Saturday, 3 May 2008

Vitamin Injections

This was supposed to go on the blog yesterday but there was something stopping my emails and web access. In time honoured fashion, I rebooted and tried again today. Everything seems to be back to normal.

Our son, David, paid his Friday visit to the farm to help.

The UK is at a fairly high latitude so in the winter the days become very short. Llamas and alpacas have evolved at low latitutes (mainly on the Altiplano in South America) where at all times of the year there are long hours of daylight and bright dry skies too. The UK's dark dismal winters do not provide sufficient sunlight for the production of Vitamin D in the skin, especially in young animals who are still growing. It is therefore good practice to inject them with Vitamin D at least three or four times during each winter.

We imported quite a few of our alpacas, and as they have not been bred in the UK we tend to give them vitamin D all the year round - about every sixe weeks in the winter and every three months in the summer.

Unfortunately it is no longer possible to obtain injectable Vitamin D in the Uk and so we have to import it from the States. We ordered it early in April and due to a mix up with the address it still had not arrived by Thursday.

After his welcome cup of coffee we had decided that there was very little actual husbandry needed so David was all set to start moving the wood left over from the intensive hedge laying that took place last winter. He was just about to hitch up the trailer when a delivery arrived - guess what? The vitamins. The change of plan did not take long to initiate.

We put up the injections and brought the alpacas in paddock by paddock for their dose of liquid sunshine.

The pictures show David bringing in the alpacas with his sheep dog, Jax. Jax is used to herding their flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep and find alpacas a bit confusing. They do not always run ahead of her. Sometimes they won't move at all and sometimes they will turn round and appear to be thinking "what on earth is that dog doing?"

Although we have six dogs, we do not routinely use them to move the alpacas because they are so easy going that it is just as easy to call them and just walk slowly behind them. They are quite happy to mooch along that way. We just put an arm out here or there and they seem to know where to go.

If we need them to go in to the barn we sometimes get Millie our smoke working sheepdog. She can bring them all the way from the furthest paddock and feed them in to the barn with only minimum help from us.

Anyway we did not start until about 11.00 a.m. and they were all done and out in their paddocks again by lunchtime. Not bad for 40 alpacas and two people.

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