets. They found that fish oil in young weaned pigs' diets can help build up their immune systems. It's been known that fish oils containing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can be nutritious additions to a person's diet because they appear to lower the risk of cholesterol and heart disease. However, studies showed that compared to corn oil and other supplements, different levels of fish oil helped 18 day old piglets better prepare to fight off endotoxin challenges. The omega-3 fatty acids are absorbed through the intestine and help the immune cells cope with disease. U.S. producers could benefit from this finding because fish oil is less expensive than antibiotics.
So, if fish oil offers protection at the cellular level of the immune system, what can I feed my mom alpacas to give them extra nutrients that contain omega 3-fatty acids? FLAXSEED! Dr. Evans supplements have Flax meal, which is basically ground seed. We grind whole seeds weekly and add as a top dress daily.
It may be tiny, but its mighty: The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while its not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust. Flax seed is also good for hair, skin and many other things in people and animals.
There is an interesting piece (see below link) written by Jack Carter, Professor Emeritus Department of Plant Sciences North Dakota State University Fargo, North Dakota 58105
FLAXSEED as Functional Food for People... and as Feed for Other Animals
Another thing that will help keep immune systems at their peak, is to be sure your herd is healthy, so looking into what factors contribute to the organisms overcoming the immune system?
The two most important factors are the presence of a very large number of pathogens, and suppression of an animal's immune system. When animals are sick, they shed large numbers of pathogens. If the buildings ventilation system does not adequately exhaust these pathogens and bring in fresh air, these pathogens will persist and more animals will be infected. High humidity in the barn also contributes to high levels of air-borne pathogens.
Animals immune systems can be suppressed by high levels of ammonia in the air, spoiled feed that might contain mycotoxins and stresses such as:
Moving or transporting including loud noises
Moving animals amongst groups
Sickness (mastitis, digestive upset or other illnesses)
Excessive animal competition (overstocking)
Heat, cold and draft
Uncomfortable resting area
Large temperature fluctuations
Dust that irritates the respiratory tract
Very young animals have lower immunity than older animals and are more susceptible to stress. So, look at your herd and determine ways to keep stress at a minimum.
We have no guarantees that these things we do will keep our animals or any others from getting triple E or any other sickness for that matter. But feel, that by doing these things we have done due diligence in keeping our herd healthy.
Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians, just trying to investigate some options, and do recommend you investigate these items and discuss with your vet.
Dean & Barbie Tilton
Someday Farm Alpacas
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